Kaiser's Pavilion

by Bensiamin

Chapter 14

Classes had resumed for the final quarter after Spring Break, and it was a school night, so the meeting broke up. However, it had ended on a high note if the Belen Family Foundation was really going to do what Matt said they'd committed to.

The next day, Jerrod had dropped Roger off at home following their time with Sean and his mom at the park. When David got in from campus, he was sitting at the kitchen table reading a literature assignment with both dogs curled up below. Their chins were resting on his feet.

"Looks like a pretty cozy crowd over there," David said, nodding at the table.

"Uh huh. They're happy." Jerrod didn't look up from his reading.

David paused and then sat down across from him and said softly, "Okay, they're happy. Why am I getting the distinct impression that Jerrod isn't happy?"

Jerrod stopped reading but didn't look up. "Why would you think I'm not happy?"

"Oh, maybe your choice of pronouns. Maybe the fact that you didn't look up from your book. Maybe the fact that your expression isn't full of the kind of pleasure that should be there after a great event on Friday, after a cool weekend with your friends, after being on TV the other night and being back at classes."

Jerrod paused, then slowly said, "But how can you call it a great event when we didn't raise enough money? When we got blown off by the hospital? When we still don't know for sure what's going to happen. When everything we did was for nothing?"

"Whoa! Whoa, cowboy. Don't you think that a pretty extreme series of statements?"

"No. I mean we're basically dead in the water. The hospital took what they wanted, I mean the PR part, and blew off the rest. We don't know if Behlen will really come through or if it'll matter. Why did we do all this work? I mean it was a failure, don't you think?"

David paused and responded quietly. "Jerrod, look at me." He waited till Jerrod looked up at him.

"You and your friends did a wonderful thing. Once again you demonstrated great leadership abilities. Yes, there are still some open items and unanswered questions. But that's not what's eating at you, is it? Are you feeling like you were a failure?"

"Well, I mean it was a team effort, and I seem to be getting too much credit 'cause it was Matt's idea."

"Okay, so let me try a different approach. Matt had an idea, and you ran with it. It didn't end up the way you wanted, when you wanted or how you wanted it? Something like that?"

"Well, the fundraiser did, but the hospital part, that's a total train wreck."

"May I remind you of the eternal wisdom shared by The Rolling Stones?"


"You can't always get what you want?"

"Really, David! I know that."

"Then why so down? Are you having a sudden lack of confidence?"

Jerrod looked down at his book and was quiet, then said, "Yeah, I guess I am."

"Hey, that happens to the best of us. So let me say this to you. It ain't over yet at the hospital, and I'm betting before it's over you'll pretty much get what you want. Meaning a new pavilion. It won't be the one you had in mind, or happen the way you thought it would. But that's not the point. The point is that you saw the problem, went to work on a solution, put together a team and saw it through to the end. What part of that sounds like failure to you?"

"Well, when you put it that way…"

"Can we now talk about what's really eating at you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, whatever it is, it's bigger than what we've been talking about."

Jerrod looked up at his uncle. A slow smile started to appear on his face. "I can't hide anything for long, can I?"

"No, you're not much good at that anymore. You were much better at it when you arrived here two summers ago, but no longer." David smiled at him and went on, "That's actually a compliment, though. You know who you are, you're caring and transparent, so hiding your feelings isn't something that's natural to you anymore."

"I've got to make a decision about my major course of study. I don't know what to do?"


"Meaning that for years all I've dealt with is my parent's wanting me to go to medical school or law school?'

"Yes, but that was then, and this is now. That was the old Jerrod and your parents then. This is the new Jerrod, and your parents now have a different attitude."

"Sean's mom and I were talking the other day about Roger studying psychology and she said she thought he'd be great and that he's a natural. She's a pretty good psychologist, just like you are."

"Thanks for putting me in such esteemed company. She has to live her psychology every day, mine is far more theoretical. However, she's right, Roger has all the makings to be a good psychologist." He paused. "And you?"

"She asked me the same question and I couldn't answer it. I told her about what my parents wanted and the pressure and said I didn't know."

"Really? You have a pretty sharp analytical mind and these days you're usually pretty definitive about things."

"I know, but… I guess she caught me off guard. She asked me what I like to do, what I get the most satisfaction from and where my passion is?"

"Those are pretty core questions when it comes down to what to do in life, for vocational and career choices."

"I know, but then she said something I didn't understand. That Roger and me would answer those questions kind of differently, but there'd be one thing in common for all of our answers and that is the patients."

"You'll have to help me understand why you didn't understand that in as much as you interact with patients every single week of your life and seem to thrive on it."

