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Puppy for Sale - 12. Unknowns, Achy Bones and Flashing Phones

As we all sat around the table, no one wanted to start eating. We were all waiting to hear what Max was going to announce. Even Steven, who usually didn't pay much attention to... well, anything, was listening intently.

"I um, I called Greenstone today to find out about Cindy?"

"Oh Jesus, dad, I thought you were gonna tell us you had cancer or something," Steven blurted before quickly taking his knife and fork, starting to eat.

"Steven, don't be so insensitive; this is important to Puppy," Max retorted. Susan gave Steven a stern look.

"What... what's happened?" I asked, feeling it was some terrible news.

"Well, that's just it, Puppy, I don't know. They won't tell me anything. Just that Cindy has already been placed with her new parents."

"Impossible," I barked. "She would have called me."

"Have you tried to call her, Honey?" Susan asked me, putting her hand on mine.

"Yeah, earlier, I was told she was not in her room at the moment. So no, I refuse to believe she is gone; they would have told me."

"Who did you speak to?" Max asked.

"Charlotte, why?"

"Well, that might explain things."

"But why would she lie Max, why not just say she was not living there anymore and give me a contact number?"

Max turned to Susan. "This is all a little weird. I spoke to that Watson guy, who was really cagey about telling me anything. What can I do?"

"I hate to say it, Honey, but nothing really. We have no right to any information if they don't wanna give it to us."

"But... But I lived there forever. Surely that must hold some weight," I exclaimed.

"Perhaps, her new parents told them to shut the fuck up about it."

"Language, Stevie!" Susan barked.

Steven's comment was rather unneeded, but he did have a point. Greenstone would have been obliged to keep quiet if requested. Either way, it had me worried.

"So what now?" I asked, still hopeful.

Max sighed. "I don't know... I guess I could go there and see for myself. Not that they'll probably let me in or anything."

"Max, Puppy, I know this sounds terrible, but should we be getting involved in this? I know you were very close to Cindy, but if she does have a new life with some parents, then perhaps we should respect their wish."

"Mum's right, Jensen; since you like guys, it's not like you had a future together."

"She's still my friend Steven and-"

"Sorry, Steven?" Max asked, interrupting me. It was then I realised what he's said. Steven swallowed hard; I swallowed harder; Susan looked livid, and Max? Well, Max just stared at Steven.

"Erm..." Steven started.

"It's true," I admitted softly, dropping my head.

"You knew?" Max asked. I looked up and saw he was looking at Susan. "You knew, and you didn't tell me?"

"It wasn't my place to say," Susan replied, worry in her tone.

"And you? How long have you known?" he asked, this time looking at Steven. Steven just shrugged, not wanting to get any deeper into this. Max pushed his plate away and leant back in his chair, sighing.

"Honey, it's not a big deal, is it?" Susan asked him.

"Goddammit," Max yelled out. "I've just lost fifty bloody pounds!" He then proceeded to burst into a big belly laugh before pulling his plate back towards him. The rest of us just looked at him with our mouths open, wondering if he had gone mad.

"Max?"

"I...I had this bet... oh, I'm sorry, I can't stop laughing. I had this bet with one of my guys at work, and-

"Hang on... so you're not angry?" Steven asked him.

"Angry? That I lost fifty pounds, yeah like shit I am... that's Puppy's gay? No way, now I've one of each, right? Unless your gonna tell me-"

"NO, DAD!" Steven yelled, cutting him off.

"Max, what's this bet you had? I hope it's not at Puppy's expense."

Max looked at me. I was still in shock... for a moment thinking my world was going to end. But, seeing Max now laughing, I didn't care what he had done at my expense.

"I was just telling one of my guys at work about how polite and in touch with his feelings Puppy was. You know, I was just mega excited about finding him and spending time with him." Max turned to me. "I said how you liked the softer things in life and how different you were to Steven, that's all."

"So why have you lost fifty pounds?" Susan asked, making him turn back to her.

"Well, Robert, the guy who I was telling said he was sure that Puppy was probably gay, you know, from what I said and all that. So I said to him, naaaah, and he said, ‘I'm telling ya’. Then he said he would bet me fifty pounds that sooner or later I would be proven wrong... and guess what, it looks like I've just lost the bet."

Max creased up again before getting up from his seat. He threw his arms around me from the back and kissed me on the head. "Sorry, Puppy, it was just a little joke."

"I don't mind. I’m just glad you're not angry or anything."

"Nah, Love is universal Puppy, as long as you love someone and they love you, who gives a shit what sex they are, right Susan?"

"Exactly... grrr Max, you had me all worried there for a moment."

"I was just playing around; when have you ever seen me get upset about anything?"

Susan smiled. "Well, this is what I said to Puppy today, wasn't it?" She stated, looking at me.

"So now everyone knows, can we just let Jensen get on with his primitive life and move on from this?" Steven said. I smacked the back of his hand with my spoon, causing him to yelp in pain. "Ok, I deserved that."

"Yeah, you did!"

"Okay, boys, play nice or no ice cream for dessert!" Susan declared. "Now, let's eat before this gets cold."

"Well, Steven has almost finished, Love, so no chance of that," Max remarked, looking at Steven’s almost empty plate.

Jeez, what a great family I've got!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I lay on my bed stuffed with food and ice cream as Steven tapped away on his computer. I flicked on the TV and went through the channels trying to find something interesting to watch. Steven was yet again sitting topless, which was highly distracting. As he moved his hands across the keyboard, his back muscles would flex and contort.

Steven suddenly turned round and reached over to his school bag. He pulled a book out of it and tossed it to me.

"Here, I've written down all the questions I've to answer. Tear a page out and write down all the answers, and I'll copy them in later."

I frowned at him. "I'm not your slave, Steven."

"But you said you would help me with this."

"Yeah, I said HELP you, not do it all while you sit there and look at dirty video's and chat to your friends."

"It’s called porn, and I’m looking at it for an art project. Anyway, you know I liked you better when you did as you were told."

"Well, you created this monster, so deal with it."

Steven laughed. "You're so funny when you try and act authoritarian. It just doesn't suit you."

I glared at him. "Switch that screen off and come over here. We’ll do your homework together." I insisted. Steven huffed but did as I asked.

Hmm, I could get used to that, I thought, as I experienced my first taste of dominance over him.

"Fine, here I am. How can I help?" He said sarcastically.

