That evening Maria came into my study with a coffee and a small plate of my cookies. “The boys said you liked these cookies.”
I laughed. 'As a kid, I like these a lot, but you have changed that. I’ll take your cookies over these any day.”
“You seemed to create a lot of excitement over the attic.” I recognize that this was the time to tell Maria what was going to happen.
“Maria, why don’t you go get yourself a cup of coffee, and I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. It affects you, and you should know.”
Maria came back with a cup and the coffee pot, she can read me like a book. I closed the door. That was a sign I was not to be disturbed.
“When I was in Europe, I met some very important people. As you know, I have been returning with young men, boys who are forced to live on the streets. These men want to use what I do as a model to encourage other people who have the means to copy me. Next week they are sending an architect to see how we can increase the number of bedrooms to accommodate additional boys. That is why I was surprised and happy to see the attic. This will mean more work for you, so I want you to start thinking about hiring help. You know what you’ll need. I don’t expect to change the boys’ responsibilities, but there will still be an extra load for you. You think about it, and if there’s anyone you know who can help you, we’ll go and get them. But I want to make one thing clear; any new staff will be under your directions. I do not want to supervise any staff, you have worked for me for several years, and I’m delighted with you becoming a part of my family.” I looked at Maria when I was done. I wasn’t sure if the tears were from happiness or worried about the additional work. I couldn’t lose Maria. She was the one person that helped the boys with her grandmother’s approach.
We sat there for a long time, not saying anything. As time passed, I became more concerned. “Maria, say something.”
“I don’t know what to say. I know what you do and what these boys were going through when you bring them home. The boys talk to me, and if what they say is half true, it breaks my heart. In all honesty, I don’t know if I can stand to hear any more stories.”
I knew what she was saying. It’s hard. I still shed tears over our lost brother. “Maria, I know what you’re saying. I still cry when I think about my son, who is sleeping. But I can’t turn away. I made a vow that I would never turn away a child who is forced to live on the streets. I think every time I find one and bring them home. I put a smile on someone’s face in heaven. I can’t, and I won’t lose another child.”
Now I had wet eyes. Maria looked at me, and maybe for the first time, she understood what goes through my heart and head when I bring a boy home. It’s a time to rejoice. I saved another.
She got up, topped off my cup, and left. I was quiet. Alone with my thoughts when a small child climbed up on my lap. I looked into that smiling face as I gave him a hug, a kiss, and a cookie. I just held him on my lap as he finished the cookie. I watched the smile turn into the contented look of sleep.
Carefully I carried him to bed, thanking God for giving me this opportunity even if it hurt. The boys saw me and decided it was time for bed as well. When I look at the time, it was 10 o’clock at night.
I didn’t bother getting Charlie undressed for bed. I took off his shoes, covered him, and looked upon a sleeping angel. Thanking God, I went to my room. Showered, brushed my teeth, put on a pair of sweats, and went to bed. Sleep came easy, but the dreams were not easy. They were a torment. I lived the first boy I didn’t save over again. I dreamt that I turned a boy away who later came and haunted me because he was dead. The nightmares didn’t stop until someone else crawled in my bed, Charlie snuggled up, and peace returns to me.
In the morning, I was awoken by a kiss and a giggled. “What are you doing in my bed?” As I grabbed him and tickled him. Then I covered his face with kisses. He laughed so loud that David heard him and came to see what was so funny.
Then he began to laugh as well. Soon I had all of the boys not only in my room but in my bed as well. “Do you think we could get Gram to serve us breakfast in bed?”
They laughed, “Let’s get dressed and have a great breakfast.” I was in a happy mood this morning, and I knew exactly what I was going to do.
All during breakfast, I was smiling. Even the boys wanted to know why I was smiling. “I’m smiling because I had a great morning. Didn’t you have a great morning? I don’t think I have laughed waking up since I was a boy your age.”
Then everyone had a smile. “We’re going shopping this morning. Maria, I’m taking all of the boys, and I’ll stop and see if I can get copies of the house and grounds. We’ll have lunch out so don’t worry about that. Take the morning off.”
She looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t care; I was happy.
“Boys, clean up the kitchen, and we can go.”
It didn’t take long for the kitchen to be clean. “Meet me out front, boys.”
The boys piled into the car. The smaller boys sat on the bigger boys’ lap. The first stop was the garden supply store. The boys looked over various tools and then went outside and looked at the plants and trees. I asked one of the workers to talk to the boys to give them some idea about what they need for the conservatory. I also told him I’d need someone to help clean up the rubbish from the conservatory. With that done, I went and sat in the car. I called Judy and told her to see what she could do to buy a limo for me. She said it was all taken care of, even the driver.
“Don’t forget you have that case in Chicago coming up soon.”
