Puppy for Sale

by James Matthews

Chapter 13


Standing at the edge of the lake I stared out into the distance looking at nothing of any particular interest. Two swans were making their way towards me and I was starting to get nervous. I used to love swans, but that all changed last year, when in breeding season, a female went for me. I wouldn't have minded, but I was nowhere near her. Since then I have been uneasy whenever they swim too close to me.

As I started to slowly move backwards, I felt pressure on my eyes and it seemed to go dark.

"Guess who?" Cindy said, covering my eyes with her hands from behind.

"Hey Cindy." I said, a smile forming on my face.

"Don't hey me, how could you?" She whined.


"Why didn't you come and knock for me, I've been looking everywhere for you. You've just had like the most important day of your life and you waltz on down here without me?"

"Oh, I'm sorry Cindy, I had an appointment with Doctor Listern I forgot about, and then... well, I just needed some air, that's all." I replied, slowly working out that Cindy wasn't really mad with me at all. In fact she was now beaming a huge grin.

"Tell me EVERYTHING!" she ordered, jumping up and down clapping her hands.

"Ha-ha, hey, calm down, you're making me dizzy."

"What was he like? Did he hug you? Is he sweet? Do you think you'll like him?"

"Cindy, Cindy, please!" I cried, feeling like I was on a twenty questions game show. "I came down here to get my head together and you are not helping."

"Saaawy! I'm just excited for you that's all."

"Just sit on that rock and be quiet and I will tell you what happened."

Cindy, still excited, did as she was told and sat down on a large rock that sat on the edge of the lake. She moved to one side, allowing me to sit next to her. Picking a blade of grass between my fingers I began to twirl it, gathering my thoughts.

"Yes, he was nice, yes I hugged him and yeah, he is pretty cool."

"Is that it?"

"Well, that's all you asked," I said giggling. Cindy gave me a not impressed look which meant I had to continue unaided by more of her questions. "I found quite a lot out, but I'm guessing there is a lot more."

"Like what?" she quizzed.

I went on to tell Cindy everything that happened in my meeting with Max. As fast as she tried to keep up with the different bits of information I was giving her, the faster I had to try and keep up with her different facial expressions... smiles, to frowns, to laughter, to sadness. It seemed, according to her face my meeting must have had it all. Like me though she seemed really nervous about one thing, and that was the subject of Steven. It felt like that subject was the only one Max was trying to sugar coat and I wondered if me going to live with my father would be compatible with someone like Steven.

"I guess you'll find out who he is at the weekend hey." Cindy said.

"I just don't know what to think Cindy. Do you think I should go quite so soon?"

Cindy stroked her chin and looked out across the lake. "I just don't see how someone can dislike a person having never met them. Maybe you are looking into this too much. You never know, he might be just as nervous as you are about all this."

"Yeah, I suppose."

Cindy put her arm round my waist and pulled me closer. I rested my head on her shoulder and we both sat in silence for a while watching to the swans drift effortlessly away from us in the distance.

Sam Stillworth, the man responsible for parent vetting and all things child welfare came to see me in the eating area, just as I was about to sit down with Cindy. It had been a while since I had seen him and I wondered why he would suddenly gate crash my evening meal unless it was important.

"Evening Puppy, may I have a word with you in private?"

"S-sure," I replied, locking my eyes on his face frowning. "What is it?"

"In private please?" He repeated. I got up from my chair and eyed a worried looking Cindy staring at me. "It's ok Cindy, Puppy is not in any trouble, don't worry." Sam said.

I don't know who was more relieved.

I followed Sam out into the corridor which he decided was quiet enough and he began to speak. "Puppy, I need to ask you a question and I need you to tell me the hundred per cent truth in your answer, understand?"

"Yes, Sam, what is it, what's wrong?"

Sam sighed. "I had your father passed through to me today regarding Cindy."

"Cindy? What was he calling to speak to you about her for?"

"Puppy did you encourage Cindy to call your father regarding her going with you to stay with him? You do know you have no busin_"

"Sam, what are you talking about, I swear I did no such thing, what is this about?" I cut in.

"Come to my office. I will make sure you get a fresh meal saved. I think we need to have a talk."

"Sure, but I really don't understand what-"

"Not here Puppy," Sam hissed. As we started to walk away from the eating area, I looked over my shoulder through the glass door, seeing Cindy is sitting there motionless, not eating.

What the hell was this all about?

I was scared now... Sam said I wasn't in trouble to Cindy but he had a funny way of showing it. It felt like the trip to his office was like being on my way to a courtroom. Sam unlocked the door and went in promptly taking a seat at his desk before gesturing me to sit down.

"Puppy, a child in our care has made a phone call to a person outside of this home without the permission of myself or Mr Watson. Whether that man is your father means nothing, this is still a serious breach of rules."

"Sam, you are making it sound like I am involved with this, I swear to you again, I don't know anything about this, or why Cindy has called my father."

"So you are saying to me, here and now, that you never encouraged Cindy to call your father and that you and her have not spoken on this subject?"

