Puppy for Sale

by James Matthews

Chapter 15

I Live

Sitting with my arms folded in bed, I watched the cleaning lady come round with her mop and bucket, quickly filling the room with a bleach like smell. To my right was a window looking out over what appeared to be a large parking lot. A few trees scattered the area and I could see a canal off into the distance.

To my left was a young boy probably around my age with a breathing mask on. He was sleeping and my mind floated through different ideas as to why he might be here. I knew one thing was for sure though... unlike mine, his reasons were probably not of his own doing.

Just as the cleaning lady exited through the double doors to my ward, a familiar face came in that I had recognised when I first woke up. It was my doctor, and the man who had first spoken to me. I wondered where the people from Greenstone were. There appeared to be no Mr Watson, no Doctor Listern... where were all of those people?

My neck was currently very sore along with my throat, but I managed to keep my eyes locked on the doctor as he picked up a chart belonging to the boy next to me. He began to record some information before slotting it back in its holder at the end of the bed and sliding his pen back into his white coat.

"Ah, good morning Jensen, and how are we this morning?"

"Sore," I replied in a husky voice.

Pulling out a small torch the doctor bent down and looked closely at my neck.

"Hmm, colour is changing to a nice purple," he muttered, more to himself. "Well, Jensen, aside from a lovely bruise there I think you will make a full recovery. Although I agree, it will be sore for a while."

"Doctor, where is everyone... I mean the people from my home?"

"Oh, well, someone will be round to have a talk with you Jensen, I don't know the details, but it appears your father has prohibited any visitors at the current time and we are obliged to respect his wishes."

"My father?" I repeated, screwing my face up with surprise. The doctor just smiled, I guess not really thinking he could give an answer to that.

Most of the day I drifted in and out of sleep. The times when I have been awake, I just lay there confused. No one had said anything to me and apart from the odd nurse coming into the room I had not actually seen anyone. I wanted to find out what was going on but every time I asked someone where my carers were, I was given a blank look.

Letting my head slowly drop sideways, trying to avoid any sharp pain, I just stared out of the window again. I could see the low sun in the distance telling me it must have been getting on for late afternoon. My mind wandered aimlessly, every now and again being disturbed by the fact I wanted to go the toilet. I wasn't sure when the last time I went, but just as I thought about doing something about that the double doors opened to the room and a voice I knew sounded out.

"Jensen! Thank god, you're awake," it said. I slowly moved my head back towards the sound and saw a very worried looking Max staring at me from just inside the doorway.

"MAX!" I cried, probably waking the poor guy up in the next bed. "I'm... I'm really sorry," I said, starting to well up in a surge of emotion.

Max rushed over to my bed and threw his arms around me. His face was cold as it touched mine, probably from being outside, but I didn't care I just fell into a sense of contentment hugging him. Eventually he broke our embrace and pulled up a chair, sitting real close to my bed. The love I had first saw in his eyes and face was now turning to a look of seriousness and I knew questions were to follow that.

"Jensen, I..." he started, but obviously wasn't sure how to continue. "Jensen, why? Why did you do such a silly thing?"

I lightly shrugged. "I couldn't see a way out," was all I could think of to sum up how I had felt.

"A way out?"

I sighed. "I just hit rock bottom and I know this is gonna sound stupid, but I thought if I wasn't here anymore the pain would go away."

"You're in pain?" Max asked, not getting me it seemed.

"Not that kind of pain Max, it was a kind of lost hope pain. Basically, I didn't want to feel the way I was feeling anymore. I was desperate... so desperate for an outlet."

"But Jensen, I mean, we have just connected, wouldn't that count for something?"

"You don't understand Max, the way I was feeling wasn't something that could be cured by anything. My dream has come true in you finding me, sure, but the way I felt right at that moment, all the dreams I have ever had could have all come true at once and it still wouldn't have taken away the despair I felt."

Max nodded. "I think I get it,"

"I guess I'm in big trouble, right?"

"Everything is sorted Jensen, you are not to blame in any of this. I have been at Greenstone for most of the day. I came by to see you earlier, but you were asleep so I thought I would go and-"

"Sorted?" I asked, wondering what that actually meant.

Max looked to gather his thoughts. "Let's just say that you will not be going back to Greenstone Jensen."

"What? I mean... you mean it? How did you..."

"Never mind that right now, the main thing is that you get better and out of here. We can talk about all of this when you have recovered."

"Max, really, I need to know some things. What... what about Cindy?"

"Cindy? Oh the girl your friends with. You know Jensen, you have a lot to thank her for, so I was told she was the one who found you and got help."

"Part of me wishes she hadn't," I said solemnly.

"Jensen, why would you say such a thing, you have so much to live for, especially now."

"I don't know, it's just the way I feel I guess, I know that sounds really bad Max."

