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The Redemption, Book 2

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 18

*-* Meanwhile, back in Kansas, Skeeter's POV *-*

"Hey, lover boy give me a call. I wanna have some really hot and steamy phone sex with none other than YOU. Right now I'm recalling you sticking your steaming hot dick into my asshole and fucking me for all it was worth, which was a million gazillion trillion bucks! Heh heh heh. Give me a call. Love you." I breathed huskily into the phone with my best impersonation of a hot and hungry and horny lover.

I had to laugh. One of the times we'd gone up into the loft we'd made our own ring-tones... just as I came he put his phone to my mouth and recorded the whine I make ejaculating, and then I recorded his muffled scream as he reached his moment. Oh yeah, we also took still pictures as the first spurt exited that pleasure pole.

I tried to reach him twice more still with no answer or acknowledgment. After about 30 minutes I began calling him every two minutes thinking that something was happening to keep him from answering. I no longer left voice messages because his voice on the call back made me need to hear his actual voice more and more.

James entered my bedroom. He saw that I was distraught, that I was worried, that I was pacing the floor, that tears were leaking from my eyes, that I was stifling back great gulps of air, and that I would not, could not stop.

Very gently, he put his arm around my waist and led me to the computer chair where he sat down and pulled me into his arms then said, "What's wrong bro?"

It all came out in a jumble of words, short sentences, a single word, a litany of curse words, and a passion that came from the depths of my being, "Something's wrong, I just know there is. Joey's not answering my calls."

James, in his infinite wisdom said very softly as he kissed my neck just below my hairline, "Joey's okay, just you wait and see. Maybe he's working on the project his dad had planned for him and his brother. Maybe he's in the shower. Maybe he forgot his phone and went somewhere without it. There are all kinds of explanations." James then pulled me into him and began rubbing my shoulders with his strong hands. As he did so, I felt my muscles loosening up, and my tension abating. I fully released and allowed him to pull me into his arms fully and completely. The only sounds in the room were from our breathing, and our tummies too because we were both hungry – and mom wasn't making it any easier because she was frying up pans of chicken for dinner, the smells of which wafted into the room.

Just then Mark entered. He walked directly to me then leaned down and kissed my forehead, "What's up Skeeter? You're upset."

"He hasn't heard from Joey, and Joey's not answering his calls." James explained.

"He always answers his calls, even when he's taking a shower or dumping the sewer system. I'm worried. Something's wrong." I said softly looking deep into Mark's eyes and then on into his soul. Mark squatted down then laid his face in my lap and put his arms around me protectively, softly, yet firmly. He then began rubbing my lower back firmly yet not too firmly – just right.

Mark then whispered, "Did you try calling his house? Maybe he lost his phone or something…"

"Maybe he did. I hadn't thought of that." I said then pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and tried his personal phone one more time. No answer. Then I called again; once again there was no answer. I felt myself tightening up but James and Mark both stepped up their massaging my body until once again I began relaxing.

"I don't have his home phone number. Maybe mom has it." I said with assurance. I pulled their hands off me then headed to the kitchen where mom and Stacy were busily fixing dinner. Mom took one look at me then said to her daughter, "Finish up here, I'll be right back."

Mom took me into the dining room away from the noise and chatter of the younger ones. She said, "What's wrong with you Stephen? You look like you've lost your last friend."

Tears welled up in my eyes, once again, I told her of the situation and how I felt that something was terribly wrong for Joey to not pick up his phone for over an hour.

She pulled me into her arms, hugged tightly then released so that she could dig through the phone book looking for Joey's parents' phone number. "Here it is."

Immediately, I pulled my cell phone from my pocket, punched in the numbers. It was immediately answered, "Hello."

It was Derrick's voice.

"Where's Joey? I've been trying to call and call and call him."

*-* Mom's POV

"Officers, so help me God if my son is hurt…" I said with enough venom to disable an elephant.

The first officer led the way outside. We saw Joey lying still on the ground at the edge of our property. Dave and I ran to our boy, pushed two officers out of the way then got down on our hands and knees, looked into Joey's eyes, felt for a pulse... it was present though it was thready. Just then, one very naked Nathan crouched down on his haunches, started calling Joey's name over and over again... finally his voice got through to his brother... "Joey, God, don't die on me. Wake up. Walk up. Wake the hell up. Mom!"

"Nathan, you are naked. We're here with Joey. Go son."

In a flash Dave went and retrieved my doctor's bag. I unlocked the combination lock, reached in and pulled out my stethoscope and placed it on Joey's chest. I was alarmed, to say the least. His heartbeat was racing and his lungs were crackling and somewhat gurgling. I whispered into my sons' ear, "You're going to be okay. Just hang in there for a few more minutes. The paramedics are here. We're going to take you to the hospital. Honey, who did this to you?"

Just then he started making heaving motions... I rolled my boy over onto his side just as he projectile vomited onto the ground. That sent my boy into darkness. While he was, at least temporarily, passed out I ran my hands over his neck, back, and chest. There I found multiple raised places along his ribcage... which were hallmark symptoms of fractured ribs. Quickly, I ran my hand down his belly, pushed on it in a controlled way looking for gross internal injuries... his belly was soft, a good sign.

Joey began moaning and groaning and trying to move yet the pain was tremendous though he fought it valiantly to maintain.

"Who did this to you? How did this happen? Did your friends do this to you?"

My son gripped my hand. He was barely hanging on to consciousness. I repeated, "Honey, we need to know who did this to you..."

Nathan returned and sat down atop Joey's head, put his hands on his brother's face, reached down and tenderly kissed his brother's forehead. He was cooing at Joey to try to keep him awake. Tears were running from his eyes. With the saddest face I'd ever seen on another human being, and I'd seen plenty of them during my years as a doctor, he looked into my eyes and pleaded, "Don't let him die."

"Mom, I don't know who did it... dark... jumped from behind..." Joey said with effort.

Nathan angrily said, "It was that cop in the house... the pervert... did you see his hands?!!!!"

Dave got up... I heard him walking away... he has a distinct footstep.

I went fully and completely into doctor mode. The paramedics arrived. I started barking orders, being impatient because they were 'too slow' to respond to my commands in the time frame I thought they should have responded. I was pretty hard on them yet the boy lying on his back, writhing in pain, gripping my hand in his, permitting another boy to kiss him, was none other than MY son. The son of a bitch who did this to MY son would pay, and he would pay dearly.