"Take a pen, read the formula's and then try and get the answer. Then, if you need help, I will help."

"I hate Maths!"

"Yes, I already know that... so will you be seeing Dave tomorrow?" I asked as casually as I could.

"I thought we were doing homework... and yes, I will be."

"We are. I was just asking, that's all."

"I'm concentrating," Steven said, lost in one of the formulas.

"Will he be coming round here tomorrow?"

"Don't think so. Why?"

"Just wondering."

"He thinks you are a nice guy... hey, can you help me with this one,"

"The answer is fourteen... He does, does he?"

"Uh-huh," Steven replied. "So if that is fourteen, then the final answer will be thirty-two yes?"

"You got it, move onto the next one. So did he say anything else?"

"Square root of 49... no, he didn't."

"Seven... oh okay."

Steven stopped and looked at me before closing his book and placing it to one side.

"Look, Jensen, let's cut the bullshit here. You like Dave, yes?"

"Yeah, you know I do."

"So tell him yourself, you had the opportunity this afternoon, and you didn't say anything."

"How could I? That would have been well embarrassing."

"Why, because I was there, or because he might have said he didn't like you back."

"Well, both really, and besides. I can't just go and tell another guy I like him."

"Why not, If I like a girl, I'll just tell her. At least she knows then, and it's out of the way."

"Yeah, you seem to have this obsession with getting topics out in the open... and fast."

"Look, if there is one thing I can't stand, it's dithering. I just wish people would just say what they feel instead of dancing around the fucking houses about stuff."

"Because people have feelings, Steven, you can't just always say what you feel; you could upset someone. For example, if your mum put on a horrible dress, would you tell her it's horrible?"

"Of course I would... and I have in the past when Max has been too chickenshit to."

"Jesus, you are something else. Well, anyway, I can't be like you. I am too scared of what his reaction might be."

"Okay, so do you want ME to tell him you like him?"

"You mean you haven't already?" I asked sarcastically.

"Pfft, give me some credit... but, no, I haven’t."

"Why not? I thought you liked things out in the open."

"That's different, that's a gay guy to gay guy thing, and I'm not getting involved unless you specifically ask me to."

"No! Don't you say anything to him."

"Well then, can you? Your pining and endless questions about him are draining me of sanity."

"Oh, be quiet. I’m not that bad; I just like him, that's all."

"Then tell him, not me... now can we finish this damn homework before I end up chained to Mr Fuckface's room of death when I next have his class?"

"You closed the book, not me."

"Smartass!"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

It was late, and I had been trying to drift off forever. My mind was racing... racing from subject to subject, and I couldn't stop it. Steven had unusually left his blinds open, and I could just about see the moon, high in the sky. All was quiet, the only noise being the ticking of our bedroom clock.

"Steven?"

"Hmmm, I'm tryin’ to sleep. Some of us have school tomorrow." Came a drowsy reply.

"Oh yeah, sorry, don't worry, goodnight," I said, laying on my back, staring at the ceiling. Steven turned over so he was facing me.

"You can't do that. Now I wanna know what you wanted."

"I like you."

"Is that it?" He asked, rolling his eyes.

"No, I mean, I really like you, and... and I don't know how to deal with that."

"So you wait until midnight to tell me?"

"I'm sorry, it was just on my mind, that's all."

Steven sighed. "Look, Jensen, you're a really nice guy, and yeah, I'll admit, you are really good looking, but I don't feel like that towards guys, and even if I did, we are almost like brothers."

"I'm confused."

"As usual," he muttered. "About what?"

"Well, you say you think I am a good looking guy, but if you don't like guys in that way, how can you say that?"

"I might not be gay, but I can still tell the difference between a good looking guy and an ugly guy. I mean, if I had to blow Dave or Billy, then I think no matter how straight someone is, the choice would be obvious."

"Yeah, I guess so."

Steven suddenly started to grin. "So, just out of curiosity, who do you find hotter? Dave, or me?"

I thought about that question for a moment. "Well, I've seen more of you. You have a nice body" I shrugged. "So I would say you at this stage. But because I know you don't feel the same, it kind of pours cold water on it."

"Wow, I'm flattered, but if you go for bodies, you won't be disappointed with Dave's. That boy is super toned and much more cut than me."

"Cut?"

"Yeah... like, although he is less built than me, his muscles are more defined and sharp."

"He has a beautiful face," I mused.

"He's a handsome guy, yes, and you need to put your energy into him, Jensen. There is no future for you and me. You know that, right?"

"I do, deep down. I think I just wanted to tell you how I was feeling."

"And that's cool. You can do that any time, just remember though, I can't give you what I think you want. But I am okay with what you feel, and in some ways, I understand."

"You do?"

"I think so. There is this nice girl at school that I like, but she is going out with another boy. I've told her how I feel about her, but she says she likes this other boy and that she would never go out with me."

"Wow, that's a bit harsh."

"You could say that, or you could respect her for being honest. The truth is, her boyfriend is the captain of the school football team for our year, he is frequently said to be the best looking boy in the school, AND his parents are loaded. So I can't blame her for wanting to stick with him. So in that respect, yeah, I know how you feel when you can't have something you like."

"Hmm, it sucks, but hey, thanks for being cool with me. I’m just being stupid and sentimental."

"No, you just need to have sex with someone."

"Ha-ha, possibly, not that I would know what to do."

"Well, THAT I definitely can't teach you! Jerking off is one thing, but anything else is just beyond my comfort zone," Steven said before giggling.

"Well, even if you're not gay, I've noticed you are pretty relaxed about seeing me naked and being naked around me."

"You got a dick, Jensen. It’s just a dick... another part of your body. I've one too. I also have a pair of nuts and an ass... same as you. I don't know why people are so prudish about certain parts of their body."

"Yeah, but it's a sexual organ, though, as you said."

"It is, yeah, but you don't have to make it sexual when you see another one. I don't look at your dick and think, Jesus, I really wanna make that hard, or make it do what it's designed to do. I just look at it, think, wow, that's an impressive piece of meat, and that's it. Bottom line? It's a penis; it has its uses for its owner, but it has no use to me, does it?"

"Wow, what a way to explain it. I’ve never thought of it like that before."

"Yeah, well, that's my two cents. I’m going to sleep now. Try and get some zeds yourself."

"Yeah, you're right. Good night Stevie,"

"Good night... Puppy!"

