Puppy For Sale

by Westcliff Writer

Chapter 32 - Trying To Get Answers

After hearing the front door go I excitedly hobbled into the hallway and leant over the banisters to see if Dave was with Steven. It was around the time Steven got in from school and I just hoped he had invited his friend back again. My hopes were dashed though when I heard Max's voice call out to Susan.

I went back into the bedroom and slumped on my bed like some lovesick idiot. I heard Max coming up the stairs and assumed he was coming up to get changed out of his work gear. That was until he appeared in our bedroom.

"You're home early," I stated, managing a smile.

"Yeah, we got the job done quicker than I thought. Anyway, get your shoes on… or shoe, should I say," he said looking down at my fat bandaged foot.

"Why, where are we-"

"Greenstone!"

"Really?" I asked, my eyes lighting up.

"Well I know you won't be able to rest until you know what's going on, and I think we owe it to Cindy to make sure everything is ok. But Puppy, Don't set your hopes to high, we may come away knowing as little as we do now, I just want you to be prepared for that."

"Yeah… yeah sure."

"Good, I just need to go and let Susan know what we are doing. When you are ready, meet me down stairs."

With that he walked out and I heard him clomp back down the stairs. I sat for a few moments wondering if this was a good idea. I didn't want Max to get in any bother, but at the same time I agreed that things didn't feel right and I needed to know if I was ever going to be able to get a good night's sleep.

I pulled on my sneaker and strapped up my support boot to my bad foot. Having been out to see the chickens today I knew that a warm coat was going to be mandatory so I unhooked my fleece jacket from the back of the door and limped towards the stairs.

As I approached the bottom of the stairs I could hear Max and Susan having a conversation. I really sounded like she was trying to talk him out of going. He seemed determined though and the last thing she said was…

"Just be careful Max."

"I will Honey… oh, Puppy, there you are, are you ready to go?" He asked as I hobbled into the kitchen.

"As I'll ever be."

"Good, I need to put some Diesel in the van and then we'll make our way there, sound ok?"

"Yeah sure," I responded, shrugging.

We both headed towards the front door and just as Max opened it Steven was outside holding his key up just about to place it in the door. A conflict of interest immediately entered my mind as I saw Dave standing right behind him.

Damn!

"Hey Steven, hello Dave… how was school?"

"Crap, as usual," Steven replied.

"It was good, we did swimming today, Mr Chase," came Dave's response. Max just smiled and let them pass. Dave gave me a shy smile as they both started to head towards the kitchen.

"Where are you two off to?" Steven asked. Dave and I locked eyes and I soon had to look away, feeling heat rush to my face.

"Going up to the old Greenstone place to find out some info on Cindy, we'll see you guys later."

"Sure," Steven replied, and he moved off into the kitchen. Dave snapped out of his trance and followed him. I put my hand up about to call out to him, but Max placed his hand round my shoulder and gestured me outside, not aware of the intense urge I had to explain to Dave why I never responded to his text… that was if he had actually sent it.

A hundred thoughts raced through my mind as I stepped outside. What if Dave thought, that me not responding meant that I didn't like him? What if he was now so embarrassed because I didn't respond, that it had ruined the situation? What if me not saying anything to him at the front door meant he assumed I didn't care? Oh my god, I need to stay here and sort this out, my mind screamed.

It was too late, I was already in the van being driven away.

"You've gone quiet," Max observed.

"What… oh, really, nah, I'm fine. Just thinking that's all."

"Well I've learnt that thinking can hurt your head if you don't share it… so c'mon, what's up, tell your old man."

"I really want to lie to you because it would be easier, but…"

"You can lie if you want, but I doubt it will make you feel better."

I sighed. "I feel so guilty."

"Why?" Max asked, throwing me a concerned frown.

"Because I love Cindy with all my heart, but Dave just turns up and I really wanted to stay and talk to him."

"Dave?"

"Yeah… look it doesn't matter." I said, forcing a smile on to my lips.