After I started an IV on my boy, gave him some Morphine and an anti-nausea medication I looked to Nathan, "Who did this? Did you see his name tag?"

Just then Timmy arrived. He too got down onto the ground, put his hands on Joey's neck, reached down and kissed his brother's lips. He said through giggles, "You should have seen that cop... he was drooling dude. He wanted a piece of my ass I tell ya." To me he said, "He was a paying customer of mine too... his name is Williams... Charles Williams, Sergeant... woo hoo."

Joey violently shuddered then he was quiet, very quiet, too quiet. I checked his pulse and respirations... there were no appreciable changes in either. His IV was flowing as it should have been. The paramedics were walking up the yard with a stretcher towing behind.

Nathan was being Mr. Strongman... but I saw tears just beneath the surface, and they were threatening to spill at any moment. I reached my hand up and stroked his face tenderly. He bit his lip, lowered his head, grasped my wrist with his hand and then stroked his chest... he needed the reassurance... but even though I didn't think Joey was critically injured I knew he was hurt, and he was hurt badly.

Dave kissed Joey's cheek.

Nathan looked over my shoulder then his eyes grew daggers, his body tensed up like I'd never before seen him tense up, except maybe when Timmy was out of control... but even then I didn't see the hatred that I was seeing right then and there. I said, "Nathan what's wrong?" To Dave I said when Nathan didn't reply 'soon enough', "Charles Williams... the cop that was in our bathroom when our boys were showering... he did this to Joey, our son."

Before his dad or I could react Nathan got up and tore out. Dave was able to reach out an arm that tripped up Nathan and sent him to the ground face first. Dave then was able to subdue our middle son... I turned around and saw the swarthy, sweaty cop standing on the porch smoking a cigarette and talking with his fellow officers like nothing had ever happened.

I looked into Joey's eyes... he was with us... I asked, "Is there anything you can use to identify your attacker... such as his face, his smell, his hands, anything?"

Joey shook his head slightly then looked into my eyes as a recognition passed through him, "Pock marks. My customer. Get away, he'll hurt you." My son then made every effort to sit up… even though he was heavily medicated with Morphine. We sat him up then he looked all around using slow, jerky movements until he looked to our porch. I turned around... Dave was talking to the man. Several other officers were in a circle... Joey gripped my hand, coughed, laid back onto the ground and said, "Asshole."

Nathan returned to us, leaned down and kissed his brother's lip, then tore out at a gallop toward the group of officers and Dave. I saw it all happen in slow-motion. Nathan, my middle son, was running in a beeline toward Williams who was standing on the periphery of that circle. Nathan, bless his heart, ran headlong into the officer causing him to lose his balance and fall to the ground. Dave began shouting some things to some people, perhaps Nathan, I couldn't hear very clearly but the next thing I saw was that Williams was being wrestled to the pavement by his 'fellow' officers.

And then it happened... Nathan jumped up from the dog pile... he had something shiny in his hands... it was big... it looked mean and menacing. The boy lifted the shiny piece... it was at about a 45 degree angle to the ground. Dave saw him and then tackled Nathan to the ground all the while lifting the shiny thing into the air then he wrestled Nathan some more. Nathan was screaming...

I turned back to Joey. I broke doctor mode just long enough to lean in and kiss his cheek. I said, "Joey, it looks like the police officer won't be bothering anybody again for a very long time. Okay, we're going to take you to the hospital to get you all fixed up. I'm going to give you more Morphine so that you don't hurt so badly. It's going to hurt when we move you but I'll be right here... I'm not going to leave you."

I nodded to the lead paramedic. I helped them load Joey onto the stretcher. Our yard is so bumpy... we stopped about midway... Joey was screaming in pain... I gave him 6 milligrams of Morphine directly into his IV. That helped a bunch but still, each bump, each stop, and each start elicited moans of pain from deep within his chest, from deep within his being.

At first the paramedics weren't going to let me ride along but when I told them that not only was I a doctor, but I was also his mother and that as a physician I was pulling rank. Point taken. We went Code 3 (lights & siren) to Northwestern.

Every bump and even a curb that the driver scraped the tires on brought about excruciating pain to my son. Against my better thoughts, I gave yet another 3 milligrams of Morphine in his IV line. His blood pressure was okay. He was more peaceful. Sometimes ya just have to go outside the envelope to help alleviate a patient's pain, even when, especially when that patient is your son.

A full trauma team was awaiting and it went into action when we arrived. Dr. Silverstein, a respected trauma surgeon, not within the group of physicians in my practice, was in attendance. I gave him report including the amount of Morphine my son had received since his Golden Hour had begun about one hour arriving at the trauma center.

Not being one that can sit idly very well, as soon as Dave and the boys arrived I took off for the trauma room where Joey was being treated. He opened his eyes then smiled wanly then closed them as a nurse gave him an injection in his IV. He was grinning widely; stupefied by the drugs he was being given. I said, "Show off."

"You like my new attire, dear mommy?" Joey slurred.

"Yeah, your state of dress is striking. Great for a naturist resort. You'd fit in just fine." I bantered back.

Joey, just a little bit no more, raised his head up and off the pillow. He grinned mischievously at seeing his naked body. He had absolutely no shame, not that he should be ashamed, not at all. Like a light switch had turned off, he fell into a deep slumber, snoring lightly, typical of a drug induced pain management scheme.

The radiology technicians arrived with a portable x-ray machine. They took numerous x-rays of his neck, chest, belly and pelvis then scooted off to upload the images to a computer for visualization.

About 20 minutes later, Dr. Silverstein returned to the trauma room where Joey was sleeping comfortably, and I was sitting on pins and needles waiting the endless minutes, or hours as time seemed to just crawl by.

Immediately, I entered my doctor's authorization code into the computer. On large overhanging screens I pulled up his x-rays. He had 7 cracked ribs on one side and 4 on the other. None were complete fractures, thankfully, because if they had been then we would have had to put him on the respirator. The most striking feature was how large Joey's aorta was. Dr. Silverstein agreed that it was very large for a child his age, size and body build. Alarms began ringing in my head. Just the previous week a patient had been brought to the trauma bay for injuries sustained in a sudden stop car accident. The patient had similar rib fractures just like Joey, and we saw a large aorta just like Joey... as it was with that patient we took him to the catherization lab, and found a small aortic tear, a time bomb waiting to happen.