I smiled and closed my eyes.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Knock, knock, only me... young man, you are still in bed and missing the day," Susan said, waking me from my slumber.

"Wha... what time is it?" I groaned before yawning.

"Almost eleven. You must have needed your sleep by the sounds of it," she said, sitting down on Steven's unmade bed.

"I didn't even hear Steven get up, and yeah, I think yesterday took it out of me. But I was awake until gone one a.m."

"Thinking about Cindy?"

"Hmm, how did you guess? I tried to close my eyes, but it kept going round and round in my head Susan."

"We all get nights like that, Puppy, and I am sure you have had your fair share."

"Yeah, when I was manic at Greenstone, sometimes I didn't sleep for three whole days. It was awful. Then I would sleep for two days sometimes."

"Hmm, well, I think you have made great strides in that department, sweetheart. Anyway, the reason I am here is to give you something."

"Oh?"

Susan got up and went towards the door before revealing a JD Sports bag to me."

"What is it?"

"A replacement pair of Sneakers... for the ones that got ruined by that nail."

"Wow, but really, those were expensive; you shouldn't have."

"Don't be silly. It was just an accident, and I couldn't bear that you had to throw them away so quickly. The new ones should be exactly the same, but let me know if they are different, and I'll take them back."

I pulled the box from the bag and looked inside. Sure enough, they were the same pair of Nike sneakers I had picked out previously.

"Thanks, Susan, you're the best."

"Aww, you're welcome, Button... say, who is the bear from?" She asked, eyeing the little toy on my bedside table.

"Oh, that... it's from Dave."

"Oh yeah? A little romance in the air already?"

I laughed. "No, it's just a get well soon thing. It says it on the front if you look."

"I'm just teasing you, but that was very nice of him. How thoughtful."

"Yeah, I thought so too."

"So, plans for today?"

I yawned again. "Dunno, I need a hobby at least until my foot gets better."

"Steven went through a phase of Lego building. It's all still in the attic as far as I recall."

"Yeah, we had Lego at Greenstone. That was fun until some kid choked on a block, and they banned it from the public recreation room. I did have a few models in my room, but Cindy broke them up and made a weird thing out of all the bits. I never saw them again after that."

"Goodness," Susan remarked, chuckling. "Well, I need to do some ironing; I'll see you downstairs in a little while."

"Yeah, Okay, Susan, I'm getting up now."

She left our room, and I sat up in bed before tossing my feet out over the side and then stretching. I hobbled to the bathroom to take a much-needed pee and then brushed my teeth. Finally, I leant on the sink with my hands, trying to wake up before limping back again to the bedroom.

Looking at my bedside table, I could see my phone flashing, telling me I had a message. I picked it up and activated the screen. The only people I had saved on my phone was Max, Steven, Susan and Greenstone's numbers.

The phone only displayed a number indicating that the message was from a person I had not yet saved. I clicked on the message icon bringing the text up. It was very short and said...

I like U 2, hugz!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


After hearing the front door go, I excitedly hobbled into the hallway and leant over the railings to see if Dave was with Steven. It was around the time Steven got in from school, and I just hoped he had invited his friend back again. My hopes were dashed, though, when I heard Max's voice call out to Susan.

I went back into the bedroom and slumped on my bed like some lovesick idiot. I heard Max coming up the stairs and assumed he was coming up to get changed out of his work gear. That was until he appeared in our bedroom.

"You're home early," I stated, managing a smile.

"Yeah, we got the job done quicker than I thought. Anyway, get your shoes on... or shoe, should I say," he said, looking down at my fat bandaged foot.

"Why, where are we-"

"Greenstone!"

"Really?" I asked, my eyes lighting up.

"Well, I know you won't be able to rest until you know what's going on, and I think we owe it to Cindy to make sure everything is okay. But Puppy, Don't set your hopes too high. We may come away knowing as little as we do now. I just want you to be prepared for that."

"Yeah... yeah, sure."

"Good, I just need to go and let Susan know what we are doing. Then, when you are ready, meet me downstairs."

With that, he walked out, and I heard him trudge back down the stairs. I sat for a few moments, wondering if this was a good idea. I didn't want Max to get in any bother, but at the same time, I agreed that things didn't feel right. I needed to know if I was ever going to be able to get a good night's sleep.

I pulled on my sneaker and strapped up my support boot to my bad foot. Having been out to see the chickens today, I knew that a warm coat would be mandatory, so I unhooked my fleece jacket from the back of the door and limped towards the stairs.

As I approached the bottom of the stairs, I could hear Max and Susan having a conversation. It sounded like she was trying to talk him out of going. He seemed determined, though, and the last thing she said was...

"Just be careful, Max."

"I will, Honey... oh, Puppy, there you are, are you ready to go?" He asked as I hobbled into the kitchen.

"As I'll ever be."

"Good, I need to put some Diesel in the van, and then we'll make our way there, sound okay?"

"Yeah, sure," I responded, shrugging.

We both headed towards the front door, and just as Max opened it, Steven was outside holding his key up just about to place it in the door. A conflict of interest immediately entered my mind as I saw Dave standing right behind him.

Damn!

"Hey Steven, hello Dave... how was school?"

"Crap, as usual," Steven replied.

"It was good. We did swimming today, Mr Chase," came Dave's response. Max just smiled and let them pass. Dave gave me a shy smile as they both started to head towards the kitchen.

"Where are you two off to?" Steven asked. Dave and I locked eyes, and I soon had to look away, feeling heat rush to my face.

"Going up to the old Greenstone place to find out some info on Cindy. We’ll see you guys later."

"Sure," Steven replied, and he moved off into the kitchen. Dave snapped out of his trance and followed him. I put my hand up, about to call out to him, but Max placed his hand round my shoulder and gestured me outside, not aware of the intense urge I had to explain to Dave why I never responded to his text... that was if he had sent it, of course.

A hundred thoughts raced through my mind as I stepped outside. What if Dave thought, that me not responding meant that I didn't like him? What if he was now so embarrassed because I didn't answer that it had ruined the situation? What if me not saying anything to him at the front door meant he assumed I didn't care? Oh my god, I need to stay here and sort this out, my mind screamed.

It was too late. I was already in the van being driven away.

"You've gone quiet," Max observed.

"What... oh, really? Nah, I'm fine. Just thinking that's all."

"Well, I've learnt that thinking can hurt your head if you don't share it... so c'mon, what's up, tell your old man."