“Yes, can you make the hotel arrangements and the airline tickets? Make it for two, I’m taking my son Steven with me.”
I went to check on the boys. “David, I’m going over to the courthouse to get the plot plans and see if they have the original architectural plans for the house. I shouldn’t be long, be sure, and stay here until I return.”
It didn’t take long for me to get the architectural plans. The plot plans would take a little longer since they would have to be copied.
Going back to the gardening shop, the boys were lined up in front, waiting for me. “Dad, we’re hungry.”
“Okay, let’s go and get pizza.”
Some of the boys were for it, and some of them didn’t know what it was. But once they ate some, they all knew what it was. We ended up taking several home for a snack, they said.
The outing with the boys must have been very exciting to them. To me, it wasn’t that exciting. They spent a long time telling Maria all about it. Then they pulled out the many leaflets they got at the gardening shop. This, they had to go through each leaflet, one by one.
“Maria, don’t worry about dinner. The boys brought back enough pizzas for dinner and a snack.”
The next morning I took Steven to the city to buy him a suit. He wanted to know why, so I told him. “From now on, when I go anywhere, I’m going to take one of you with me. You are the first, so we need to get you outfitted as a young gentleman.”
I took him to the shop where I bought all of my suits. I told them I wanted one suit and one slack and jacket outfit. I had picked out several dress shirts and two ties. One nice thing about boys, if they outgrow something, there is always another one coming along that can wear the out grown clothes.
The architect showed up on schedule. He was briefed before he arrived, so he had a good foundation on the project. When I showed him the house prints and the attic, he thought he could get additional 16 rooms. Of course, the roof had to be remodeled to include dormers. When he showed me the sketches, each dormer had a small balcony. I asked the boys about it. They were all for it and liked it. The next thing they did was all, except Charlie, decided they wanted to have their room in the attic.
The architect took the plans and said he’d return with the new drawings, and if we approved, they would begin the modifications.
The following week, Steven and I flew to Chicago. He was excited, and I was curious to see how he’d react. The evening we arrived, I had a meeting with my client. The case involved a foreign corporation copying my client’s patent.
That evening Steven dressed in his sport jacket, he looked very handsome. We walked to a restaurant close to the hotel. After eating a nice steak dinner, we walked the long way around to the hotel. I spotted a young boy in ragged clothes, begging for money. “Steven, see that young man over there. Go talk to him and see if you can get him to come home with us.”
I watched Steven as he went to talk with the boy. They talked for what appeared to be a long time. I saw the boy shake his head no and look at me. Steven kept talking. Then he came over to talk with me.
“Dad, he’s very hungry. We need to get him some food. “
“Okay, there’s a pizza place on that corner. Go and get him a large pepperoni pizza. While he eats it, keep talking. Tell him about yourself and how you ended up going with me and what it’s like now at home. Tell him about your brothers and what you know about them before and now.”
I watched Steven. He went back to the boy and told him what he was going to do. I saw him cross the street and return about 30 minutes later with a large box and a can of soda. When the boy saw this, he smiled. Steven gave him the pizza and soda. The boy must have been very hungry. He sat down on the street, opened the box, grabbed a pizza slice, and began to eat. If you haven’t eaten for a few days, the first bites are gulps tend to come back up. And they did. Steven opens the soda for him and told him to take a drink. I watched as Steven kept talking, soon the boy closed the box, and he and Steven walked toward me.
Steven introduced the boy to me, “Dad, this is Mathew, he’s 12 years old.”
“I’m glad Steven talked to you. I would like you to come home with us. Steven can tell you about our home and his brothers. Why don’t you come with us to our hotel and finish your pizza?”
I could see the fear in his eyes. Steven began to talk to him as we walked, I didn’t hear everything, but I knew Steven was telling him about the time he was on the street, comrades in being alone.
“Dad, he’ll go home with us. We need to get him some clothes.”
“You stay here and get him to take a shower and brush his teeth. I’ll get him some clothes. See if you can check the sizes he’s wearing.”
I went to the phone and called down to tell them I had an additional guest. This wasn’t Europe, and prostitution was an everyday fact in Chicago. Children being an exception, and the police, even if they looked the other way for adults, don’t look the other way for children.
Steven gave me the sizes. I left to buy some clothes. One thing about big cities there is always a store open. I found a clothing store about three blocks from the hotel. I bought enough for two changes, I’d get more at home.
Going back to my hotel room, I found the boy sitting at a table, in a bathrobe, eating his pizza. Even Steven had a slice. I gave the new clothes to the boy, he looked at them and smiled, but I saw the tears in his eyes.
Originally Steven was going to go to court with me, but now he elected to stay at the hotel with Mathew. I called room service and ordered breakfast for three. “Steven, I would like you to stay in the room while I’m at court. If you’re hungry, order food from room service. I shouldn’t be too long.”