"Look, I don't pretend to sit here and understand how you feel or why you would think it's bad enough to end your life, but I am going to prove to you that whatever happens from now on I will be here for you." Max ran his hands down his face. "You know, I blame myself for this."

"Why?" I asked.

"Well, according to your doctor at the home you had been making real progress and that all seemed to change when I contacted you."

"No, Max, it's not like that, not like that at all. It's just a lot has happened... a lot of stressful things and I haven't dealt with that very well."

"Mr Watson told me you were very cut up when he passed on the message I couldn't have you over to stay the weekend, I'm sorry I should have handled that better myself. I have a hunch that was part of your despair?"

I looked down, away from Max. "Maybe, but I don't want you thinking that's you're fault. It was a lot of things all at once."

A tear ran down Max's cheek. I wish I hadn't admitted that last statement. "At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing for everyone, but in hindsight I should have kept to my plan, I've only made it worse by not having you come over."

"Perhaps, though I gotta admit, I was looking forward to it, and I thought maybe you were having second thoughts about me."

"Oh God, no Jensen, that is so far from the truth. The choice I made, although hard, was totally with you in mind. Steven has been playing up and I didn't want to have you in an environment where it would feel like you were not wanted. I just needed more time to talk to Steven and I thought while that happened, it was better to postpone your visit."

"Is he really against me coming to stay?"

"It's complicated with him Jensen. He's been used to having his parents all to himself. As I said, maybe I haven't handled this very well with either of you. I was just really excited about finding you and those feelings probably got in the way of my judgement. I think when Steven found out you were coming to stay he felt like you were taking me away from him. But this is my fault because I should have had a proper discussion with him about it, which at the time I hadn't."

"I can kind of see why he would think that. I don't want to cause any trouble Max."

"Nonsense Jensen, you are not to blame here, nor are you any trouble at all."

I should have felt a little better hearing that, but I didn't. This was all such a mess and really wanted to press the rewind button on the last few days.

"Do you know when I can get out of here?"

Max smiled. "I would hope later today, the doctors gave you a scan when you first came in and there does not appear to be any damage done so it's just a case of seeing how you were when you woke up."

"Hmm, and where do I go when I do get out?"

Max looked at me wearing a baffled expression. "Sorry, what do you mean?"

"Well, you said I won't be going back to Greestone... where will I be going?"

"To stay with us, of course."

"But I thought you said Steven..."

"I would have liked more time to sort things out with him I'll admit Jensen, but I am not allowing you to go back to a home that has totally failed you, and as for Doctor Listern, that man has a lot to answer for in all of this."

"Doctor Listern?" I asked, not seeing how he was to blame.

"I have seen your medical files Jensen. I don't know what half of it means but I took copies and showed them to a doctor friend of mine, Doctor Paul Burrows, and he says Doctor Listern has you on pills that don't make sense for your condition. Also, he noted that your dosages were being adjusted too often which wasn't giving your body time to adjust."

"Is that why I have been feeling all over the place lately?"

"Maybe, I'm not an expert Jensen and I don't know the full details of what went on in the home."

"Why not, you saw my case records right?"

"No Jensen, I saw your medical records. Charlotte Grange was very keen for me to look over the case records, but I didn't want to, I wasn't interested."

"But why Max?"

"Because I want to get to know you and find out who you are at face value and not rely on a load of forms and records. Besides, it was quite funny seeing Charlotte's face when I refused to read them, for some reason she seemed pretty keen."

"Yeah, I can see why that would be."

"Don't worry Jensen, I am aware you have not been an angel, hell, who is? But I know the reasons why so it doesn't matter to me."

It was getting on for nine in the evening and Max had left about an hour ago. It turned out that I would be staying in overnight for monitoring as my neck was still pretty swollen and the doctors wanted to make sure this wasn't going to affect my breathing while I slept. I got the feeling Max didn't mind my extended stay as he made reference to the fact he wanted to have a proper discussion with his son. I was cool with that, in fact, I preferred that he did. The last thing I wanted to do was cause more hassle than it seemed I already had.

One thing that was bothering me now was how people would feel about me. What about his wife? I thought, wondering if she visioned some crazy nutcase who tried to commit suicide every now and again. I almost wanted to call her and explain.

There were still lots of questions I wanted to ask my father as well. It seemed every time I got near an opportunity, something would come up, such as having a belt removed from my neck. Having written them all down this time I knew that at least I wouldn't forget them when the next opportunity came.

Max had agreed to collect all my stuff from the home within the next few days. I asked if I could go with him to see Cindy. I felt like I owed her an explanation and an apology. In fact, I owed her my life and that wasn't something I would be able to pay back. I really wanted to see if there was any chance at all of her coming to live with me, but what with the Steven issue I couldn't see a chance of that happening anytime soon. It was going to be heart-breaking saying goodbye to her and it was a conversation I wasn't relishing.

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