There was no time to waste as treatment for those injuries trump all other care. Easily and quickly, we rolled Joey to the catherization suite. The interventional radiologist was still in the house so I turned him over to them, knowing that he was in good hands. If my boy did need surgery then I would not do it, nor would I be permitted in the OR, nor was I permitted in the catherization lab. There is a reason why a physician does not treat his family with serious injuries: objectivity, pure and simple.

Those things usually take a couple of hours to perform so I headed out to the waiting room, hoping that Dave and the kids would be there.

They were. I brought them up to speed. We then headed to the cafeteria for a Coke. It was late and the boys looked tired. Nathan's eyes were haunted. He was distant and aloof.

I motioned for him to sit on my lap. Ordinarily, he doesn't volunteer something like that... sometimes he resisted my mothering him, but not too often, but he walked over to me, plopped himself on my lap and permitted me to pull him in, kiss his cheek, and run my hand through his hair. I said, "Honey, Joey's going to be okay. He's got some broken ribs. They'll be painful just because our ribs move with each and every breath we take. Special x-rays are being performed but only as a precaution... we have to make absolutely sure that nothing serious is wrong... we're just double checking... oh child, you've had so much hurt in your life. Trust me here, okay? I know what I'm doing... I promise you that if I thought Joey was in imminent danger then I'd be with him." He then permitted, even invited, me to kiss his lips. That was something he'd not done too often.

He then stood and then with his eyes piercing into my soul said, "When can I see him?"

I knew that he needed to see his brother. Adults had let him down in his past. He trusted few, and let even fewer into his inner being... you know – where the core of our being lives.

My office was located on the same floor as the cafeteria, about a 15-20 minute walk to be exact. I looked at Nathan very carefully. He wanted to trust but he was holding back just enough to still be alone in his thoughts.

I told Dave and the others that we'd be back in a little while. I took Nathan's hand in mine then we set out for my office. I sat Nathan down in my chair in front of the computer screen. I then logged in, went through several screens to get to the one I wanted. I punched in Joey's name, and then was able to get to the catherization lab. I enabled two-way audio. I picked up the headset, put it on Nathan's head and told him to speak to Joey and to the radiologist who was performing the tests. Dr. Silverstein was in attendance also.

When our connection was first made all you could see were Joey's major blood circulation vessels. I took the opportunity to show Nathan the vessels and told him that none appeared to be interrupted or anything bad. Objectively, I saw nothing wrong with them but told Nathan that the doctors would soon be injecting radioisotope dyes to trace them from the inside out. That would be the key critical point at which time we would determine if anything bad was going on. I left nothing out... I was totally honest in every way with him. I said, "Go ahead and said hi to your brother. If he's not asleep then he'll hear you. He can respond too."

"Hi Joey... are you there?"

One of the nurses looked into the camera. I took the headset and said, "Mary, this is Dr. Mauer. I have the patients' brother in my office... we're watching what's going on."

Dr. Andrews, the radiologist spoke up, "So far everything is looking just fine. We'll be injecting him in a minute or two. Joey, are you awake... you brother's voice can be heard in this room and you can be heard. Say something to your brother so that he knows that you're okay."

I heard Joey's voice say, "Hey."

I replied, "Hey back to you, honey. Here's Nathan, give him a second to put the headphones on." With that I placed the headphones on his head, adjusted the mic to fit his face, and then nodded.

"Hey Joey... are you there? Are you okay?" Nathan asked somberly. Tears were freely flowing from his eyes and onto my desktop. I grabbed a Kleenex to wipe his eyes. I left the water on my desk because I didn't want him to think that his tears were anything shameful. He was under a tremendous amount of stress.

*-* Nathan's POV *-*

"Hey squirt." I heard through the earphones. That was my brothers' voice. I'd know it anywhere, at any time, and under any situation or circumstance, no matter what.

Mom wiped my eyes because those tears were blinding my vision.

Brokenly, I said, "I love you. Don't die on me."

"Love you too bro. I'm not dead dude... don't even think like that or I'll get up from here and kick your ass."

"Just try it. Come on, kick my ass... that'll be a trip... you look pretty wimpy from here."

"Is mom looking?"

I turned to mom... she was watching and waiting... "Yeah, she is."

"Tell her to turn her head for a minute."

"Mom, Joey wants you to turn your head for a second. Don't turn around until I tell you that you can, okay?"

Mom regarded me carefully, turned her head away from the monitor.

With baited breath I quietly said into the mic, "Okay, she's looking away."

Although I couldn't see his face... his left hand came up. He was waiving proudly. Yeah, you're right... he was waving the one finger salute. My heart slowed... I felt better.

A nurse giggled in the background. She said, "Nathan, I think your brother loves you."

"Yeah." I said giggling. To Joey I said, "Get well soon bro. I love you."

*-* Mom's POV *-*

I wondered, but only for a second, why I should have to look away... but I didn't question the boy's integrity or attempts thereto.

He tossed down the headset, and then reached for me, and then wrapped his arms around me very, very tightly. The boy was shaking. He was trying oh so hard to be brave, and he was holding so much inside of him.

"June, we're going to inject now. Nathan, pay attention, follow the pointer, do you see it? Okay, here we go."

I pulled Nathan into my side. He wrapped his arm around my waist and held on tight. He looked into my eyes then riveted his eyes back to the monitor... just in time to see the dye injection.

With a trained eye I panned into the injection sequence and carefully observed the dye flow. It only lasted about 5 seconds. Nathan tensed up, his breathing stopped; he was staring at the monitor intently then broke his eyes away when the dye stopped flowing. He looked into my eyes, they penetrated my being. I said, "From all indications, he doesn't have anything bad going on with any of the blood vessels in his chest... it looks totally normal." I smiled, "You can breathe now. Shall we go tell dad, Derrick and Timmy that Joey's okay?"

"Can I do it?" Nathan whispered questioningly.

I nodded then leaned in and kissed his cheek. As we walked toward the cafeteria Nathan gently put his hand in mine, squeezed firmly, and then picked up the pace. Every once in a while he'd look up just so that we'd see if the other was paying attention. He had a cautious smile... I was to learn that look in his eyes and on his face was his vulnerable 'side'. I was to start seeing a lot more of that side.

The cafeteria was virtually empty save for Dave, Derrick and Timmy who were talking quietly amongst themselves. Timmy saw us first. Cautiously, curiously, slowly he got up from his seat. Dave and Derrick turned to see what Timmy was looking at. All three walked to us. Nathan looked into my eyes. I nodded. He said, "Joey's test is normal, right mom?"