"Look I can always turn round and we can do this another day. But I don't know why Dave would be more important than… oooh, hang on," Max said, seeing me drop my head sheepishly. "You like Dave, is that it?"

"Kind of," I replied, barely audible.

"And that's why you feel guilty?"

I looked up at him. "For wanting to skip finding out what's happened to my best friend in the world because I have a stupid crush on one of Steven's friends? Yeah I feel guilty. I said, getting angry with myself.

"Crushes can cause strong emotions, Puppy; It's not something you should feel guilty about."

"Well I do because I spent four years of my life with Cindy and I have met Dave three times. I'm not being fair to her for even thinking about which one is more important to me."

"Don't beat yourself up. I am sure Cindy would want you to be happy and I am sure she would be made up that you are having the opportunity to even have a crush on someone."


Max turned into the small road that led up to the grounds of Greenstone. I never thought I would be coming back here other than to visit Cindy, now I am here to find out why she is NOT here. A surge of adrenaline ran through my veins as the building came into view. It was the first time I'd been back since being driven away from here in the other direction. I don't know why but I expected it to look different, but it didn't.

Max pulled up close to the entrance not bothering to park the van in a proper space. We both exited his van and he walked up the main door, ringing the bell. I stood behind him like some scared dog wondering who it would be who answered the door.

"Can I help you," came a voice over the intercom.

Well that was new, I thought, never knowing the intercom to be in use. Usually one of the staff would just open the door.

"I would like to speak to Mr Watson please."

"Can I say who is asking for him."

"Max Chase, Jensen Stibbing's father."

"One moment please." The woman replied as the intercom fell silent. I didn't recognise the voice, but it was not uncommon for staff changes to happen. Some people I found were just not suited to the job of looking after homeless children with multiple issues. Some kids here had seen horrible things that had affected their young minds. Some were just here because they had no other family. It was a mixed bag and I sympathised with every child within those walls.

Moments later the main door clicked and Mr Watson stepped out on to the concrete porch.

"Mr Chase, and Puppy, what a surprise… dear oh dear, that foot looks painful, painful, Puppy. So what brings you both back to Greenstone?"

"Huh?" Max said, a little surprised. "I spoke to you the yesterday, about Cindy Batton?"

"Oh, yes… I'm sorry Mr Chase, you'll have to forgive me, we've had a busy week here. What with four new children arriving and some changes in staff it's been quite hectic. So how can I help you regarding one of our children here?"

"So she is here?"

"I'm really not at liberty to say Mr Chase."

I stepped out from behind Max. "Mr Watson, I'm worried about Cindy, I know you cant tell us much because I don't live here anymore, but for me, can you just tell me she is ok and whether she is still here or not?" I pleaded.

Mr Watson took a deep breath. "This is entirely against our rules," he muttered. "You had better come inside."

Mr Watson led us through the corridor and upstairs to his office. Thankfully I didn't see anyone on our short trip there, staff nor children. I was really reluctant to get into any kind of conversation about my new life. Greenstone had been good to me yes, but it also harboured negative memories of how I used to be… and feel. Meeting anyone I feared would just rake up old memories.

Mr Watson stood to the side and let us into his office before coming in himself and closing the door. His office was exactly the same as I remember it. I had been in this room so many times in the past it was so easy to feel a little haunted by its contents.

"Can I get you both a drink at all?" Watson asked, sitting down at his desk. We both declined as I got the feeling Max didn't want to be here just as much as I didn't.

Max was first to speak.

"Puppy said he called this place and spoke to Charlotte who said Cindy was not in her room, indicating that she was still here, and yet when I had spoken to you, you had told me that Cindy had been placed with new parents. Mr Watson, you know how close Puppy and Cindy were, for his sake, not mine, would you please be able to give us some information?"

"As you know, Mr Chase, we have to respect the wishes of new parents that adopt a child. Even you, Sir. If someone who knew Puppy got in touch with us to find out information about him we would not be at liberty to discuss that. With this in mind Mr Chase I hope you understand the position I and my staff are in."