"I want to lie to you because it would be easier, but..."

"You can lie if you want, but I doubt it will make you feel better."

I sighed. "I feel so guilty."

"Why?" Max asked, throwing me a concerned frown.

"Because I love Cindy with all my heart, but Dave just turns up, and I really wanted to stay and talk to him."

"Dave?"

"Yeah... look, it doesn't matter," I said, forcing a smile onto my lips.

"Look, I can always turn round, and we can do this another day. But I don't know why Dave would be more important than... oooh, hang on," Max said, seeing me drop my head sheepishly. "You like Dave, is that it?"

"Kind of," I replied, barely audible.

"And that's why you feel guilty?"

I looked up at him. "For wanting to skip finding out what's happened to my best friend in the world because I have a stupid crush on one of Steven's friends? Yeah, I feel guilty. I said, getting angry with myself.

"Crushes can cause strong emotions, Puppy; It's not something you should feel guilty about."

"Well, I do because I spent four years of my life with Cindy, and I've met Dave three times. So I'm not being fair to her for even thinking about which one is more important to me."

"Don't beat yourself up. I am sure Cindy would want you to be happy, and I am sure she would be made up that you have the opportunity even to have a crush on someone."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Max turned into the small road that led up to the grounds of Greenstone. I never thought I would be coming back here other than to visit Cindy. Now I am here to find out why she is NOT here. A surge of adrenaline ran through my veins as the building came into view. It was the first time I'd been back since being driven away from here in the other direction. I don't know why but I expected it to look different, but it didn't.

Max pulled up close to the entrance, not bothering to park the van in a proper space. We both exited his van, and he walked up to the main door, ringing the bell. I stood behind him like some scared dog, wondering who it would be who answered the door.

"Can I help you," came a voice over the intercom.

Well, that was new, I thought, never knowing the intercom to be in use. Usually, one of the staff would just open the door.

"I would like to speak to Mr Watson, please."

"Can I say who is asking for him?"

"Max Chase, Jensen Stibbing's father."

"One moment, please." The woman replied as the intercom fell silent. I didn't recognise the voice, but it was not uncommon for staff changes to happen. Some people I found were just not suited to the job of looking after homeless children with multiple issues. Some kids here had seen horrible things that had affected their young minds. Some were just here because they had no other family. It was a mixed bag, and I sympathised with every child within those walls.

Moments later, the main door clicked, and Mr Watson stepped out onto the concrete porch.

"Mr Chase, and Puppy, what a surprise... dear oh dear, that foot looks painful, Puppy. So what brings you both back to Greenstone?"

"Huh?" Max said, a little surprised. "I spoke to you yesterday about Cindy Batton?"

"Oh, yes... I'm sorry, Mr Chase, you'll have to forgive me. We’ve had a busy week here. What with four new children arriving and some staff changes, it's been quite hectic. So how can I help you regarding one of our children here?"

"So she is here?"

"I'm not at liberty to say, Mr Chase."

I stepped out from behind Max. "Mr Watson, I'm worried about Cindy, I know you can’t tell us much because I don't live here anymore, but for me, can you just tell me she is okay and whether she is still here or not?" I pleaded.

Mr Watson took a deep breath. "This is entirely against our rules," he muttered. "You had better come inside."

Mr Watson led us through the corridor and upstairs to his office. Thankfully I didn't see anyone on our short trip there, staff nor children. I was reluctant to get into any kind of conversation about my new life. Greenstone had been good to me, yes, but it also harboured negative memories of how I used to be... and feel. Meeting anyone I feared would just rake up old memories.

Mr Watson stood to the side and let us into his office before coming in himself and closing the door. His office was the same as I remember it. I had been in this room so many times that it was so easy to feel a little haunted by its contents.

"Can I get you both a drink at all?" Watson asked, sitting down at his desk. We both declined as I got the feeling Max didn't want to be here just as much as I didn't.

Max was first to speak.

"Puppy said he called this place and spoke to Charlotte, who said Cindy was not in her room, indicating that she was still here, and yet when I had spoken to you, you had told me that Cindy had been placed with new parents. Mr Watson, you know how close Puppy and Cindy were, for his sake, not mine. Would you please be able to give us some information?"

"As you know, Mr Chase, we have to respect the wishes of new parents that adopt a child. Even you, Sir. If someone who knew Puppy got in touch with us to find out information about him, we would not be at liberty to discuss that. With this in mind, Mr Chase, I hope you understand the position my staff and I are in."

"But-"

"However... because I am aware of Puppy and Cindy's relationship, I will reveal some minor details to allay your concerns."

"Anything you can tell us, Mr Watson... anything at all," Max said, sitting forward on his chair.

"Firstly, my conversation with you, Mr Chase, was based on truth. Cindy is no longer with us and has indeed been placed with new parents. Unfortunately, I was not aware of Puppy and Charlotte Grange’s conversation, so I cannot comment on that. Secondly, I wish to assure you that the parents that Cindy is now with are lovely caring people who lost their only child in a fire six years ago. Just like you, Mr Chase, they were fully vetted as standard. Does that put your mind at rest?"

"Yes, thank you," Max replied.

"Not mine!" I exclaimed, causing them to both to look at me. "Cindy knew I would be calling her. In fact, she asked me to. So why, if her move was made so quickly, was she not allowed to call me and let me know?"

"I cannot be sure about that exact circumstance, Puppy. What I do know is that Cindy's new parents asked that she not be contacted by anyone from this home as they wanted her to have a fresh start." Mr Watson replied.

"Well, if these loving parents, as you called them, loved her at all, they would never stop her from having access to the only friend she had in over four years... her best friend," I said, irritated.

"Puppy, I understand your frustration, but I honestly do not know why Cindy did not call you before she left. It may be just a case of her moving and not having your number. After all, she would have called you from the home using one of our phones."

"Well... well, if she is at her new parents, then she could call from there. I doubt very much she would have just left my contact details behind. She knows how important our friendship is."

Mr Watson sighed. "I'm very sorry, Puppy; I don't have any more details I can give you."

Max had been sitting quietly throughout our exchange. I wanted him to back me up in what I was saying but quickly realised that there was nothing he could back up because there were, as Mr Watson stated, no more details on the how or why of all this.

"Well, thank you for your time Mr Watson, and for telling us what you could."