"Yup. It's perfectly normal. His heart and blood vessels are great. He has some fluid in his lungs but that's quite normal. His lungs were bruised... his body is reacting to that injury just as it should be."

Nathan offered, "I got to talk to Joey..."

Timmy perked up then his eyes went downtrodden. He walked to Nathan and said, "I'm sorry. This is all my fault. If... if... if..."

Nathan lifted Timmy's chin so they were eye to eye. Cold and calculated, yet without malice, Nathan was dead serious, he said, "Yes it is. You get one free pass, and you used it tonight. Do not f... screw it up."

Simple. Succinct. Direct. To the point.

Timmy looked to Dave. Dave said, "Joey used his free pass too. Nathan hasn't used his. Nathan and Joey are together in this lifetime... so if Joey goes then I'm positive that Nathan will go also.

Nathan nodded, "That's right. You're on your own if you screw up again. That's just the way it is." Without another word Nathan turned and walked to the Coke dispenser.

Timmy looked to me. He appeared to have those sad puppy dog eyes that I hadn't seen before. I was pretty sure that it was a manipulation tactic, but wasn't sure. I said, "Timmy, we will not have violence in our home, period. There are no more chances if it comes to physical means of dealing with something. If you have a bitch or complaint, then just say so, don't take it upon yourself to get physical with us... you'll lose... so will we. We're not looking for reasons to send you away... we're looking for reasons to keep you with us so that you are a part of our family. It's as simple as that. Do you want a Coke?"

The discussion was over.

"DR. MAUER SICU STAT. DR. JUNE MAUER SICU STAT!" The overhead speakers announced.

I looked to Dave. Nathan looked at me from the Coke machine. He nodded. I said to Dave, "Why don't you guys go to the ER and wait for Nathan... sorry."

He nodded, hugged me and then kissed my lips. I took off for the SICU.

As I was walking to the SICU I wondered who would be paging me since I had no patients there. Wayne was the only patient I knew... but he'd been transferred to the Cardiac Surgery department for following of his heart wound.

With that thought in mind I headed right to Wayne's room expecting something very seriously wrong, life threatening even. The nurse intercepted me and said that Wayne's heart rate had spiked dangerously high for no apparent reason. Just that morning he had been switched from one-on-one care to two-on-one care... which simply means a nurse was assigned to two patients instead of one... because the patient's condition had improved enough to not require total and complete care for each and everything, they were no longer life-in-danger critical.

I entered Wayne's cubicle. The first thing I noticed was that Clare was present. She was standing over her son. Startled, she looked up. Immediately, she reached down into her purse... I thought I saw the cap of a hypodermic needle... but wasn't sure, I wasn't positive, yet I was concerned nevertheless. Quickly, I walked to her, "What are you doing, Clare?" Quick. Blunt. To the point. No mincing of words.

I saw movement to my side. I looked at Wayne. His eyes were open. His pupils were narrow like pin drops... to my knowledge, and something that is in no protocol for his injuries, he was not on any stimulant medication. This perked my attention.

Clare's pupils were also pin point. Her eyes looked somewhat wild... something that I'd not before seen in her. She was also jumpy, nervous like. I felt uncomfortable... not from a physical standpoint but from a 'feeling' that what met the eye was not exactly how things really were.

Then all of a sudden, excitedly she began relaying all of Wayne's medical advances, a total hope for his total and complete recovery, and that he'd be back to normal within a couple of weeks, bar none, and she offered me a large wager to prove her point. When I passively declined her offer she waddled (Clare is a very, very large woman) to Wayne and began talking to him like he was all there with her… true to an extent – hearing is a very sensitive organ, and is believed to be the last thing to go with a brain injured/brain dead patient. The sense of hearing is also the very first thing that a newborn is tuned into, and reacts to.

We were nearly shoulder to shoulder... as she talked faster and faster she came closer and closer... I smelled alcohol, booze to be exact, probably Vodka. Beyond any shadow of a doubt I knew that because her personality seemed so much 'different' than when we'd talked before that she was likely very inebriated... but she wasn't being obnoxious or anything … but still … there were machines, very expensive machines all about Wayne... one small misstep could prove disastrous to not only Wayne, our first and foremost concern, but also to that same medical equipment.

I sensed, however, that Clare was more than just drunk. Her behavior reminded me very vividly of a person tweaking... you know... giddy excited, talkative, unable to listen, eyes dancing all over the place, hyper-gregarious … very not at all congruent for a mother whose son was lying in very critical condition.

She then, uninvited, pulled me into a hug and squeezed firmly. I was able to remove my neck from her clutches. It was then that I saw a vial of crystalline substance on top of the junk in her purse... alongside it was a hypodermic with a needle attached to it... immediately I disengaged from her hug, stepped back, and then she got into my face and said, "Wayne needs his medicine!"

Boldly, brazenly, without any thought of who was present she pulled from her purse a hypodermic syringe and needle and poised the apparatus to the bottle. At that point, knowing all patients are closely monitored visually, I grabbed the vial from her hand then hit the Code Blue button located on a panel about each patient bed so that life saving procedures can be immediately initiated and performed. True to cause Wayne's room quickly filled with hospital staff from many different disciplines, including the Chief of Cardiac and Thoracic surgery that happened to be on the floor doing hospital rounds along with his residents in tow.

Coldly, I said, "This patient was about to receive an injection from this bottle from his mother. Please take it and have it analyzed STAT. Also, please freeze all video from this ICU bed for the past 15 minutes. Have security review it. Have a restraining order drawn up that forbids this woman from being anywhere near this hospital and this patient. Should this vial contain cocaine then the police should be notified immediately. Clare you are impaired and must leave this ICU room at once."

"You'll pay for this. You motherfuckers can't keep me from my fuckin child. The fuckin judge will be on my side; he'll get you just you fuckin wait and see!" Clare screamed from the top of her lungs. She then started freaking out and being totally unreasonable, screaming and ranting and raving.

I noticed that Wayne's eyes were fully and completely open. He was not focused in on anything or anybody… but he had reacted. He was moving his arms and legs ever so slightly. His mouth was moving around the endotracheal tube in his mouth and throat. He was definitely reacting to the commotion all around him.

Just then security arrived. With fierce resistance, Clare was finally taken down and was then taken away. I handed the vial to the laboratory technician instructing her to rush its analysis. She said the results would be available in approximately 30 minutes.

A female security supervisor arrived and said she'd reviewed the footage. She was impressed with its detailed clarity. One of the other supervisors said that the system had been invented by a company located in Hawaii and that it was being implemented hospital wide.