"Well, I know that. That part makes sense, but still, I didn't get what she was saying."

"Can I be presumptive and put a thesis on the table in front of you?"

Jerrod's eyebrows went up and a soft smile followed. "Of course. You mean like you used to about thesis, antithesis and synthesis?"

"Yeah, kind of like that, though I don't think this is so complicated that it requires the antithesis. I think you can pretty quickly move from thesis to synthesis."

Jerrod's eyebrow went up even higher, but he said nothing.

"Do you think it's possible for a person to struggle with, or even deny, a thing simply because it was suggested or demanded of them by another party?"

"Well, theoretically, I mean sure. That would be like some kind of deep, I don't know, defensive or reactive response, wouldn't it?"

"It would be."

"Go on."

"Jerrod, you go on. Think about it. What might be the things about which you could, in theory, be defensive about or reactive to? Meaning subjects of study leading or certain career paths?"

Jerrod looked down at his book, but the words blurred on the page. He looked back up at David and softly said, "You mean like medicine or law?"

"That's precisely what I mean."

"That's why it's so hard, right? Because it's what they wanted me to do for so long? Because there was so much pressure, and I fought it for so long."

"Could be. In fact, I'd go so far as to say probably is. But you know what, this is you now making these decisions based on who and where you are today. Your parents have both told you it's purely your decision."

"I know that, but…"

"But it's hard to let go of the feeling of all that old pressure, isn't it? The resentment you had for so long. Trust me on something, will you?"

Jerrod looked him in the eyes and nodded.

"That old pressure is gone. Poof! It's vaporized. What you're dealing with is just residual memory. What you can't do to yourself is deny yourself a course of study and a career just because once upon a time your parents were shoving it down your throat. They're not doing that anymore. They love you and want you to make the best decision for you and your life. They acknowledge you and that you are your own person."

"I know. I guess I'm not as together as I thought I was."

"Hey, getting rid of old emotional pain isn't easy. It took me a long time. In fact, it took me falling in love with a seventeen-year-old boy to ring my bell hard enough to make me get real about it. Did I ever tell you about that?" A wide and knowing smile spread across David's face.

"Yes, Uncle David, you have, and I heard you. I get it. I guess I've got to do some deep digging and get over this one too."

"You do need to get over this one. It may not take as much deep digging as you seem to think. You could start by pouring all the salt in this shaker into your hand, walking out the back door and throwing it away into the back yard while you say, 'Poof! The bad residual memory feelings are gone."

Jerrod giggled, then said, "Do I need to get a cape and a wand too?"

"No, that's not necessary. However, sometimes something as simply as a physical act like that helps immensely to make a break with the past event. Can I make a suggestion?"

Jerrod smiled and wiggled his eyebrows in assent.

"You've got one of the best boyfriends in the world. Sean's mom thinks he's a natural psychologist and so do I. Be sure you talk to him about every bit of this. He's as patient-focused as you are, but he comes at it with his abilities while you come at it with yours. He's there for you every step of the way and not only wants you to make the best decisions for yourself, but I think you'll find he can help you in ways most of us can't."

Two weeks later Jackson had set up another meeting with the Director of Administration. The idea wasn't well received, and Jackson had to remind him that money had been raised for the hospital, that there was still a lot of public awareness thanks to the news coverage, and that it would be to his and the hospital's benefits to accept the meeting.

A time was agreed upon, and ten minutes before the meeting time, Jackson called him from the lobby of the hospital and asked if he'd be kind enough to meet in the lobby. The lobby had a play area for children, rows of photos of patients and caregivers, and multiple murals showing patients and nurses and doctors all in fantasy settings of castles and beautiful landscapes.

Jackson, Jerrod, Roger and Matt were all standing in front of one of those murals when the Director approached them. Jackson turned to him and said, "Hello, thanks for meeting us down here. It's so uplifting to see imagery like this that elevates the dynamic between patients and caregivers. We were just discussing these murals and the curious fact that none of them include therapy dogs."

The Director swept his eyes over the murals, caught off guard, but before he could say anything, Jackson went on. "You've met Jerrod and Roger, who are therapy dog handlers here, but allow me to introduce another of their friends who was part of the fundraising event." He introduced Matt and went on to point out that Matt's little brother had also been a patient and was one of the two in the news story on TV.

The Director expressed his pleasure in meeting Matt, and then turned back to Jackson. "Well, as you requested, I am here, meeting you in the lobby. What is it we are meeting about?"

Jackson smiled and replied, "If you'll indulge me, there's one more person with us that I'd like you to meet." He steered the Director twenty feet further down the lobby to a large section of wall that was covered with plaques containing the names of major donors to various hospital projects.