"How many more times, NO!" I yelled, kicking the leg of his desk in anger.

"Ok, Puppy, that's enough!"

"Well, you shouldn't accuse me of something. How do you expect me to react?"

"I am trying to establish the facts of what went on, and I don't think you are aware of how serious this is."

"No, you are putting me under stress and that is not allowed, you are starting to make me feel unwell here... in fact, I am not talking about this anymore." I said getting up from my chair. Sam had lit the fuse to my temper and I knew that was not good. I tried to calm down... tried to walk away, but he had other ideas.

Big mistake!

"Puppy, you will sit in that chair until I have finished with you. You will not use your condition as an excuse for disrespect."

I was shaking with rage now, it had come on fast and furious. I didn't like being backed into a corner and Sam knew it played havoc with my bipolar, why was he doing this?"

"I think I need to leave this room now, Sam," I stated, as calmly as I could. I could feel the adrenaline bubbling up like a pressure cooker... I knew one more wrong word from him and I was going to lose control. He just needed to let me leave, that's all I wanted. We could continue this another time, when things were calmer in my head. I just had to go, had to leave, be out, be gone, be alone.

"You are starting to make me think you have something to hide, Puppy."

"I HAVE ALREADY FUCKING TOLD YOU I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING," I screamed, my face turning bright red then filling with purple heat. In a fit of pure unadulterated rage I picked up the chair I had been sitting on and aimed it straight for Sam's head. He ducked, giving it clear passage to shatter the window behind.

I wished I could have stopped there, but I couldn't, he had pushed and pushed. I wanted to get rid of this anger. Sam jumped up and quickly sounded his alarm on the wall. "You need to calm down Puppy, you are not helping yourself here," he whined, pathetically.

"You pushed me!" I bellowed, as I used my arm to clothes line the contents of his desk, sending ornaments, paper and other stationary flying across the room. I wanted him to tackle me to the floor, to stop me, but he didn't. He just stood there, his mouth open like some pathetic idiot.

I stopped dead and looked at him, my cheeks flushed, my eyes bulging. Lifting my finger up, I pointed at his face with conviction.

"You... you... you did this!" Was all I could think of before picking up a waste paper bin and sending it flying towards the wall. It hit a large photo frame containing a picture of Greenstone, shattering its glass panel and sending the picture crashing to the floor.

Breathing heavily, I ruffled my hair in frustration and left the room. My fists were still clenched and my mouth shut tight with the obvious stress I was feeling, but...

I was done!

As I walked down the corridor towards the stairs, I heard hurried footsteps getting closer. Moments later, three members of staff appeared in the corridor from the stairwell, led by Charlotte. I quickened my pace towards them in an act of futile defiance, but I knew what was coming.

"Jensen Stibbings, stop where you are!" Charlotte commanded, but I was in no mood to listen. I marched towards the three ladies with determination until, as expected I was grabbed by two of them.

"Get off me, get the hell off of me," I screamed, as the three of them pushed me to the floor. During my struggle to get free I felt a scratch on my arm before starting to feel limp and lucid. Voices became distant and the walls and ceiling of the corridor started to take on a jelly like appearance.

"Have you just drugged..."

Everything was dark when I became aware I was conscious. My eyes were still shut and I could hear voices to the left of me talking softly. As I became more aware I was awake, I opened my eyes, seeing a plain white ceiling and nothing else. Still dazed, I slowly twisted my head towards the voices and could see Doctor Listern having a conversation with Mr Watson and Charlotte.

Staring at them, trying to figure out what they were saying I pulled my hand up and wiped away the drool that had obviously escaped my mouth while unconscious. The movement of my body moving must have made a noise as all three of them stopped talking and looked over at me.

I fixed my eyes on Charlotte and narrowed them. "You had no right to drug me, you wait until my father hears about this," I said groggily. Charlotte ignored my protest and turned back to Mr Watson. Doctor Listern came over to me and put his hand on my forehead.

"Want to tell me what happened?" he asked, calmly.

"I got angry, I couldn't stop it. He made me angry."

"Sam Stillworth?"

"Yeah, he was accusing me of something I didn't do... I didn't do anything Doctor Listern, I swear I didn't do anything. I asked to leave the room because I knew I was becoming unbalanced and he kept talking at me. I don't really remember the rest."

"Alright Puppy, I understand, you just lie there and rest while we sort this mess out."

I slowly nodded and watched Listern walk back to Mr Watson and Charlotte. Moments later, Mr Watson was the one coming over to me.

"Puppy, can you sit up?"

"I think so," I replied, using my hands as leverage to pull myself to a seated position.

"Puppy, this is not good is it? You have caused a lot of damage in Mr Stillworth's room, not to mention make one of my staff fear for his safety."

"Fear for his... is that what he's told you? Mr Watson, Sam was making accusations... he caused this."

"Right now Puppy there are two things I am interested in. How this happened and the incident with Cindy calling your father. What one would you like to start with?"