"I wish there were more I could tell you both, but there isn't," I grunted and left my seat, heading towards the door. "How are things, Puppy? You look well? Apart from that foot, obviously," Mr Watson called out as I was about to leave his view.

"I am well, yes. Thank you for asking. How is Doctor Listern," I asked? Causing Max to form a stern look on his face.

"Erm, Doctor Listern is no longer with us, Puppy. Soon after you left Greenstone, he gave his notice to me."

"Oh?"

"Yes, it was sad to see him go, but somehow, I think he felt his time here was done."

I could have picked apart that comment from Mr Watson, but I didn't need to. I knew what he was getting at. So instead, I just decided to smile and nod before saying goodbye and heading towards the stairs. I paused and turned around to Mr Watson, "Mr Watson. Please note in my file that if anyone tries to contact me, it would be alright to give them my information. It's possible that Cindy lost my number or something. I wouldn't want your rules to come into play if she's trying to get in touch with me."

Mr Watson looked to Max for his approval. Max nodded his assent. "I shall make a note of it. Good luck, Puppy."

Back outside, Max unlocked the van and allowed me to get in. The vehicle was now cold, and so was I. However, I could feel myself relaxing a little as we left the grounds and got back to the main road. It was getting dark, and the drive home was slow as everyone seemed to be on the road for some reason.

"Feel better?" Max said, breaking the silence.

I had to think about that. "Yes and no. Yes, I'm glad we found out what we did, but no, because this whole ‘not calling’ me thing is just not like Cindy... I mean, it's not like she would just not bother to call me. I still think something is messed up with that. I just wish I knew what."

"You heard what Mr Watson said, Cindy has gone to loving parents, and you have both begun new chapters in your lives, Puppy. Sometimes that's just the way life goes; people lose touch and move on. You and Cindy being together and close served a purpose to you both at the time, but-"

"That just sounds rather cold Max, what do you mean, it served a purpose? Just because I am no longer at Greenstone doesn't mean I should forget about her. Why would you say that?"

"I'm sorry, that came out wrong. I'm just trying to make a point that maybe that's how she feels about things."

"What, that she has new parents now, so screw, Puppy?"

"Look, I know she wouldn't think something in those blunt terms, but-"

"Your damn right she wouldn't, Max! I knew her, I knew everything about her, and you saying that she has just been packed off to a new home and didn't even give me a second thought is wrong... it’s fucking wrong!" I shouted angrily. Max stayed silent. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to yell at you…. Or swear."

"It’s fine. I can see you're frustrated. Maybe I could have worded things a little better."

"No, Max, you're right. I just don't want to think that's a possibility, that's all."

"You know, from the short time we have known each other, I can already see you are going to grow up to be a fine young man."

"Thank you," I said, wearing a much-needed smile.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Max parked the van up outside the house and helped me out onto the sidewalk.

"You know, it really would have been a good idea to have given you some crutches. I’m not sure why the Doctor didn't want to."

"Yeah, well, a little late now, and it is feeling better as the days go by."

"Hmm, well, let's get inside. Do you need some pain relief?"

"Yes, please, Max."

As we got in, Susan came straight to the door, obviously wanting news. Max started to explain before telling her I needed to take some pills. Susan informed us both that dinner was going to be late due to her forgetting to put the oven on."

"Pizza?" Max said, grinning at her mistake.

"Well, the oven is on now... oh Max, how could I've been so stupid," she said, getting stressed.

"Honey, relax; it’s not a big issue. Look, if you still want to cook, then fine, but I am happy to order in for us. Puppy? Do you want Tramadol or just Ibuprofen?"

"He's already had Tramadol today Max," Susan declared, taking the box from Max's hand. "And they make his heart race, as well as his mouth. I don't like them."

Max winked at me, holding up two Tramadol pills in his hand that he'd stealthily taken from the packet. I grinned and put my thumbs up at him. Okay, so they made me a little weird, but they were awesome tablets and certainly did a better job than Susan's alternative of Ibuprofen.

I left Max to deal with a rather uptight Susan and headed for my bedroom. I closed my eyes and prayed Dave was still here, but Max and I had been gone almost an hour, and I knew that Dave had previously had to get back quite soon after arriving.

As I got to the top of the stairs, the door was closed, giving me some hope. But that was dashed as I went in and found Steven asleep on his bed.

Damn!

I tried to be as quiet as I could, but he must have been lightly snoozing because his eyes opened just as I sat down on my bed.

"Pleebhead, how was the kid prison?"

"I like you better when you sleep. It’s quieter," I replied, leaning forward and unstrapping my support boot.

"I brought Dave home for you, and you split on us. Of course, he wasn't happy about that," Steven said teasingly before tutting.

"Fuck you, Steven. I am not in the mood."

"Oooh, what's eating you?"

"Nothing, I'm just pissed off, and in quite a bit of pain, that's all."

Steven jumped off his bed and came and knelt in front of me, placing his hands on my knees. "Is it your foot? Here let me help you with that strap... I'm sorry I teased you. That wound must be giving you hell."

I let Steven take off my boot and massage my ankle as I imagined he had seen me do to myself several times. "Thanks for laying me off. I’m sorry I snapped at you. It’s been a rough afternoon."

"No worries, sometimes I joke around too much. I didn't know you were in pain. When my dad beat me, I used to find trying to take myself to a nice place helped with my pain. But everyone is different, I guess."

"It’s fine; Max has sorted me out some meds that I can take. Thank you, though."

Steven then did something that will stay with me forever. He got to his feet and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into a hug. I sat there shocked for a few seconds before putting my arms around him, nestling my chin in his shoulder blade.

"Feel better?" he asked, the vibration of his voice against my face somehow comforting.

"Yeah, I do."

"Hey, I got you some water with these pi... whoa, bromance, it's a beautiful thing," Max said, eyeing our embrace. Steven let go and went back to his bed, probably a little embarrassed Max had seen us. But that was okay.

It's a guy thing, right?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


With Dinner done, Steven and I had retired to our bedroom. My painkillers had kicked in a while ago, and I was feeling much better. A little woozy and spaced out, I was rabbiting on to Steven about Dave again, and he was patiently listening.

"Has anyone ever told you, you talk some real shit when you are on those pills?"

"Ha-ha, yeah, your mum actually. But listen, I've not finished yet. I wanna know more about Dave."

"Mushhead, I've told you everything. You have cleaned me out in the knowledge of Dave department, so give it a rest."