"But-"

"However… because I am aware of Puppy and Cindy's relationship I will reveal some minor details to allay your concerns."

"Anything you can tell us Mr Watson… anything at all," Max said, sitting forward on his chair.

"Firstly, my conversation with you Mr Chase was based on truth. Cindy is no longer with us and has indeed been placed with new parents. I was not aware of the conversation between Puppy and Charlotte Grange and so I am unable to comment on that. Secondly, I wish to assure you that the parents that Cindy is now with are lovely caring people who lost their only child in a fire six years ago. Just like you Mr Chase they were fully vetted as standard. Does that put your mind at rest?"

"Yes, thank you," Max replied.

"Not mine!" I blurted, causing them to both look at me. "Cindy knew I would be calling her, in fact she asked me to. So why, if her move was done so quickly was she not allowed to call me and let me know?"

"I cannot be sure about that exact circumstance, Puppy. What I do know is that Cindy's new parents asked that she not be contacted by anyone from this home as they wanted her to have a fresh start." Mr Watson, replied.

"Well if these loving parents as you called them loved her at all, they would never stop her having access to the only friend she had in over four years… her best friend." I said, irritated.

"Puppy, I understand your frustration, bit I honestly have no knowledge of why you were not called by Cindy before she left. It may be just a case of her moving and not having your number, after all she would have called you from the home using one of our phones."

"Well… well if she is at her new parents then she could call from there. I doubt very much she would have just left my contact details behind. She knows how important our friendship is."

Mr Watson sighed. "I'm very sorry Puppy; I don't have any more details I can give you."

Max had been sitting quietly throughout our exchange. I really wanted him to back me up in what I was saying but quickly realised that there was nothing he could back up, because there were, as Mr Watson stated, no more details on the how or why of all this.

"Well, thank you for your time Mr Watson, and for telling us what you could."

"I wish there was more I could tell you both, but there really isn't." I grunted and left my seat, heading towards the door. "How are things Puppy, you look well? Apart from that foot, obviously," Mr Watson called out as I was about to leave his view.

"I am well, yes. Thank you for asking. How is Doctor Listern," I asked. Causing Max to form a stern look on his face.

"Erm, Doctor Listern is no longer with us, Puppy. Soon after you left Greenstone he gave his notice to me."

"Oh?"

"Yes, it was sad to see him go, but somehow, I think he felt his time here was done."

I could have picked apart that comment from Mr Watson, but I didn't need to, I knew what he was getting at. Instead I just decided to smile and nod, before saying goodbye and heading towards the stairs. I paused and turned around to Mr. Watson, "Mr. Watson. Please note in my file that if anyone tries to contact me that it would be alright to give them my information. It's possible that Cindy lost my number or something. I wouldn't want your rules to come into play if she's trying to get in touch with me."

Mr. Watson looked to Max for his approval. Max nodded his assent. "I shall make note of it. Good luck puppy."

Back outside, Max unlocked the van and allowed me to get in. The vehicle was now cold and so was I. I could feel myself relaxing a little as we left the grounds and got back on to the main road. It was getting dark and the drive home was slow as everyone seemed to be on the road for some reason.

"Feel better?" Max said, breaking the silence.

I had to think about that. "Yes and no. Yes I'm glad we found out what we did, but no because this whole not calling me thing is just not like Cindy… I mean, it's not like she would just not bother to call me. I still think something is messed up with that, I just wish I knew what."

"You heard what Mr Watson said, Cindy has gone to loving parents, and you have both begun new chapters in your lives, Puppy. Sometimes that's just the way life goes, people lose touch and move on. You and Cindy being together and close served a purpose to you both at the time, but-"

"That just sounds rather cold Max, what do you mean, it served a purpose? Just because I am no longer at Greenstone doesn't mean I should forget about her, why would you say that?"

