Puppy for Sale

by James Matthews

Chapter 28

A Side of Steven

A doctor turned on what looked like a light inside a cupboard before clipping up a funny picture of my foot on the wall.

"Wow, I can see my bones," I said to Max, as I lay on the hospital bed.

"That's called an X-ray, Puppy, which is why the doctor and I had to leave the room for a moment."

We both turned our attention back to the photograph on the wall. "Jensen, you have grazed the bone here which would explain the intense pain you felt. I cannot see any splintering so it looks like the nail merely brushed it, thankfully."

"It's a really nice Picture Daddy, don't you think?" I asked, my head lolling around. Max just gave me a strange look.

"I will get the nurse to administer a tetanus shot shortly. There may be a very tiny scar on the sole of the foot, but other than that it looks like he will make a full recovery. The entrance wound luckily went through mostly soft tissue. It will be sore for a while but he'll be up and about on it in a few days."

"Thank you Doctor."

"Nail me nail you... ahaaa, there is nothing we can do, nail me nail you," I started singing, before smiling like an idiot.

Max looked at me wearing a concerned expression, I didn't know why, he kept doing it every time I spoke... silly man.

"Erm, Doctor, is Jensen ok?"

"Morphine, Mr Chase, it can have that effect on people, it's quite normal, and will wear off. Just go with it until it does," The doctor said before chuckling.

"Yeah Maxy, you just gotta roll with it, we're gonna be just fine," I declared, tapping him on the wrist.

A nurse came into the room with a wheelchair and stopped short of the bed. "Jensen, we are going to get you a tetanus injection done and then replace that dressing with a proper one ok?"

"Meh, I hate needles nurse, but for one day only, I think I can cope. Do you hate needles Nurse? I hate needles, always have. I'm happy to have one today though... well not happy, but I guess the needle is gonna make this not get infected. Max, do you like needl... hmm, I kinda feel sick."

Max rolled his eyes at the nurse, thinking I didn't see, but I did. He helped me off the bed and into the wheelchair and the nurse wheeled me out of the room.

Back at home I sat laid up on the sofa with my leg resting on a footstall Susan had kindly provided for me. Susan was her usual self of course thinking that I needed twenty four hour supervision and care. She appeared to think that offering me copious amounts of fruit was somehow going to cure me instantly. Not to mention the four cups of tea I had been pretty much forced fed.

Once again she burst into the lounge. "Jensen, honey, I need to pop out to the store, now Steven is upstairs if you need anything... oh, maybe I shouldn't go," she said, pacing the lounge.

"Susan, really, I'm fine, go to the store."

"I can't believe how irresponsible my son can be... fancy taking you into that godforsaken house in the first place, I'm so annoyed with him right now." She barked, pulling at her hair.

"Well, I was the one who trod on the nail, I don't think he can be blamed for that."

"Yes well, I still don't think you both should have been in that place, it looks like its about to fall down at any moment... I really should go to the store. Oh, I know... stay there a moment."

"I'm not about to run off anywhere," I muttered, sighing. Susan ran out of the lounge and returned with my phone in her hand.

"Here, keep this with you. If you need anything, call me!"

"Susan, you're going to the store at the end of the road yes?"

"Uh huh," she replied, adjusting her hair in the mirror that hung on the lounge wall.

"And how long do you think you'll be?"

"Well if I hurry, maybe ten minutes. Hmm, that's too long isn't it, I mean what if something happens and you can't move... oh my god what if there is a fire or something."

"Susan, I hope you don't mind me asking you this, but, is everything ok?"

She sighed and dropped her shoulder, slowly sitting down on the seat next to me. "Sorry, you must think I am one crazy woman... I just feel responsible for you Jensen. You've only been here a short while and I feel like I've failed already."

"Why would you think that?"

"Well look at you! You have been in Greenstone all this time with no reported injuries and a couple of weeks with Max and me and you have this happen. What kind of parents are we?"

"Susan, it was an accident, you weren't there, you had no control over whether this happened or not."

Susan gave me a smile. "You know, you are such a mature young man, I still find it hard to believe sometimes that you and Steven are the same age. Thank you Jensen... I know I am an old fuss pot, I just care that's all and this injury of yours just brought it home to me how delicate you kids are."

"I'll be fine, why don't you go to the store, and take your time."