As they got closer it was apparent that a middle-aged woman was standing in front of, and reading, the plaques. As the entourage of Jackson, Jerrod, Roger, Matt and the Director got close, she turned to face them.

Jackson said to the Director, "It's my pleasure to introduce you to Susanna Koenig." She and the Director exchanged greetings, and then he said, "Your name sounds familiar. My apologies, though, that I'm not remembering why."

Susanna smiled at him and said, "My maiden name is Behlen."

The Director replied, "That name is definitely familiar."

Susanna's smile widened and she said, "It should be for a number of reasons, not the least because of these." She pointed to two of the plaques on the wall before them. One said Behlen Construction and the second said Behlen Family Foundation.

She pointed at the Family Foundation plaque and added, "That contribution was for the last major expansion. I think it was a neuro specialty wing, was it not?"

It was quite clear that Susanna had no problem taking charge of a conversation, even if her demeanor was soft. It was an iron hand in a silk glove. She didn't wait for him to answer her question.

"My father founded Behlen Construction, and I am the President of the Behlen Family Foundation. We provide financial support to most of the major health care systems in Portland, and Behlen Construction does construction for some of them as well. We think this kind of financial support is an important part of our civic duty. Now, tell me how hospital administration, and especially your Board of Directors, has responded to the news about the overwhelming response from patients and parents concerning this misunderstanding over the pavilion for therapy dogs, as evidenced by the petitions you have been provided and the successful fundraising effort that took place a few weeks ago."

The Director suddenly looked like he had an acute stomach cramp. He slowly began to answer Susanna's question much the way he had told Jackson, Jerrod and Roger three weeks before that it was just too late.

Susanna cut him off. "First off, let me tell you that I'm not new to this game. Second, I grew up as part of a construction company, and I know full well that it's never too late—especially when the funding is in place. Third, we've coordinated with your general contractor with whom we regularly work on large projects, and we have a complete set of design plans, project plans and engineering specifications that they have been tentatively approved."

She stopped and motioned to Matt who came over next to her holding a large roll of engineering plans and specifications. "Matt works for Behlen Construction and has been our liaison on this matter, and he brought these for your facilities people to review." She stopped and Matt handed over the roll of plans.

"Fourth," she continued, "I have a very strong suspicion that you and related administration personnel have kept this matter within the walls of the hospital, and not elevated it to the level of the hospital's Board of Directors. You won't be surprised to learn that I know many of them in as much as we serve on various foundations and boards together. So, to summarize, here is the situation. This very important element of the hospital's dog therapy program was overlooked in the project planning for the current expansion. Thanks to the effort of these young people, that oversight has been brought not only to your attention, but to the attention of the public at large. They even went so far as to organize an event to raise funds for it. Correcting that oversight is now virtually complete. There is substantial public support, especially among patients and their parents. You have in your hands design and project plans that have been reviewed by your general contractor. Additionally, I am here to inform you that the Behlen Family Foundation will provide all of the required funds beyond what was raised at the fundraising event."

She paused again, looking at him directly, then she went on. "It is now your task to explain to me why, give all of that, this addition to the project is not fast tracked immediately and thus I feel no need to take the matter up with the hospital's Board of Directors."

The Director's stomach cramp was not going away, but he smiled awkwardly and then said, "You make a very persuasive case, Mrs. Koenig. I propose that I will meet with the Vice President of Facilities first thing tomorrow morning, and then be in touch with you directly. Is that agreeable?"

"That sounds like a fine start." She smiled at him like a cat before the cream, and then added, "I will look forward to a favorable and positive conversation with you tomorrow." She turned to Jackson, Jerrod, Roger and Matt and said, "I think our meeting is over. Shall we go now?" She headed across the lobby, and they followed her, leaving the Director standing alone holding the roll of plans and wondering what had just torn into his professional life.

They said their goodbyes in the parking garage, and Susanna graciously received their thanks for being part of the meeting. "It was my pleasure. In my view this is a classic example of what happens when bureaucracy gets in the way of doing the right thing. Most bureaucrats are not very good at admitting, let alone correcting, their mistakes." She paused and smiled, and then added, "So it was my pleasure to assist with that little matter. At the end of it all, given the fact that it's all about the patients and the dogs, you can all be quite certain that our Director friend is not going to want to appear before the hospital's Board of Directors to explain why he didn't accept a straightforward solution that cost the hospital nothing."

On the drive home Matt said, "I never knew she could be so hard. That blew me away."