I then ordered a toxicology screen to be performed on Wayne – STAT, specifically cocaine.

While waiting for the lab test results, I pulled up his medical records and read through them. The heart team was pleased with his progress. The one test I was specifically interested in was his brain wave studies. The latest test, while not what I'd hoped for was not as bad as I had feared for him. Provided he survived, he'd have a long period of rehabilitation ahead of him, perhaps even years, and even then there was no guarantee that he'd ever be who he had been prior to his injuries. Sometimes miracles do happen.

I was impressed that he was not losing all that much weight. The nutrition team had been feeding him parentally through his veins and he also had a feeding tube inserted into his upper intestines so that he could be fed super highly concentrated fluids to help heal his body. The sites of his incisions were healing nicely and rapidly. He had a good skin tone. He'd react to touch by twitching the muscle stimulated by my fingers. When I ran my fingertips up the side of his belly he reacted purposefully as one may have expected. His eyelids fluttered when I ran a finger across his eyelashes. I'd not before noticed how long his eyelashes were. The boy had a beautiful face. It was striking. It was so angelic appearing. I noted the respirator was on 'stand by' meaning that he was largely breathing on his own power. That's a very good sign and signifies that the patient does not have catastrophic damage to their brain stem. His pulse was also strong and regular, and it was slowing down, another good sign that the vital centers of his basic brain functioning were intact. I then checked his Foley catheter. It had recently been changed. I saw no indication of infection or trauma to his penis or his testicles.

I then performed a rectal examination. His eyes opened wide. His sphincter flinched when my finger entered. Good signs.

Assured that he was in no immediate danger I sat down and began charting my notes.

Two nurses, a lab technician, a security guard, and the director of nursing entered Wayne's cubicle. The lab technician had in her hands two sheets of paper.

I said, "The patient is waking up. Let's go out into the hallway." I then instructed the floor nurse, Wayne's primary nurse to please stay with the patient.

In the hallway, the nursing director turned to me and said, "Dr. Mauer. We have the drug results for you."

She then turned to the lab technician, "The tests to the vial extracted from the patients' mother are positive for high grade cocaine. It is in liquid form. The liquid, from preliminary results, show it is tap water."

"Also, Dr. Mauer, the patient has a moderate amount of cocaine in his system."

She showed me the lab test reports that confirmed her oral report. I thanked her. Although I didn't even need to say so - I instructed her to make sure the results were on Wayne's medical chart. She then walked away after being released back to work.

The nursing director then looked to the security guard, "The police were notified. Mrs. McDonald has been taken into custody. Preliminarily the charges are: possession, intent to distribute to a critically ill hospital patient, child endangerment, and some other lesser charges. The police have been dispatched to her home for further investigation. Oh, she had a 45 in her purse. She'll be charged as a felon in possession of a loaded firearm. I'm surprised and very disappointed that the gun made it past our security systems. Trust me that we'll be looking into that very, very carefully. I will personally lead the investigation."

With sadness I thanked her for confirming what I didn't really want to hear… of course I didn't want to see what I saw either but life is like that sometimes. Not all of life is happy and hunky dory all the time. I made a mental note to contact children's services the following day.

I returned to Wayne's room, entered physician notes, electronically signed my name and then took off for the ER after seeing that his pulse had returned to near normal ranges.

The nursing director accompanied me to the ER after telling her the primary reason why I was at the hospital on a non-call night. She was interested in Joey's welfare, almost as much as I was, but not quite.

Dave and the boys were anxiously waiting in the waiting room. I sat down. Because of confidentiality laws and regulations I was not able to tell them what had had happened. Perhaps I'd tell Joey, in confidence, alone, about what happened but I wasn't sure it was necessary.

At 11:45 Dr. Silverstein appeared. He motioned for me to follow him. Dave came with me. Much to my surprise, Timmy was leading Nathan and Derrick. I told Dave, "Hospital rules are meant to be broken..."

Dave snickered then wrapped his arm around my shoulders. He said, "Our little family is growing."

I smiled.

"Let me go in first." I said quietly. As I opened the door both boys were peering around me trying to see Joey. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was to startle my son. Muscle spasms were going to be a huge issue for him.

Nathan put his arm around my waist. The boy was worried about his brother. Like I said, rules are meant to be broken.

"Timmy, I'll come back and get you." I said.

He nodded.

Slowly, Nathan and I entered the trauma bay. Joey looked fairly peacefully asleep... though he did open his eyes. Thankfully he didn't jump. Nathan looked to me... his unspoken request was to go to his brother to see for himself that he was okay, or as okay as he could be … under the circumstances.

When I walked to the side of Joey's bed Nathan followed. His grip on my waist strengthened with each step. Joey reached his hand out to his brother. Nathan slightly touched Joey's shoulder... he was afraid he was going to hurt Joey.

I lowered the side rail on the gurney to permit him full access to his brother. I walked around to the other side and did the same to the stretcher. I took Joey's hand in mine to show Nathan that it was very much okay for him to touch his brother, that he wasn't going to break, and that he wasn't a China doll or a piece of expensive crystal that would break with the slightest ripple.

"Are you okay?" Nathan asked very quietly.

"I will be." Joey said then puckered his lips up for a kiss from his brother first. Nathan readily accommodated Joey's unspoken request then Joey turned to me... I kissed him too.

"How bad is it, mom?" Joey asked, wincing slightly.

"Well, honey, you have several cracked ribs. You have some fluid on your lungs but that's pretty normal because it hurts so much to take a deep breath which would help to clear the water away. Your heart and blood vessels in your chest are all just fine. The big artery coming out of your heart is bigger than we see for most guys your age. This is the main reason we did the arteriogram... just to make sure everything was fine and it was."

"I got to see the dyes get injected." Nathan said proudly, "It went through your heart... I saw it go... it was neat." I could notice that Nathan was relaxing a whole lot by just talking to and seeing his brother up close and personal.

Joey said, "They shaved off my pubes. They started on the right side but... that just looked weird so I asked them to shave them both."

Nathan giggled, "I'm going to keep mine. They keep me warm down there."

Joey rolled his eyes just as Dr. Silverstein entered. He sat down at the computer terminal, punched in some data, then waited for the screen filled with x-ray images and lab studies to appear. Once everything was up he went to Joey's bed and raised it to about 45 degrees so that my boy could see the display monitor. He proceeded to show him the fractured ribs on both sides of his chest, then showed him the actual dye injection sequence all the while pointing out the arteries and veins filled with contrast media, and how his heart and blood vessels looked perfectly normal, although his aorta appeared big for his age, height and weight, but that he was not worried about its size.