I tipped back on my bed, laughing before slipping off the side and falling to the floor with a thud.

"Boys, I hope you are not fighting up there?" Susan hollered from downstairs.

"No, Mum, just Jensen being an ass."

"Language! Just behave up there, both of you."

"I can't believe I got half the blame for you being a bonehead. Look at the state of you."

"Meeheehee hahaha, oh shit, I feel great!" I got back up onto my feet and went over to Steven's bed. "Now, I wanna know what you said to him today. Yeah, I remember now. I got a text. It was from him, right?" I asked, poking him on the chest.

"Text, what text?"

"Dave, he sent me a text saying I like you too... hang on, I'll get my phone and show you."

I limped around his bed and pulled out my phone from under my pillow, and tossed it to him. Steven picked it up and went into my messages.

"Yeah, that's his number, but he didn't mention to me that he's text you."

"But you must have told him I liked him, right? Cos... cos why would he send that?"

"Jesus, you sound drunk!"

"Whatever... so, what did you say?"

"Nothing really. He brought you up, and I said you had the hots for him. It was just a passing comment."

"You know, if I felt normal, I would probably slap you for that."

"Oh, C'mon, you're glad I did, though, right? It got you a nice text after all."

I grinned playfully. "I might be."

"Dunno why he didn't mention it to me, though."

"What?"

"About the text... he never told me that he had sent it to you."

I rolled my eyes. "And you say I'm stupid."

"Huh?"

"Think about it, Steven... he has never admitted to you, Jessie or Billy that he likes guys, right?"

"No, but then I didn't expect he would. He’s shy about a lot of things."

"Well then, so why would he tell you about the text? That's like admitting he is into guys after denying it all this time."

"Fuck me. It’s the first thing you have said since I met you that actually makes sense."

"Ha, well, you taught me everything I know. Oh, and while we are on the topic of Dave, you need to remember that it is you who keeps trying to get us together, so you can't blame me if I go on about him to you."

"Yes, I've been kicking myself about that. It was a fucking mistake. It's like I am being constantly raped in both ears by you."

"Oh shut up, I'm not that bad."

Steven pulled at his hair. "Oh... you are!"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"No... no wait...no...NOOOOO!!!"

"... Jensen... JENSEN!"

"Shi...shit, fuck... Steven?"

I opened my eyes seeing Steven was crouched down by my bed, his hand on my arm. Just then, the door to our room opened, and Susan came in and switched on the light, blinding us all.

"What's happened? Is everything okay in here?"

"Jensen had a nightmare mum, its fine."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake everyone up."

Susan came and sat down on my bed and stroked my hair. "Aww, honey, that's okay, I'm sorry you had a bad dream... gosh, you are soaked."

"Do you remember what it was about?"

"Yeah, I used to have the same dream quite often; it was Brian shooting my mum, but then he always shot me afterwards. It was weird.

Haven’t had it for ages; I thought it had gone away." I said as a tear rolled down my face.

"Mum, you go back to bed. I’ll keep an eye on Jensen," Steven said.

"Are you sure you will be okay, Button? I can stay for a while if you want me to?"

"No, it’s fine Susan, I'm sorry I woke you."

Susan gave me a gentle smile and got up from my bed. She turned out the light leaving the room back in the usual hue of Steven's lamplight. Steven got up, went to his bottom drawer, and took out a towel before passing it to me. I wiped my sweaty body over with it, including my face.

"Do you need a shower?"

"I'll be fine until the morning, but do you have some spray?"

"Sure," he replied, pulling a bottle out from under his bed. I sprayed my armpits and neck before handing the bottle back to him. "Are you gonna be okay?"

"I think so. It just freaks me out for a while after."

I turned over onto my side facing the wall, and I heard Steven's bedsprings creak as he got back in bed himself. There was a brief moment of silence before I heard him sigh. I could then hear him moving about again before something almost freaked me out again.

"Whoa, what are you doing?" I asked as I turned my head to see his pillow being laid half on top of mine. Without saying anything, he climbed into my bed and placed his arm around my chest.

He let a long breath escape his mouth. "Try and get back to sleep. You’re safe."

I pulled his arm in tight to my chest, feeling indeed safer as I held on to his muscular bicep and felt the warm air of his breath on the back of my neck.

"Thanks," I whispered, closing my eyes, trying to get my mind off the biggest erection of my life.

"You're welcome, douche bag!"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Steven woke me up early to offer his services in the shower. I really did need a shower after last night's nightmare and subsequent penis leakage, so I took him up on the offer. As usual, it was a rather comical event, but this time, Steven actually got in the shower with me, much to my surprise.

"Keep your eyes off my junk and get washed," he said as I eyed his morning semi. He soaped up the sponge and washed down my back while I steadied myself against the wall before he held onto me so I could do the rest of my body. I was rock hard. It was inevitable, but Steven didn't seem to be bothered by it, thank god.

"Sorry," I said as I turned in his direction, giving him a full view of my stiff dick.

"Just get it over with if you have to, better in here rather than messing yourself up in the bedroom."

"Are you sure?" I whispered, feeling fucking horny.

Steven let go of me so he could start washing himself, and I took care of myself. I worked it hard and fast until I came up against the tiles.

"Oh gross," Steven blurted as a couple of drops fell onto his foot.

"Whoops, sorry," I replied, getting my breath back.

"Maybe I should have got out first."

I laughed and squeezed the last few drops out of my now deflating dick.

"Phew!"

"Feel better? Looks like you needed that."

"Yeah, much better, thanks."

"Cool, well, I'll help you out, and then I need to get ready for school. Here, give me your arm."

"Steven stepped out of the bath after turning the shower off and helped me out onto the floor. I sat down on the stool and started to dry myself while he went and squeezed a spot in the mirror, his ass on show to me.

"And you say I'm gross," I said, watching a spray of yellow puss hit the mirror.

"It's been brewing a while that one... fuck that stung!"

He took some antibacterial toner out of the vanity drawer. He poured some onto a cotton pad before wiping his face over with it, paying particular attention to the now bleeding spot he had popped.

"You do that every day?" I asked.

"Yep, the joys of being a teenager... it's just part of my routine in the mornings now."

"Uh-huh. Could you pass me my clean underwear, please?" I asked as I stood up and dropped the towel to the floor. Once they were on

I wrapped the towel back around me and left Steven in the bathroom to do... well, whatever he did each morning.