"I'm sorry, that came out wrong. I'm just trying to make a point that maybe that's how she feels about things."

"What, that she has new parents now so screw, Puppy?"

"Look, I know she wouldn't think something in those blunt terms, but-"

"Your damn right she wouldn't, Max! I knew her, I knew everything about her and you saying that she has just been packed off to a new hone and didn't even give me a second thought is wrong… its fucking wrong!" I shouted, angrily. Max stayed silent. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to yell at you."

"Its fine, I can see you're frustrated. Maybe I could have worded things a little better."

"No Max, you're right, I just don't want to think that's a possibility that's all."

"You know, from the short time we have known each other, I can already see you are going to grow up to be a fine young man."

"Thank you," I said, wearing a much needed smile.


Max parked the van up outside the house and helped me out on to the side walk.

"You know, it really would have been a good idea to have given you some crutches, I'm not sure why the Doctor didn't want to."

"Yeah well, a little late now, and it is feeling better as the days go by."

"Hmm, well let's get inside, do you need some pain relief?"

"Yes please, Max."

As we got in Susan came straight to the door, obviously wanting news. Max started to explain before telling her I needed to take some pills. Susan informed us both that dinner was going to be late due to her forgetting to put the oven on."

"Pizza?" Max said, grinning at her mistake.

"Well the oven is on now… oh Max, how could I have been so stupid," she said, getting stressed.

"Honey, relax, it's not a big issue. Look, if you still wanna cook then fine, but I am happy to order in for us. Puppy? Do you want Tramadol or just Ibuprofen?"

"He's already had Tramadol today Max," Susan declared, taking the box from Max's hand. "And they make his heart race, as well as his mouth, I don't like them."

Max winked at me, holding up two Tramadol pills in his hand, that he'd stealthily taken from the packet. I grinned and put my thumbs up at him. Ok so they made me a little weird but they were awesome tablets and certainly did a better job than Susan's own alternative of Ibuprofen.

I left Max to deal with a rather uptight Susan and headed for my bedroom. I closed my eyes and prayed Dave was still here, but Max and I had been gone almost an hour and I knew that Dave had previously had to get back quite soon after arriving.

As I got to the top of the stairs the door was closed giving me some hope. But that was dashed as I went in and found Steven asleep on his bed.

Damn!

I tried to be as quiet as I could but he must have been lightly snoozing because his eyes opened just as I sat down on my own bed.

"Pleebhead, how was the kid prison?"

"I like you better when you sleep, its quieter," I replied, leaning forward and unstrapping my support boot.

"I brought Dave home for you and you split on us, he really wasn't happy about that," Steven said teasingly, before tutting.

"Fuck you Steven, I am not in the mood."

"Oooh, what's eating you?"

"Nothing, I'm just pissed off and in quite a bit of pain, that's all."

Steven jumped off his bed and came and knelt in front of me, placing his hands on my knees. "Is it your foot? Here let me help you with that strap… I'm sorry I teased you, that wound must be giving you hell."

I let Steven take off my boot and massage my ankle as I imagined he had seen me do to myself a number of times. "Thanks for laying off me, I'm sorry I snapped at you, it's been a rough afternoon."

"No worries, sometimes I joke around too much, I didn't know you were in pain. When my dad used to beat me, I used to find trying to take myself to a nice place helped with my pain. But everyone is different I guess."

"Its fine, Max has sorted me out some meds that I can take. Thank you though."

Steven then did something that will stay with me forever. He got to his feet and wrapped his arms around me pulling me into a hug. I sat there shocked for a few seconds before putting my arms round him, nestling my chin in his shoulder blade.

"Feel better?" he asked, the vibration of his voice against my face somehow comforting.

"Yeah, I do."

"Hey I got you some water with these pi… whoa, bromance, it's a beautiful thing," Max said, eyeing our embrace. Steven let go and went back to his bed, probably a little embarrassed Max had seen us. But that was ok.

It's a guy thing right?

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