Dr. Silverstein then pulled up images of Joey's abdomen. I hadn't seen those. Clearly, he had a pocket of blood just behind and below his spleen in the upper left quadrant of his belly. Those were usually worrisome... with that much blood; even though the quantity was not all that much... we watched those patients very, very carefully. The first order of business was a CT scan, which would determine if surgery was indicated. The line was very fine about when to operate and when to just carefully observe over a relatively short period of time. Mostly the decision is based on preferences of the surgeon. I tended to be conservative, meaning I did not rush patients to the OR with that injury.

I pulled down the sheet covering Joey's chest and belly to his belly button. Immediately, I noticed many bruises over his chest and in the area of his spleen, and the rest of his abdomen looked like it had been punched and kicked. He was very tender all over. I took the sheet on down. His testicles looked okay though he was bruised on his legs on either side. I said, "Joey, we're going to get a CT scan of your belly. This is just a precaution. You have a little bit of bleeding up here <I touched the area of his belly that we were most concerned with>." I then returned the sheet to provide his privacy.

Dr. Silverstein said, "Dr. Mauer, if you don't mind I would like to get a pediatric surgery consult." I nodded knowing that if Joey needed an operation there would be no way that I'd do it... mother's do not perform surgery on their children, or shouldn't. A parent or relative simply does not have the objectivity that is needed... what if the patient went south? What if the patient died on the table? There were just too many scenarios.

With that said the CT scan people were called. After Nathan kissed Joey's lips one more time, I allowed both Dave and Timmy to enter to see Joey.

Their visit was very brief because the folks came to get Joey.

Forty five minutes later Joey was returned. Both Dr. Silverstein and Dr. Jay, the pediatric surgeon, agreed that surgery was not indicated at that time but that another CT scan in 2 hours was recommended, and then repeated again in 6 hours. If there were no changes or the changes were minimal then no operation would be indicated.

Although it may seem to be overkill, we three decided to admit Joey to the ICU so that he could be closely monitored. If everything went okay then he could go home the following day provided no other complications arose.

Another reason for admission was pain management. He would be given some very strong medication... medicine too strong to be given at home. We volunteered Dr. Jay to break the 'bad' news to Joey because Joey wanted to go home.

He took the news fairly well, all things considered. As a final examination prior to going upstairs Dr. Jay performed a quick rectal examination. That caused Joey to tense up which set off a series of muscle spasms that were quickly controlled by a fairly large intravenous dose of a muscle relaxant. Joey could have cared less what we did after that injection.

We got him admitted and upstairs in the SICU without too much jiggling and jostling around during transfer from the gurney to the free air ICU bed. The nurses turned on the heating lamps then removed all sheets and blankets.

All of his vital signs were within normal ranges. He slightly responded when Dave and I kissed him on our way out of the hospital.

We put the boys to bed and tucked them in. Timmy was extremely apologetic because he felt directly responsible for Joey's injuries... it was true but it was time to move on and just do what needed to be done to get him back home and healing. We didn't downplay the severity but we didn't hone in and blast him either.

As planned, the hospital called at about 3:15am. Dr. Jay, the on-call surgeon, said that the bleed enlarged just a little bit but it was not terribly concerning... he would continue to watch him carefully.

I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, and with one tired hombre of a husband lying next to me with his arm around my chest, his hand resting gently on my neck.

Six thirty arrived too soon. Dave was going to get the boys off to school while I went into work. I had a couple of elective but necessary surgeries to perform early on. I got showered, dressed, and headed to the hospital by 7:30.

My first stop was the SICU, of course. Joey was awake and very uncomfortable. He looked so small on that bed, pale, slightly sweaty, and his eyes looked oh so tired. His vitals had been normal all night long. His bruises were more pronounced as I knew they would be. His belly was even sorer than it had been the night before, as I knew it would be.

"Hey buddy. You're going to be okay. We might keep you in the hospital one more day. You are going to be so very sore that it won't even be funny... that and we need to see what your CT scan scheduled for later this morning will show. Are you having too many muscle spasms?"

"No, not really... I mean they give me medicine and stuff... it helps a lot. Mom?" Joey asked worriedly.

"Uhm hmm."

"Uhm... is this going to screw my clean time? I mean... the drugs... you know..."

I pulled up a chair, sat down next to my son, took his hand in mine, squeezed lightly, and then said very seriously, "Joey, you were injured through no fault of your own. Those injuries produce severe pain. Severe pain has to be medicated. Your medications are carefully dosed. The dosage is calculated using your body weight and pain levels. If your pain levels are too high... you could 'potentially' want to use other substances or alcohol to deaden the pain. Let me check your chart..."

I pulled up Joey's hospital records and then went to the administered medications page. I returned to Joey and continued, "Joey, you are not using any more pain medication than any other patient would use to control the pain. You have a very painful injury. As I tell all of my patients, and I'm telling you as your mother … don't be a martyr. If you want me to I'll call Tom for you and fill him on what's going on I will be glad to."

"Yeah, please." Joey then deeply contemplated what he was going to say next. Hesitatingly he looked into my eyes and said, "Mom, I don't hate Timmy, but I can't live in that situation. And I will not subject my brother, Nathan, to it either. If it ever happens again then it will be Timmy or us... I'm sorry mom for putting you into this position. Nathan and I are trying to change our lives... if we have to fight then we might as well go back and take our chances."

"Honey, Timmy knows that he used his lifetime one free pass. You are all equal on the free passes. Nathan acted like I'd never seen him yesterday... when he jumped on Timmy. I understand his fierce protection of his dad and brothers... but I was not prepared for the level of anger that he has inside. Joey, it scared me. Your dad had to pull Nathan off of Timmy... I had no doubt that Nathan was going for everything." I said looking all the while looking intensely into his eyes and never wavering, not even once.

Joey closed his eyes. A tear escaped from his left one and ran down his face and into his ear. Then another. And then another.

I cupped my hand onto his cheek, patted it lightly then reached in and kissed my son's other cheek. That was something he was going to have to come to grips with, with a little help from a, as he calls the professional, head banger.

I said, "Okay, I need to go to surgery for a few hours. Dr. Jay will be in and check you over... probably pretty soon. I love you, Joey. This is going to work out, I promise. Give me a kiss."