Susan stroked my hair and got up from the sofa. She looked back at me before disappearing out of sight. I heard the front door shut and let my head tip back on the seat. There was a brief moment of peace until someone else appeared in the doorway.

"Can you fucking believe I actually got the blame for this?" Steven barked, leaning against the door frame, folding his arms.

I laughed. "Were you hiding upstairs?"

"Fucking right, she's been on at me since we got back if you hadn't noticed. I don't get it, you get yourself nailed and then I get nailed by her."

"Enough with the nailing, look, I told her it was my fault."

"Damn right, but she won't listen; right now you are the new Christmas present... he who must be protected like the crown jewels. Me? Well I'm just scum!"

"Aww, would you like a hug and a kiss to make it all better," I said, starting to grin.

"Fuck off; you know it's not fair."

"So what do you want me to do... apart from already saying it was my fault?"

Steven huffed. "So how is it anyway, not that you deserve my compassion." He asked, eyeing my bandaged foot.

"A little sore, but hey that stuff they gave me for the pain... that was awesome."

"Morphine right? Yeah, I had that when I broke my arm two years ago, its pretty good shit."

"Hmm, I'll say. So what did your friends think of me?"

"How should I know, I've not had a chance to have the inquest yet since I got whisked away in dad's van with you."

"I bet they hate me for ruining their day."

"Oh shut up cum stain, they don't hate you, it was just a freak accident, it's not like you did it on purpose, right?"

"What do you think?"

"What do I think? Well, I think maybe a certain boy is missing another boy already."

I rolled my eyes. "Just in case it never occurred to you, I've actually been in agony for the most part before being injected with space crystals, so if you are talking about DAVE then I've really thought about him."

"I thought it was kinda sweet, you know, the way he took care of you and got that nail out."

"How would you know, you were a lifeless wreck on the floor while the worst of it was happening. What if it had just been me and you? Would I've had to sit there bleeding to death while waiting for you to come round from your little snooze."

"Cocky talk from the quiet boy, I like it... here would you like me to squeeze that foot for you?"


"Whoops, sorry, my hand slipped."

Max had come home early to see how I was doing thinking that Susan would probably be making it worse by smothering me.

He'd be right.

"So how are you champ? Can you stand on it now that it's bandaged?"

"No, it still hurts too much. Steven has been moving me from place to place."

"It'll get better son... hey, do you remember calling me Daddy in the hospital?" Max asked, a grin forming on his face.

"Erm, oh did I?"

Of course I remember, I thought, wanting to cringe at my bizarre behaviour.

"Very touching, Puppy... very touching indeed," he teased.

"The name Dad, is starting to not feel so alien to me now I guess."

"Its fine, Puppy, don't force it, I am happy with Max, if that's what you feel comfortable with."

I gave him a smile. "Susan thinks she has failed as a parent Max, I feel really bad."

"I'll talk to her later when you guys are in bed. She can get like that about stuff, she'll be fine. She has a lot of love in her Puppy, as you have probably noticed, but she does forget how intense she can come across with people at times."

"It's not a bad thing, It's just..."

"I know Son, sometimes you just want to be left alone after being impaled, right?" Max burst out laughing and I just nodded.

"Yeah, something like that."

"So where is your mover abouter?"

"He's upstairs sulking. Susan told him off for what happened to me."

"Ah shit, really. Poor guy, I do feel sorry for him sometimes, she is a little hard on him occasionally."

"I did tell her it was just an accident. I know he puts on a brave face Max, but I think getting blamed for what I did has really upset him."

"I'll go chat to him in a bit... Jesus, I feel like the family counsellor," Max declared, grinning. "So, any more news on Cindy?"

"I'ven't heard from her, but she did say to call her in a few days, so I might try tomorrow."

"I can take you to see her Tuesday if you like, I'm due to finish the current job I'm on and then the next one we have doesn't start until Friday."

"Do you have to call Greenstone, I'm not sure on the rules?"

Max shrugged. "I've been vetted and you used to live there, I doubt it would be a problem. I've Mr Watson's office number anyway, I'll call him tomorrow after I've dropped Steven at school."

"Oh yeah, he goes back to school tomorrow, I forgot about that."

"I'm sure he is trying to forget about it too. Steven is not a lover of school. Speaking of school, Susan and I were discussing when to enrol you, but now with this injury we had better leave it for a moment at least until you are back on your feet."