"Well, if Sam had listened to me then everyone would know I don't know anything about the thing with Cindy calling my dad... and this all happened because Sam would not let it drop and was goading me. He's a bad man for doing that, he knows I don't like confrontation."

"So after he asked you about Cindy you thought it appropriate to trash his office?"

"He didn't ask, he practically accused me of setting it up. Has anyone actually spoken to Cindy about this?"

"Yes, we have Puppy, but she says she will not talk until she sees you first. Since we can't make her talk, then I am no closer to the bottom of this."

"Well, I can't speak for her because I don't know why and where she got my father's number from. Like I said to Sam, up until he came and found me in the eating area I didn't even know any of this had taken place."

"I would like to get-"

"Wait a minute," I said, cutting Watson off. "The number!"

"The number?"

"Yeah... yeah the phone number... I left it on Charlotte's desk after I called my father. That's where Cindy may have got it from. But don't be too hard on her; she probably didn't know how serious it was to do what she did."

"How hard I am Puppy, is down to me, but I will take your plea into consideration when I speak to Cindy. Before that though I want to make clear the damage you did to one of Greenstone's offices is totally unacceptable regardless of your condition Puppy. I will be making a note in your file about this incident."

"I understand, and I apologise."

"It's not enough this time Puppy, I cannot let this one slide, and consequently there will be a punishment handed down to you."

"Which is?"

"Confinement to your room apart from meal times for one week. Your television privileges in your room will also be restricted for a further two weeks. I had also thought of restricting your contact with Cindy for the duration of your punishment, but I have decided upon reflection, considering the bond you both have, that this would be a step too far."


"However, I am restricting contact after the hours of five p.m."

"And my father?"

"If you are asking me whether this affects your planned visit to your father, no it does not... Greenstone has never, and will never, interfere with visitation from new and potential parents regardless of child discipline. However, Puppy, this does not give you the right to run amok in my home, Puppy. I must be clear on this - any further outbursts from you will result in more serious disciplinary action. Do I make myself clear?"

I swallowed hard and nodded at Mr Watson. "I'm sorry, I just got angry."

Mr Watson scratched the side of his head. "Yes, I need to speak to Doctor Listern about that. I'm still not sure your current plan is working, Puppy."

With that comment, he walked away and I sunk back down the headboard into a more lying position and puffed air through my closed lips. My mind quickly turned to what Cindy was up to and why she would do such a risky thing, knowing that she would almost certainly be found out.

"Eighteen counts of violent behaviour, seven counts of destructive behaviour, five counts of violent conduct to a member of Greenstone staff, eleven counts of damage to Greenstone property, twenty six counts of excessive bad language in front of another child or staff member, two counts of attempted self-harm and eleven thousand pounds paid out by Greenstone to make repairs or replace broken items. Your conduct file makes dismal reading Puppy, how does it feel to have that read out to you?" Charlotte asked.

"It makes me feel like asking you what the purpose is in all of this," I replied.

Charlotte had requested I come to her office for a one to one. It was to discuss recent events and how to improve things going forward. Normally I would have one of these meetings every month, but she felt an ad-hoc one was needed in light of what had happened today.

"Puppy this list I have just read out represents the last ten years of your conduct in this home. It is a snapshot of your personality. I want to know how it makes you feel when you see a file like this that is about you."

"Ok, I get it, point taken, I'm a nasty good for nothing kid who has no future because I can't control my emotions sometimes, well forgive me Charlotte but it's not my fucking fault the staff here don't know how to deal with me. I have bipolar, you know it, I know it... Fucking Sam Stillworth knows it, and yet you and your ill equipped, uneducated team of morons don't have a clue how to handle it. The only person who remotely understands me is Doctor Listern... and maybe Mr Watson."

"Have you finished?" Charlotte asked, glaring at me. I just folded my arms and looked away from her, shaking my head. "This home and its staff have done a massive amount of work with you over the years, Puppy, and you might want to remember that. I have spent hours with you discussing ways that my staff and I can better help you with your condition and things have been put in place."

"You don't like me very much, do you Charlotte?"

"I find you frustrating Puppy, however, my personal feelings towards you do not come into it."

"But please tell me, at least just before I leave this place, why you treat me so different from the other children?"

"Every child here is treated the same, Puppy, regardless of age, sex or personality."

"Do you have to read those lines from a book as part of your training?"

"Puppy, why do you have to keep working against me?"

I laughed sarcastically. "I don't like you, I never have. You are a cold, bitter person void of any emotion and I think you need to remember that! Anyway, in case you didn't hear Mr Watson, I should be in my room right now as part of my punishment, and since this is not meal time I shouldn't in here either."

"Hmm, it seems since you have found out you have a father that might be willing to extract you from this home your ability to rebel has increased to a new level, Puppy. You might currently be for sale, but I could quite see that changing once your father hears about your recent outburst."

"And your threats stink of desperation Charlotte. My father isn't going anywhere, and if you need to resort to that sort of unprofessional behaviour then perhaps I will make sure Mr Watson hears about YOUR recent outburst."

I had nothing more to say and with that, I left the room.


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