"There's a difference between being hard and being certain," Jackson replied. "She wasn't being hard in the sense of inflicting pain or humiliation, but she had no qualms about being tough and taking a definite stand for what she simply saw as the right thing to do. We tried all the ways we could, but she's got more leverage over him than all of us do together. She's given him and his people every opportunity to save face, and if he wants to keep his job, that's exactly what he'll do."

Matt called them the next night to let them know that he'd just received a call from Susanna saying that the hospital "after due deliberation" had accepted the offer from the foundation.

"That is so cool, Matt. You don't know how good that makes me feel," Jerrod responded.

"I kinda do 'cause I've seen you've been down in the dumps for the last couple of weeks. Roger told me you weren't happy with how the fundraiser worked out. The main thing is that now it has worked out. It took more than just us, but that's cool. We found out that are lots of people, from Jackson and Warren all the way up to my boss and Susanna who agreed the problem needed a solution and joined in to help."

"You're right. I've been kind of talking to Roger about what's going on with me and he keeps telling me to lighten up on myself, like I don't have to always be the knight in shining armor that rides to the rescue."

"He's right. I can say that from experience. Remember me a couple of years ago, the tough guy, know it all asshole? Well, I've let most of that shit go and changed for the better for a lot of reasons, and you and Roger, as well as David and Jackson, are part of them."

"You have, you know. You're one of the best guys I know."

"Well, I'm in good company. I heard something in a war movie that Jessica and I watched a couple of weeks ago that I want to say to you. Two soldiers were talking about a third one, and one of them was dissing on the third guy and the other was supporting him. Finally, the second guy realized he probably wasn't going to convince the first guy, but what he said next was pretty amazing. Remember, it was a war movie, and the second guy said, "I'd have that guy in a foxhole with me in a New York minute."

Jerrod was quiet, and then said, "I guess I get it."

"Man, the dude was saying if he had to pick anyone to be with him in a foxhole under fire, it would be the guy they were talking about. Because he had his shit together. Didn't mean he was perfect, but he had his shit together. That's you. I'd have you in my foxhole in a New York minute too."

"Thanks, I guess! Has it really been that obvious I've been down in the dumps?"

"Yeah. Like somehow you thought the problem would all be solved after we had the event on Friday night. Remember what you said Roger told you about the knight in shining armor?" Matt laughed softly, then went on, "Give it up, Jerrod. We all need each other."

"I know. I guess I was just being immature or selfish."

"Maybe. I think there's another part in there that I'm betting Roger has been trying to talk to you about. Namely that you have to keep proving something to yourself."

"I'm beginning to figure that out. I thought I had it under control."

"I used to think that, too, but guess what? I didn't. Remember that my girlfriend's a coach? She keeps helping me see that I can't do it alone. That we need other people. That we're better together. That knowing the most about something or being the best at something isn't the same as being in charge."

"You're a lucky man."

"Yeah, we're all lucky we've got each other. You're especially lucky because you've got Roger. You've also got David and Jackson. Well, I mean, in a way we all have David and Jackson, but you know what I'm talking about, right?"

"Yeah, I do. I'm figuring out that I've thought I had to be in charge of a lot of things and have to start letting go."

"That sounds like a good plan. Been there, done that." Matt chuckled and then added, "Jerrod, you've got a lot of close friends that love you a lot and will help however they can. Remember that, okay?"

After he told David and Jackson about the Director's call and the the hospital accepting the family foundation's proposal, he called Roger to fill him in. It was a short discussion, mainly centering on the irony of the turn of phrase 'after due deliberation.'

"What a crock of shit, don't you think? I mean, Susanna backed him into a corner it seems to me."

"Yeah, Jerrod, she did. She was very pleasant about it, and his response is a crock of shit. Like Jackson said, pure politics." He paused, and then asked, "So how are you feeling about everything now?"

"Well, better. I mean you're right that the way I pictured it all didn't happen, but it did come out as a win and maybe it'll be even better in the long run."

Roger said softly, "Probably so."

"You're talking about the pavilion project, right?"

"That's one of the things I was asking about. The other is how you're feeling about yourself?"

"Matt and I had a heart-to-heart talk after he told me about the hospital's decision. He told me I've got to give it up and let go, that we all need each other and we're better together, and that even knowing the most about something, or being the best at something doesn't mean you get to be in charge."

Roger giggled. "That's sounds like a certain person I know who's coaching Sean."

"Yeah, it is. And it's all true, isn't it?"

"Yep. How do you see that relating to you?"

"Well, there's the obvious stuff about letting go and consensus building, giving people their space and stuff. But that's not what you're really asking, is it?"

"No, I'm asking about my boyfriend and what he's having to deal with right now about choosing a major."