*-* Joey's POV *-*

I fell into a drug induced sleep... I didn't like the feeling but every time I went too long between pain medications it hurt so bad that I started crying. I didn't want to tell mom that the medicines were not doing all that well for fear that she'd worry.

Dr. Jay entered my cubicle a short time later. He told me that the blood in my belly had slightly increased during the night, and that if there was even a little more blood that morning then he was going to go ahead and operate... he said that the time to make a decision one way or the other had simply arrived. I agreed because I wanted to get back home, and get life back to normal, whatever normal meant.

Right after he left, not five minutes later, a very large man entered the cubicle with a nurse. The nurse introduced the man, "Joey, this is Detective Samuelson. He's from the internal affairs department of the police department and he wants to ask you some questions."

"Hello Joey. I'm pleased to meet you but am so very sorry that it has to be under these circumstances. I'm not here to interrogate you but if you would like your parent or parents present then I'll put my interview off until another time, soon though, our department has some issues that need resolutions. Do you want to talk to me now or do you want your parents here? It is your choice. You are in no trouble, and like I said you will not be interrogated. I just want to know what happened last night."

"I guess it's okay... uhm... can you come back in a little while... I need to... uhm... you know... use the bathroom..."

"Oh sure, I'll go to the waiting room..." And then to the nurse he added, "If you would be so kind as to let me know when to return I will be most grateful."

The nurse agreed. The detective left my room... I heard his footsteps go off in the distance until I couldn't hear them any longer.

Crystal, the nurse, handed me the urinal... I shook my head no then closed my eyes as a muscle spasm began to grip my chest. I thought I was going to die... Crystal injected a little bit of medication so that the spasms would subside.

I hate bedpans. They are cold. They are so damned impersonal. At least she turned my bed so that my private areas faced the wall. Nothing happened because it hurt too damned much to exert myself in the normal way so she irrigated using a little water which broke things up, which didn't require me to push down, thank God for small miracles!

The detective returned, sat down in a chair, told me that he was going to record my statement, that there was nothing to worry about, and once again reiterated that all he wanted to know was what happened.

I told him everything... that I was jumped, that I was savagely beaten, kicked and bludgeoned, and beat some more, and that Officer Charles Williams was the dude who did all of it. I would recognize his pock marked face anywhere.

He asked, "How do you know Officer Williams?"

"Uhm... well... I don't know how much you know about my past... I think I now want my mom or dad or my attorney (I had no attorney that I knew of)... I'm not hiding from that stuff any more... but well... you know."

"Okay, fair enough. Did you have any weapons on you at the time of the incident?" He asked.

"No sir. Like I said I was jumped. I did not have a weapon." I replied truthfully, seriously.

"Were there witnesses present to the incident?" He asked professionally.

"Heck yeah there was. There were cops all over the place. I counted 8 cars, ambulances and fire. You should already know that." I said incredulously.

"How did you know that?"

"Because I counted them."

"You counted them... how did you count them when you were..."

"Look, I was at a friend's house. I received a text message from my brother to get home ASAP. So I went. I checked the situation out when I got home... I was in my yard. I was jumped from behind... that's all I remember." I replied truthfully... but I was getting 'annoyed' but I tried to maintain because I didn't want to feel those muscle spasms... again.

"What's your friend's name?"



"Yes, Jeff… J-e-f-f as in Jeff."

"Okay, does he have a last name?"

"I don't know it. We'd just met... I played basketball with him and his friends."

"What's his address?"

"I don't know that either. He lives on the right side of the street a few houses up from the corner next to my house... it has a basketball thing in front in the driveway. Are you about finished... I'm hurting..."

"Mr. Mauer, do you have any doubts about the identity of your 'attacker'?"

"No sir. I'd know that face... he's a fucking piece of scum who likes little boys asses." I said then realized what I'd said after I'd said it. I said, "I'm finished. I want my mom or dad here." I then pushed the button to call the nurse. I also grimaced in severe pain as a muscle spasm rocked my world... "Fuck." was the only intelligent word I could mutter.

I was not aware when the detective left the room. But I do remember when the nurse arrived and injected me with a huge dose of life saving pain medicine.

A few minutes later a doctor arrived along with an orderly and another doctor arrived to take me to x-ray. Dr. Jay introduced the one doctor as an anesthesiologist... I don't remember his name, and the other doctor was a surgical resident, his name I don't remember either.

Dr. Jay said, "Joey, we're going to take you down for another set of x-rays and a CT scan. We are going to put you to sleep so that you don't feel us moving you around. The medicine is safe... we are simply not going to subject you to the pain... and we need to move you around so that we can get some really good pictures. Your mother is aware. She will be down between cases."

"Okay, thanks."

Lights out.

*-* Moms' POV *-*

"Thank you." I said to the OR staff as I degowned and gloved. I headed to the radiology department where Joey was going to get specialized x-rays to determine if he did or if he didn't require an operation on his belly.

When I arrived he was asleep, as I knew he would be under total amnesia anesthesia. I helped to position my boy on the CT table. Against all medical protocol, I leaned down and kissed the side of his lips and whispered, "Love ya, I'm here son."

The technician injected the dye and the test was performed. He had no further bleeding. The external capsule of the spleen was bruised but not overly so. His chest x-ray revealed that the fluid in his lungs had increased a little bit, but not enough to be all that worrisome.

I finished my last surgery at about 3:30pm. I headed the SICU to check on my son, and another patient that I'd operated on earlier that morning. The latter was doing fine.

Joey was awake and receiving his bed bath. The nurse had just started so I took over which she found odd until I told her who I was to Joey. The look on her face was priceless, not one to be forgotten anytime soon.

Dr. Jay arrived and said my boy could be discharged to home with explicit instructions to take it easy. He gave me a prescription for a total of 60 milligrams of Morphine for injection into an IV port in his arm. He didn't have to tell me to use it sparingly.

Dave arrived just as I was finishing Joey's bath. He took over and did points Southbound while I got Joey a pair of small scrubs to put on since his clothes had been cut off during the ride in the ambulance.

We gave up on the scrub shirt. After tying his bottoms so that they wouldn't fall off his thin frame, Dave, a nurse and I got him up on his feet. He wasn't too steady though so we did the wheelchair thing despite his protests (all for naught, even with his lopsided grin).

After some difficulty, we got home after filling the prescriptions. Rather than putting Joey to bed we propped him up on pillows in his Dave's recliner chair in the family room. He was very, very uncomfortable so I gave him 6 milligrams of Morphine in 3 divided doses or 2 milligrams each.