"Will I go to the same school as Steven?"

"That's my hope, but there needs to be space for you, I'm not sure how it all works, that's more Susan's area."

"Wow, well it would be great if I could."

Max sniggered. "Yeah it would be... it will save a fortune in fuel for the car."

"Yeah," I chuckled, "I guess it would."

"So, I gather you'll be wanting a shower at some point later after being out with the boys. We'll have to get something to wrap that bandage in to keep it dry."

"Hmm, not sure how that will work, trying to stand on one foot, I'll probably fall over."

"We'll figure something out... oh, looks like Susan is back," Max stated, looking out of the window.

I heard the front door go and Susan marched into the lounge, probably wondering if I was dead, by the look on her face. That was until she saw Max.

"Oh hi honey, your home early... Jensen, I'm sorry I took so long, I had to go get petrol for the car and then this lorry parked right in the middle of the road delivering furniture to a house."

"No worries Susan, like I said, I would be fine."

Susan turned to Max. "Ten minutes I sat there Max, ten bloody minutes... whoops, excuse my French. But seriously, he didn't even attempt to park up close to the sidewalk... nope him and his scruffy mate just pull up in front of me and get out of the lorry. God knows how far the traffic backed up, I thought I was going to run out of fuel."

Max put his arm round her and rubbed her shoulder. "Never mind honey, your back now, Jensen is ok, the car is full of fuel, the people got their furniture and all is right in the world again."

"Trust you to make fun of this, I told Jensen I would be ten minutes... where is Steven, did he come down and check on you?"

"Yeah he did," I replied, trying to reassure her stressed posture.

"Would you like me to cook tonight, so you put your feet up?"

"Oh would you, I've had a manic day... I even cleaned the chickens out. Did you know they're almost out of food, I only went and got that bag a few days ago."

"Oh, that might be me Susan, I am never sure how much to give them, is it too much?" I asked.

"They'll eat whatever you give them Jensen, but yeah, cut it back a little, or at least tell them that for the extra food they are getting, that you expect extra eggs."

"Were there any today?"

"Yes, two today, back to normal frequency, but as the weather cools down more as we go into winter you won't see them lay as much."

"Yeah Jensen, trying to squeeze an egg out of your chicken vagina is no fun in the cold."

"MAX!!" Susan screamed. Max just winked at me and ran off out of the lounge. Susan shook her head and followed him.

I managed to crawl upstairs without being seen by Susan or Max and dragged myself into the bedroom. Steven was sitting on his bed watching TV.

"What was mum screaming at dad for?"

"He said a naughty word," I replied, struggling to get onto my own bed. Steven watched me.

"You know, if I was a gentleman I would get up and help you out there... but as you must be aware... I'm not."

"Yeah... thanks... Steven," I puffed, hauling myself onto the bed trying not to put my damaged foot down.

"So what are you doing tonight?"

"In this state, not a lot, you?"

"I was going to ask you if you wanted to watch The Hills Have Eyes later on."

"That's a movie right?"

"Yeah, it's some kind of horror, it starts at nine."

"I'm good with that, but I've never seen a horror movie, I gather it's got monsters in it?"

"Horror normally means scary, so yeah it might have monsters in it."

"I'll give it a try... but I need to have a shower at some point tonight, and I was wondering if you would help me."


"Well... shit this is embarrassing. I think dad is going to offer to assist me in the shower and, well you know, I don't know how I feel about him being in there."

"I hardly think he is gonna get an erection over you Jensen, if you hadn't guessed, you're his son, and last time I checked, he was into women."

"Why can't you be serious for one, I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about him... him seeing my... bits."

Steven creased his face up. "Well I don't particularly have a great desire to see them either, Jensen."

"Yeah I know, but... oh for fuck sake, look, I would just feel more comfortable if you were there rather than Max...and God forbid, mum, ok? Besides, you said you're scum, perhaps getting splashed with a little soapy water will cure you of that malady."

"Fuck you. . . ok, Fine, but you can scrub your own dick, I aint doing that part."

"I can clean myself, I just might need you to hold me steady so I don't have to use one hand to lean on the wall."

"Ok, ok, just let me know when you wanna go play water sports, and I'll be there."

"Water spor-"

"forget it!" he broke in.

"By the way, I was meaning to ask you, it's about Dave?"