After I had got dressed, I wandered downstairs to the smell of Bacon invading my nostrils. As I entered the kitchen, I saw Susan crisping the rashers in a frying pan and surprisingly Max, who was sitting at the table in jeans and a jumper reading the morning paper.

"What are you doing here," I asked.

"Puppy, I live here," Max replied, grinning at me.

"No, I mean, why aren't you at work?"

"You hear that Susan, I think I have a new boss. It was nice having you for all those years."

Susan turned around and laughed. "Prepare yourself, Max, I heard this one is a real slave driver."

Max Chucked. "Actually, Mister, I'm here because we need to get your dressing changed, and YOU have a date with the needle."

"Ooooh reeeaally?" I whined. "I thought you had forgotten about that?"

"I almost did until Susan reminded me we are a day late in getting that bandaged redone."

"I would have taken you myself, Button, but I need to see the school today about Steven. Oh, which reminds me, I'll have a chat about you enrolling."

"Is Steven in trouble?"

"Oh no, I to do this three times a year Puppy, it's so that parents know how their children are doing as the year goes on. Steven will be taking his exams this year, so it's an important time. I'll be doing the same for you as well soon, I imagine."

"I see. So will I have to take exams?"

"You sure will, and I know you will do fine Puppy. You have a keen mind. I can't wait to see what they say about your maths abilities. Hey Max, remember I was telling you about Puppy's maths brain?"

"Yeah, I remember. Susan tells me you are quite the whizz kid Puppy,"

"Not really. I just know how to do numbers; it’s quite easy, really."

"Oh Max, he is so modest... here, take this calculator and watch this." Susan handed the device to Max. "Okay, let’s pick a hard one...hmm, okay what iiiisss four hundred and fifty five times twenty three?"

I looked at the ceiling and started to calculate the sum in my head. "Okay, it should be, erm... ten thousand four hundred and sixty five."

"Is he right, Max?"

Max's eyes went wide as he hit the equals' button on the calculator. "Wow, that is crazy... how do you know that... and so quickly?"

I shrugged. "It's straightforward, I round everything up or down, or I separate the sum into two parts. So I do four hundred times twenty and then fifty five times three and then add them together. Or if it is a little smaller, I just round the whole figure up and then subtract the rest."

"You've lost me... but I will say that I would have a hard time with four hundred times twenty," Max declared, sniggering.

"Multiplication really is as easy as adding and subtracting. Division is slightly harder, but I like a challenge."

"I can't wait to get you into school," Susan said, clapping her hands.

"And I can't wait to leave," Steven added, walking into the kitchen now dressed in his school uniform.

"Morning, Honey, bacon and eggs or bacon sandwich?"

"Bacon and eggs please," replied Steven, sitting at the table. "Dad, why are you here?"

Max rolled his eyes. "Not you as well!"

"Your father is taking Puppy to the hospital to get his dressing changed and have a blood test. I am going to the school to see how you are doing."

"Please don't hug me if you see me. It’s; really embarrassing."

"Aww, don't you love mummy anymore," she teased, turning her lips down.

"Bite me!"

Susan went back to the bacon and turned off the pan before dabbing the pieces with kitchen towel to remove the grease. While they were draining, she took two eggs that Annie and Clarabelle had produced and cracked them both open at once, one in each hand.

"Wow, how do you do that?"

"Years of practice," she said. "Looking after two men in the home, things need to be done fast."

"Yeah, good job, we didn't get another man," Steven teased, cupping my neck and shoving me forward. I just rolled my eyes.

Susan placed some eggs on a plate and pulled off three strips of bacon, placing the breakfast in front of Steven, who then made short work of it.

"You're an animal," I remarked, watching him eat the lot in a little under two minutes.

"That's what all the girls say."

"C'mon, Puppy, let's leave Steven to his fantasies and head out."

"Max, the poor boy hasn't had any breakfast yet."

"Blood test?" he said, giving her a tilted head look.

"Oh, right, okay, well make sure you feed him when it's done."

"I think I can manage that, C'mon son, let's go."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Down at the hospital, I sat patiently in the waiting area while Max went to see what was going on. We had been here for two hours now, and I had neither my blood test done nor my dressing changed. Looking to the side of me, I found a host of magazines that were very much out of date, but with complete boredom now consuming me, I picked up one and flicked through the pages.

"This is a joke," Max barked. I looked up and saw him approach me.

"Still nothing?"

"They have a backlog of patients to get through, but we should be seen soon, I'm told, but then again, they said that last-"

"Jensen Stibbings?" Came the the voice of a nurse standing just outside the entrance to a room.

"At last, Max said," an irritated tone in his voice. "Does someone have to die to get seen in this place?" he rebuked the nurse.

"I am very sorry, Sir, we have had a busy morning. Thank you for your patience."

Max didn't respond. He just followed the nurse into the room and pulled out a chair for me.

"So we will be dressing your foot today, yes, Jensen?" The nurse asked. I nodded. "Hmm, I can see from your records this was a nasty accident involving a nail... sounds painful. So how has that pain been?"

"It's okay sometimes, but sometimes it hurts a lot."

"Okay, well, you have been fearless. So what I'll do is clean up the wound again and then place a special cream on it, which contains a numbing agent. This will last up to a week and will also aid the healing process."

"How long until it heals so he can put a shoe back on?" Max asked.

"I won't know until I get a look at the foot. People his age are good healers, so I would expect to see healing well underway. Jensen, if you could hop onto the bed for me and roll up your trouser leg?"

"Okay," I replied, getting up and doing as she asked. The nurse started to unstrap my boot before removing it and looking at the bandage.

"Hmm, I can see some discolouration of the dressing, which says this has been bleeding. Have you been making full use of your crutches Jensen, making sure you don't put pressure on the wound?"

"I wasn't given any; the Doctor said I needed pressure on it." The nurse looked at me strangely.

"You were not given any crutches?"

"Nope," Max interjected. "Are you now going to tell me he should have had some?"

"Well, we do recommend that pressure is put back down on the foot after a couple of weeks to aid circulation, but in the initial stages, crutches really should have been used as the wound is fresh and prone to bleed if too much pressure is applied on it."

"I don't believe I'm hearing this... what kind of Doctors are you letting work here?"

"Let's not be too worried yet... Mr Chase, isn't it, right?"

"Yes."

