Kaimoana Tales

by Kiwi

Riley

Part 26

They arrived and parked outside Kaimoana's small hospital. The trip in took forever in Riley's view, but it wasn't that long really. The hospital was conveniently sited on the side of the highway on the hill down into the town.

They hurried inside, Riley led the way, and stopped short when they saw the lady at the reception desk smile at them. Mrs. S. soon recovered and walked over.

"My Lord! For a minute there, I thought that you were Betty. Betty Stone works with us in the café. You surely do look like her."

"I've been told that before," the lady smiled. "Maybe it's because we're sisters. I'm Alice Kersten, you must be Dianne and Riley Sullivan."

"Yes, that's us. The resemblance is quite amazing. Are you twins?"

"No, just sisters. I'm the oldest. I suppose you've come in about the boy you found on the road?"

"Yes, of course."

"How is he?" Riley burst out. "Is he going to be okay?"

"We don't know yet; they're still working on him in there. But I can tell you this, things don't look too bad. The most serious cases are flown straight to Christchurch and no-one's talking about that. Not yet anyway."

"I hope it stays that way," his mum said. "I understand that you have some forms to complete. I don't know how much help we're going to be; we don't even know the boy's name. He's a complete stranger to us."

"He's a stranger to everyone. He's definitely not from around here or someone would've recognized him. Maybe he fell out of a car?"

"No, it wasn't like that," Riley said. "He was in Geese Bay, down by the shore. I found him there and he ran away from me, up on to the highway. He ran out in front of a car, it hit him and he flew through the air and - damm! I thought I'd killed him."

"No, you haven't killed him. He's going to be fine. Actually, Doctor says that the injuries from the accident are the least of his problems. He got some bumps and he's going to have some spectacular bruises, but it doesn't look like there are any broken bones or anything. He was very lucky."

"So it would seem," Mrs. S. agreed. "You don't know what else is wrong with him?"

"Not really, no. My guess would be that he's severely malnourished - suffering from lack of nutrition. He's been living rough, obviously, and every little wound has become infected."

"The state of him wouldn't be helping that."

"It wouldn't. Basically, the boy's a mess. Whoever's been looking after him hasn't been doing a very good job."

"He might've run away from a circus or something," Riley said.

"I doubt that. Any circus that treated its livestock like that wouldn't be in business for long. Besides, he's not an animal, he's a boy, a boy in a mess. The poor kid!"

"He might have been a wild-man in a sideshow or something. He couldn't really be a caveman, could he?"

"No, of course he couldn't. There's caves out there but there are no cavemen. Let's get these forms filled in as well as we can, shall we?"

They completed what they could of the paperwork, and then Mrs. S. said that she had to be getting back to the café.

"Life goes on, Riley. We can't just sit here all night."

"Maybe you can't, but I can. I'm not leaving, Mum. I have to know what happens to him."

"Okay then, suit yourself. But at least come home and eat. You can come back later."

"I'm not going home, I'm not hungry."

"Not hungry? Really? I think that the doctor should have a look at you too."

"Mum! I'm just not hungry. I'll eat when I get home."

"I'm sure you will. Don't be all night then."

He wasn't waiting for too long. The doctor and two nurses came out and went through to the back somewhere. The doctor just nodded at him and kept walking, but one of the nurses stopped.

"Hello there. Are you the one who found our Jungle-boy?"

"That's me. I'm Riley. Is he going to be all right?"

"He's going to be fine, no worries. The biggest job was cleaning him up and that's not finished yet. We haven't even started on that hair yet. He's a lucky kid."

"Everyone keeps saying that he's lucky, but he's not. He isn't! He got hit by a bloody car and it was my fault that he did. That's not lucky."

"Oh, but it was. Okay, it was not much fun getting run-over, but it could've been a lot worse. There's no broken bones and hardly any injuries at all. However, the accident caused him to be brought in here and he's got a lot of other problems that need seeing to. If he hadn't been hit and went on the way he's been going, he wouldn't have lasted much longer."

"Wouldn't have lasted? Do you mean that he's dying?"

"He might have. He's a sick boy. But now he's in the right place where we can look after him."

"You will, won't you? Look after him, I mean."

"Of course we will, Riley. That's what we do here. He'll get the best of care. Doctor Stevens has got a soft-spot for boys around that age."

"He has? Why? He's not gay, is he?"

"No," she laughed. "He's not gay. He had son who died of leukemia at 14, so he hates seeing any kids get ill and he'll move heaven and earth to help them."

"Well, that's - yeah - I guess that's good, in a way."

"In a way, yes. So, you see your friend there couldn't have come to a better place. We'll clean him up, clean him out and fill him up with antibiotics and drugs to fight the infections. What he needs most of all is a proper diet and he'll get that too."

"There was an awful lot of blood on him."

"There was, but most of it is not his. He must've been butchering some animal. It'll wash off."

"Oh, that's good. He's not my friend, you know. I don't even know him."

"I don't imagine that that will last for very long. You're obviously very upset by all of this. He's sleeping now and will be for quite a while. Go home, Riley. Go home and get some rest. You can come back and see him tomorrow, we'll have him looking a bit more presentable by then."

"I, umm, yeah. I will then. I'll come back in the morning."

"No, not in the morning. If he's awake, which I doubt, we'll be busy working on him. You can come back after school, he's not going anywhere."

"After school? Okay, I will. Can I have a look at him before I go?"

"Well, we shouldn't, but okay. What harm can it do? Just for a minute; come through here."

"Thank you, Nurse. Thanks for everything."

"You're welcome, Riley. Call me Tammy, that's my name, not Nurse."

"Thanks, Tammy. My name is Riley."

"I know that," she smiled.

He was a pathetic sight, lying on the bed in the recovery room. Riley gulped and tears welled-up as he stood looking down at him. Which was stupid, but he couldn't help it - the boy looked so small and vulnerable. It was not fair! Kids should not get into a state like that. It was not right. Where was his family?

"Are you all right, Riley?" Tammy broke the silence.

"Yeah, I'm fine thanks. I'm good, but he's not."

"It's not as bad as it looks. The monitors are just to keep an eye on him. The drip in his arm is a saline solution to get some nutrients and antibiotics into him, plus a little something to relax him and keep him sleeping."

"What have you done to his hair?"

"Nothing yet. It's just tied back to keep it out of the way. It's a mess and it's going to have to come off. We'll get a hairdresser in to do that and make a decent job of it."

"That's good. But, what are all the purple patches, bruises?"

"No, they're not. Not much anyway. It's mostly just stains from the disinfectant swabs. It'll wash off. Don't worry, he'll be fine and he's in good hands. If I was ill, this is where I'd want to be. You go home and get some food in you and try to get a good night's sleep."

"I will. I'll try to anyway. Thanks, Tammy. I'll see you tomorrow."

"We'll be here, so we'll see you then - after school."

"Yeah, bye."

Riley left the hospital, but he didn't go home. He went the other way to go and see the other boy he'd been worrying about - Peter.

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