Much to my surprise Dave talked to Joey about his interview with the detective at the hospital and then Dave dropped a bomb shell. He said that a young man had come forward and told the detective what actually happened. He was able to identify the perpetrator from pictures the police department has of its officers.

Subsequently, Williams was arrested and charged with first degree felonious assault on a minor and that his cash-only bond had been set at $100,000.00. As it turned out the boy's uncle was a police officer himself. Dave had the opportunity to talk with him. Although Williams had gotten off before he was going to make damn sure that the bad cop was taken down, and taken down hard.

Joey asked, "Who was it? Who came forward? I was alone."

"Jeff Green. He lives close to us, just up the block and around the corner. He told me that you and he played basketball in their driveway... remember him?" Dave said.

"Yeah. Kewl." Joey said. I turned around... Joey had tears in his eyes.

I said, "Sounds like he's definitely friend material, Joey."

"Oh definitely. He's been clean and sober since September. He knows Tom. Mom... dad... you remember me telling you that Williams was one of my paying customers, right?"

"Yes." Dave replied readily then added, "He wasn't even charged with the stuff he did to you. The detective said that more serious charges could now be filed if you were willing to go through with it. I assured him that he would indeed follow through."

I awoke with a startle. The room was quiet. Dave was lying on his usual left side. I was hot and sweaty... way off in the distance I thought I heard my name 'mom' being called but I couldn't be sure... but I'd learned to trust my motherly instincts long ago with Derrick. I then heard a boy coughing, weakly screaming at the same time... in a flash I was at Joey's side. He had been settled into Dave's recliner when we'd gone to bed. I leaned in, kissed my sons' cheek, and rearranged his pillows.

"I'll be right back with some Morphine." I said but then Joey grabbed my wrist, "Mom, I like the Morphine too much. I'm scared. Where's my phone? I gotta pee. I gotta poop. I'm a mess, mom. I feel like I'm coming down or something. I'm messed up. I can't go back, mom. What do I do? I don't know. Mom, I realized today that I love Skeeter. I just about cheated on him. I just about had sex with that Jeff guy. What about Timmy, mom? Are you guys going to give up on him? You didn't quit with me, and you sure could have. Where's my phone? Where did I lose it? Oh mom, I'm crazy. How's Wayne, you haven't told me anything about him? He's still at the hospital, or did he die?"

"Hold up son. Slow down. Take a slow deep breath. Relax."

"I can't relax. That's just it. I'm coming down. The only thing that will fix it is more, and then more won't be enough until it's all gone. I'm all hot and sweaty, mom. I stink. I'm drug sick, mom."

That broke my heart. He'd worked so hard. Then a thought came to my mind, "Joey, listen to me very carefully. Just slow down and listen, I'm not going to BS you…"

Joey deeply looked into my eyes. I took his hand in mine then said, "Slow down, my son. You're having a reaction to the Morphine. Because we're addicts we think that we're drug sick when we don't have our stuff. But you're just having a reaction to the medication. Trust me – I thought very long and hard about getting the Morphine prescription filled. I only did it because your injuries are extremely painful. I would be more concerned if your pain wasn't treated. We look for something to make our inner pain go away – that's our addiction talking. I noticed that a lot of Morphine was required to sufficiently sedate you and to make your pain more manageable. It's been about 2½ hours since your last dose. Tell you what: let's keep you sedate for 24 hours until you learn how to move and how to not move otherwise I'm going to worry about you more than I already do. We'll give you frequent very low doses – just enough so that you can be up and around."

"Okay, I guess, I need to talk to Tom in the morning. Okay, you know what you're doing. I trust you. Uhm, I really do need to use the can. Maybe I can take a dose right now before I go? I can't even imagine what it's going to feel like…"

"Okay, I'll be right back. I'm going to give you 2 milligrams to start with. We'll see how that goes. But you'll have to tell me. I trust you too, Joey." I said then leaned over and kissed Joey's forehead.

Carefully I'd measured 2 milligrams, flicked all the air bubbles out and then injected it into this boy who was watching me do it.

That was sufficient for him to get out of the recliner with my help. He was a bit woozy but used me and the chair to steady himself. He walked to the bathroom okay, sat down and took care of business which took no effort since the nurse at the hospital had given him a mild laxative.

Valiantly he tried to take care of the rest but finally he sat back totally exhausted from the effort. At that time a very sleepy Nathan appeared in the doorway. Joey contritely asked his brother, "Nathan, I need some help here, please."

Nathan quickly turned around to face us then said, "You need MY help, since when? I mean, sure I'll help. You've never asked me for anything before. I'm surprised. What do you need, big bro?"

"Okay boys, I'm going to leave so you can have your privacy." I said then headed into the kitchen to pour three glasses of milk. On my way out of the hallway Nathan exclaimed, "No way dude, oh come on man, you've got to be shitting me."

I grinned then I heard Joey scream in agony and laugh at the very same time, he screamed again, and then laughed, then screamed until he could scream no more. Nathan was no help, none whatsoever.

I went to my office, drew up 3 milligrams then returned to the bathroom. When I arrived I had to turn away from them because tears sprang from my eyes at seeing the full extent of Nathan's love for his brother. Very carefully, very lovingly, very brotherly, and very tenderly Nathan was tending to Joey's needs. When Nathan said he was done, I turned to face them. Joey looked up and saw me standing in the doorway. He grinned wryly then nodded affectionately.

The amazing power of love never ceases to catch in my throat.

"There, we're almost done, don't go anywhere." Nathan said tenderly. His tongue was hanging half way out of his mouth. He does that when he's deeply concentrating on something. He reached into the cabinet, fetched a washcloth, got it wet then soaped it up and then returned to Joey and washed his area for him, "I couldn't get it all, Joey. Man you stink. I mean body stink, you're clean down there though. Joey?"


"Can I give you a bath like you used to do for me when I was a little boy?"

Joey immediately turned away from Nathan. He looked at me then Nathan turned around to see who Joey was looking at. Nathan shrugged his shoulders in shame.

"Nathan, don't go there. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Please give me a bath; maybe a shower would be easier." Joey said quickly, meaningfully, and tenderly.

"Mom, is it okay? Can I do it for my brother? Can you wash his hair – I don't want to get soap in his eyes… I mean, well, you know."

"I think you'll do just fine Nathan. Just follow your instincts." I said then I pulled out the syringe. When Joey nodded, I injected the medicine into his vein so that he wouldn't hurt so much.

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