"Let's not be too worried until I get the dressing off and see how things are doing."

The nurse's attention went from Max back to my bandage, and she slowly started to unwrap it. As the layers came off, I could see the dressing was becoming redder as signs of blood were clear to see. Finally, the old dressing was off, and the nurse pulled back the old blood-stained gauze.

"Hmm, there have been signs of moderate bleeding, but the wound seems to have clotted nicely now."

She took some tweezers and drenched a cotton wool swab in some clear liquid before gently wiping around the cut. As the dry blood soaked into the wool, I could now see the wound a little better.

"Looks okay on the top," she commented, a concentrated tone in her voice. Shen then bent down to look at the bottom. "Ahh, now this looks a little better than I expected. Okay, let me clean this up and apply the cream. I think this should be the last dressing Mr Chase and then we can replace that with a plaster which will allow more air to get to it."

"Thanks," Said Max, still a little annoyed.

"I see you are taking Tramadol, Jensen?"

"Yes."

"I want you to come off those now and continue with standard pain relief, continued Morphine is not good for you, and I suspect that taking Tramadol is probably a little overkill now at this stage of the healing."

I just nodded, and the nurse went to work on cleaning up my foot. She applied the cream she mentioned, replaced the gauze and redressed my whole foot tightly, causing me to yelp in pain a few times.

"That actually hurts," I said, huffing,

"You'll live," the nurse replied, pressing her lips together. "Would you like a lollypop for being so brave," she added, giggling.

"Don't patronise me," I said, smiling.

"Okay, young man, you are good to go. I will have some crutches issued to you, and you can be on your way.

"Thank you," Max said. "It's nice that someone around here knows what they are doing."

"Yes, I'm sorry about that, Mr Chase. I’ll have a chat with the Doctor and see why he felt it necessary not to issue crutches. Would you like me to call you?"

"Is there any point? It’s done now; we can't go back and fix it."

"Okay, well, I'll issue some feedback, and hopefully, he won't make the same mistake again."

"So it was a mistake then?" Max asked.

"Well, it was an unusual course of action to take with Jensen's type of injury. But, without knowing the details of the initial visit, I'm not sure why it was taken."

"As long as he will be okay, I don't care."

"He'll be fine, Mr Chase, the lack of crutches may have added a couple of days to the healing process but nothing serious. Jensen obviously knows how to cope with it using just the support boot."

Max helped me down from the bed, and we left the room as the nurse called in her next patient.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

So how are you feeling? Max asked as we drove home.

"A little green from that needle, but otherwise okay I feel better after eating that much, is certain."

"Yeah, you do look a little pale... here, have a few mouthfuls of this cola, put some sugar back in your system." Max pulled a bottle out from the side pocket of the car and handed it to me. I took four healthy gulps and handed it back, pulling a face.

"God, how long has that been sitting there?"

"Dunno, a few days," he said, laughing at the look on my face.

"It's flat."

"Hmmmm, flat cola, my favourite."

"You're strange."

As we pulled into the driveway, I noticed that Susan's car was gone, indicating that she was still out. Max switched off the engine and got out before opening my door for me. He then pulled my crutches from the back seat and held them out.

"Wanna take them for a spin?" he asked.

"These are gonna take some getting used to. I almost fell over twice coming out of the hospital."

"Yes, I did catch you, remember?"

"Okay," I sighed. "let's have another go."

I heaved myself out of the car and took hold of the crutches as Max steadied me. He then let go and walked to the front door and pushed it open wide, giving me maximum space and less chance of hurting myself on the door.

"I'll put the heating on. Do you want a drink?"

"After your cola? Yes, please."

Max chucked and disappeared into the kitchen. I managed to close the door with ease and followed him through.

"How long do you think it will be until Dr Burrows has my results?"

"From the blood test? Hmm, dunno, Puppy, a few days, I guess. But from my experience, if he doesn't call, then everything is normal."

"Better hope he doesn't then," I muttered, falling into a seat at the kitchen table and letting my crutches drop to the floor. "So, will you be going back to work?"

"I'm afraid so Puppy, in about ten minutes. We have so much work at the moment, and I've had to take some time off, as you know. I need to work whenever I can right now because as winter comes, things slow down a bit, so Susan and I need to have excess money in the bank to see us through the lean months. It's always been like that, which is why you see me doing such long hours. But, you'll see more of me around November time."

"I don't suppose I am helping that excess, am I?"

"Puppy, why would you think that? I would work every hour god sends to make sure you are happy and here with us. And for your information having you here is not affecting anything financial. I work long hours so the four of us can have nice things... it's a want, not a need Puppy, remember that. I could do a lot less work if I chose to, and we would still be fine, but I want you, Steven and Susan to have the life I never did, so don't you be going worrying about money, okay?"

"Sure, sorry. Anyway, it was none of my business. You didn't have to tell me all that."

"No secrets in this house, Puppy, no secrets. That's how I've always wanted it, and I say the same to Steven as well. A good family is honest with each other otherwise, trust is eroded. So if you ever wanna know anything about me, I'll always give you an honest answer even if it's about the damn finances," he stated, laughing.

Max placed a drink in front of me and then announced he would get his work gear on. Leaving me the kitchen, I stared out of the window, dreading how quiet the place was going to be when he went. This was going to be the first time I had been all alone in the history of my young Sixteen year life.

Wow!


 

Copyright © 2021 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

I am also very suspicious of Greenstone and what has happened to Cindy. I am quite concerned about and for her.  I’m glad Listern is gone, but does this mean he is pulling the same garbage somewhere else?

I said before that Puppy has won the family lottery.  First Susan, and then Max, don’t even flinch an eye when it is revealed that Puppy is gay.  Steven doesn’t count, because most kids in his generation respond the way he did.

I am quite annoyed at that surgeon.  “Oh, no! You don’t need crutches.  Just pretend you haven’t injured your foot or you can hop around on one leg!”  I’m glad the nurse is going to reprimand him, politely.  She seems to more of a Physician’s Assistant than an RN, actually.  She seems to have enough authority to give medical orders without getting approval from a supervising MD.

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Well I will echo everyone else's concerns about Greenstone - something does not smell right!!  Puppy does not get a break with a good doctor - I mean its obvious he should have been issued crutches !! 

As a side note James - you used one of my favorite words "dithering" which is rarely used!  I love it!!!  Thank you for a wonderful story !!

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