"I know you are, and I love you for sticking with me on it, and not letting me off the hook, and that you don't put any heavy pressure on me like my parents did."

Roger was silent and Jerrod said, "Are you still there?"

"Yes, liebling, I'm still here. Do you realize what you just said?"

"What do you mean?"

"You just said 'like my parents did.' You used the past tense."

"Well, yeah, because now they're saying it's up to me. That I get to choose what I want to do and there's no pressure."

"So, it seems like you've now accepted that. Can I ask you another question?"

"Of course, you've always been able to ask me anything."

"Can my liebling apply the same past tense to himself?"

Jerrod was quiet, the implications hitting him. Finally, he said, "Did I tell you what David suggested about the saltshaker?"

"No, sounds tasty!"

"He said empty the salt in my hand, walk out back, throw the salt away and say 'Poof! All the negative residual memories and pressures are gone.' You know, like breaking some kind of spell."

"Did you do it?'

"No. It seemed kind of silly."

"Maybe you did it in your mind. Maybe you didn't have to actually walk out the back door with the salt… 'cause you knew the dogs would be licking it up or it'd kill the plants or whatever. Did you do it mentally?"

"I think I did, selle, or maybe I've just been thinking about it, about doing it, and I just needed you to talk to me about it, about how to get it done."

"So, are you telling me it just moved into the past tense for you?"

Jerrod struggled to answer, and finally said, "Why's this so hard?" He felt the emotion welling up. "Like you're saying it's just a change of tense."

"On the surface, liebling, but deep down it's something different. It's an emotion and a resentment that you've held onto for a long time.

Jerrod swallowed back the tears and said, "I guess so. I mean, I felt I had to be in charge, in control. You know, fighting and resisting what my parents wanted for me. Now I'm seeing that I've got to let go of it, because one of the things they wanted for me was medical school, I've been cutting myself off from even considering it because I'm so tied up in resisting what they wanted."

"Well, as a really good psychologist that we both know would tell us, if you can say it then you own it. It's really important, liebling, because what you told me that Sean's mom said to you about the patients being central for both of us is true. You're clinical and analytic and have done really well in all your science classes, so your approach is different. The way you'll work with patients is different than me. But if you don't at least give yourself the chance to go after it, you'll hate yourself later."

"I know. I love you so much, I wish you were here so I could spoon up behind you and hold you tight and put my nose in your hair."

"It's a school night. Maybe you can get Chloe to come up on the bed with you."

"She smells good, but nothing like you do."

"I know, I'm just kidding. I wish I was there to so I could hold you back. And then after you're all relaxed and feeling better, and after you've told me three more times that you've let the resentment go and that you're going to go pre-med, then I'd take all your clothes off, lick you all over and then take your cock in my mouth and see if I can blow the top off your skull."

"You are bad, Roger Astren! Bad, but I love you. Okay, enough for tonight. You've given me a lot to think about. I've got to do some serious work on tenses and letting go of resentment."

Roger blew him a kiss and then said, "Sounds like a plan to me. If you're not all better in the morning, call me and I can come by after class or something!"

The next evening Jerrod called Roger and said, "He bought the house in Lake Oswego. JC's moving down here. In the next few weeks!"

"That is so cool," Roger replied. "Has he sold his house yet?"

"No, but he's already got two offers, so it won't be long. All this house stuff is making me think how cool it would be to have our own apartment next year. Then we'd be together every night."

"Yeah, that would be very cool. And don't get me wrong, I'd love that, but we'd also see less of these kind of important adults in our lives. Oh, and there's the dogs! I'm guessing it wouldn't be easy for two minors to find an apartment between Lewis and Clark and PSU that will take two dogs."

"You're probably right about that. We've got it pretty good, don't we?"

"Better than most gay couples our age. Can I ask how you're feeling after we talked last night?"

"Oh yeah! I'm great. I had a heart to heart this morning with Kaiser. You know, he's the older and wiser dog and I told him my problem and what you and David suggested."


"And he also reminded me that when he came up on the bed with me that first time after we found him… it was to let me know I was okay. And he told me to just get over it and move on."

"I can see him do that. I totally can."

"Like I said, he's a wise old dog."

"Not that old. He's only seven or so, right?"

"Yeah, but I was using a figure of speech. You know, literature and grammar, like you were talking to me last night about tenses! Anyway, you guys were all right and I decided I just need to let go of the resentment and control stuff. I told David and now I'm telling you, and I need all of you guys to hold me to it."

"I'm sure that can be arranged, liebling."

"Can we start arranging it this weekend when I'm sleeping in your bed?"

"That can be arranged as well."

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