"Oh, I knew you wouldn't be able to not bring him up, what's the matter, got it bad for him, I knew it wouldn't take long."

"Shut up, it's not that, I just wanted to know how someone like him would hang around with... well you kinda guys?"

"What are you trying to say?"

"Nothing, he just seems a little different from the rest of you. I know that sounds really bad but I-"

"So you're asking how a posh boy ended up hanging around us trailer trash?"

"That's not what I'm saying, and I don't think you are trailer trash, nor your friends, he just seems to be the odd one out."

"He was bullied at school quite badly. Like you say he is kinda upper class in a sense of how he talks and acts. He got teased a lot for that. There were three boys at school who made his life hell for two years."

"Wow, are they still at the school or were they booted out?"

"No they're still there."

"But why, any bulling that went on at Greenstone was dealt with really severely."

"We were pulled in to an anti-bullying program and-"

"Wait... we?"

"Yeah, the three boys who made his life hell were me, Jessie and Billy."

"Hang on, I'm lost here... you were the guys who made his life hell and now he hangs around with you?"

"Funny old world isn't it." Steven said, still watching the TV.

"So how did that come about?"

Steven turned his attention to me and sighed. "This anti-bullying program made us see the damage we had done to this kid. We didn't know him, and didn't even get to know him, but we made it our goal to make his life a misery because he was different from us. I watched him cry his eyes out day after day and never cared, nor did the others. He suffered at the hand of us and for what? What did he do to us? Those were the questions we were being asked in this meeting. One day they set up a session with just him and the rest of us, as in me, Jessie and Billy. Dave asked us why we were so cruel to him. All the guy wanted was to be liked. He explained he couldn't help the way he spoke, or who his parents were. He said he came to school everyday and had to vomit in the school bathroom because his stomach was so twisted up with fear and stress. I listened as he told us he cried himself to sleep most nights locked in his room. His only friend was his cat which slept with him on his bed. He was too scared to tell his parents, especially his dad because he said he would have been called weak. The guy was not only being bullied by us, but his only support was an animal."

I tried to hide the tears that were now falling down my face, but I needn't have bothered as Steven's face had long since become wet with his own. Even though he was not the victim here, I knew what he had done must of hurt him to know he had caused so much suffering to another human being, along with his friends.

"So what happened?" I said, softly.

Steven sniffed and tried to compose himself. "Well, I saw him a few days later in the corridor on his own. He went to run from me but I called him and told him to wait. I pulled him into one of the bathrooms and locked the door."

"Oh my God, you didn't hurt him did you?"

"What? No... like I said, I locked the door and just held him tight and said sorry I don't know how many times. He broke down in tears and we just stood there for about ten minutes. All the hate went from both of us. It was a strange experience, but what I had done to him with Billy and Jessie had really affected me. It's not until you really have it explained to you what devastation you can do to another person with words that you understand how fragile we all are. Everyone has a limit Jensen, you know that better than most I imagine. Dave had a limit too, and I really wondered how close he came to..."

Steven put his hands over his face and broke down, quietly.

"You thought he was going to kill himself?"

"Could you blame him?" Steven croaked.

"When life really seems that bad, and I've felt like that, all you want is the pain to go away. Although Dave's pain was manifested from other people rather than his own mind, I think I can feel a little of what he must have felt, and your word devastating doesn't come close."

"Exactly, so anyway, he's in our group because I made him a promise."

"A promise?"

"Yeah, a promise that while he and I were alive, I would protect him, and be his friend."

"And Jessie... Billy?"

"The same, he's one of us now, and he goes to school knowing that he never has to worry about anyone bothering him ever again. He's put on a healthy weight, his grades are good and he smiles a lot... I mean a lot."


"Yeah," he replied, drying his eyes.

"I think that is the most amazing thing I've heard come out of your mouth since I met you."

"See, I'm not all bad am I?"

"You have your moments, but hearing all that, Jesus, you just a really good person who I am proud to call my brother... yeah no half measures either."

"Don't go all sloppy on me now, this is the first and only time you'll ever see me cry, ok?"

"It's ok to cry, I've seen Max cry, and he's about as manly as you can get if you are worried about your street cred?" We sat in silence for a few minutes. I knew it was up to me to lighten the mood. "So, you want that hug and a kiss now?"

"Fuck you!" Steven laughed before throwing a pillow at my head head.

The tension was broken.

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