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Puppy for Sale - 3. All About the Chase

I sat opposite Mr Watson, watching his face intently. He was looking at me, biting his bottom lip. It was like those times when someone wanted to tell you something but didn't know where to begin or didn't know whether they should say anything at all. The man had been silent ever since he said he had some news I would like. Was he waiting for me to ask more questions? Was he gauging my reaction?

I'd had good news before, only for it to crash and burn because these days, the only information I considered good anymore was the kind that had the words, new parents, in it, and we all know how that ends, seeing as I'm still here.

I was now growing impatient!

"Would you like to give me a clue, sir?"

"Sorry, Puppy, I'm just very aware of your potential reaction when I begin."

"Can I just ask then, have you found me some new parents?"

"Hmm, something like that, but this is slightly different. You see, early this morning, I had a telephone call from a gentleman called Max Chase asking if we had a Jensen living here. Does that name mean anything to you?"

I thought about the name hard, tilting my head diagonally and pouting my lips. I wanted that name to mean something, I wanted any name to mean something, but nothing was coming to mind, no picture in my head, no memory, nothing.

"Sorry no, sir, that name means nothing to me."

"Hmm, Look Puppy, I can't verify the authenticity of a person by one phone call alone, but he asked for you as Jensen Chase, which only leaves me to one conclusion."

My eyes grew wide. "Jensen Chase?"

"Yes, Puppy, Jensen Chase... and I think I had that same look when he said that name to me."

"Are you saying what I think you’re saying?"

"That's he is your natural father?" Mr Watson took a deep breath and sighed. "I might be, Puppy, but look, we need to delve into this in more detail. I wanted to give you the news now because I don't want you to think we are hiding anything from you...God knows you have had enough letdowns in your life." He finished, talking more to himself on the last sentence. "I almost thought about not telling you to be honest, just in case, well_."

"He's a fraud?"

"I don't personally think he is. He sounded sincere and hopeful."

I felt a buzzing feeling journey through my body, and I wanted to pinch myself to see if I was awake. I mean, this was about as far away from anything I ever expected, walking up here."

"So when...I mean, what happens now, is that it, I mean did this guy just call and that's it, or..." I asked, starting to get excited and fidgety in my chair.

"We have to be very careful here Puppy, first of all, we need to establish who this man is and_."

"What do you mean who he is?" I snapped. "You just said he was sincere and hopeful, right?"

"Yes, I know, but Puppy, he could still be anyone; I can't take the risk of just taking a faceless man's word on something as big as this."

"I know, I'm sorry, this is all just a little overwhelming for me; I never knew...I never knew...I mean, my father is dead; this has got to be a wind-up: God, so many thoughts in my head. I just feel something is... I dunno, like it feels, right? Jesus, I just need to know!"

"I know Puppy, and you have my word. I will keep you up to date with what we find out."

"Did he erm...did he ask to speak to me?"

Mr Watson paused for a moment. "Puppy, he asked to meet you, and you know I can't let that happen at least until_"

"He asked to meet me, and you said no?" I asked, now perplexed.

"Puppy, you need to understand the problem here, the world is not a safe place, and that worries me so much because you have grown up in a bubble. Not everyone is genuine like the people in this home... the staff, your friends...; it's not like that outside."

"But he could be my father and_."

Mr Watson cut me off. "Puppy, he is not your father until it’s proven he is, and your welfare is my priority, now please, I know this is a lot to take in but let me and my staff do some checks and as I said, I will keep you informed." I sat there and just stared at Mr Watson, his reasoning just bouncing off me.

"Can I go now?" I asked, starting to feel angry once again.

"Yes, you can go Puppy, but I don't want this to consume you; you are doing well at the moment, and that needs to carry on if there is any hope of you leaving here, understand?"

"Yeah, I got it," I huffed, getting up from my seat.

Lunch was being served, and I left my room to join the other kids in the eating area. Cindy came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder while balancing a tray in her hand.

"What's up Puppy, I came by your room, and you weren't there."

"I was in the garden; I needed to think."

"How did your meeting with the home director go? I thought you would have come and told me?"

"Can we talk about it later?" I said, dropping my head down.

"Sure, whatever you want, but are you ok?"

"I said, can we not talk about it."

Cindy rolled her eyes and placed her tray on the table before sitting down opposite me. I knew what she was like when it came to me not wanting to talk. She would just keep bringing it up until I cracked and told her, so I took a bite out of the apple I'd got earlier and looked up at her.

"I think my real dad has found me," I said softly. "But I dunno how that's even possible!"

"Your real dad?" Cindy yelled, reeling her neck back. "But...but Puppy, your dad, is_."

"Dead? Yeah, I know," I replied, looking at her directly!

Cindy looked off into the distance as if in deep thought. I saw her lips say something silently as she zoned out.

"This uh...this guy! So can they like do a test or something?"

I shrugged. "I dunno"

"Puppy, that's just crazy news" She shook her head.

"Unreal, yeah, I know."

"So...so how do you feel?"

"All over the place, so many questions Cindy, I can't get my head around it all."

"I mean, how do you feel knowing or thinking your real dad exists?"

"Same answer Cindy, all over the place. I wanna know so much, why he left and why he came looking for me now; I mean, I know nothing about this guy, not a thing, no one has ever told me anything about him."

"It sounds frustrating, Puppy; I’m sorry."

I sighed. "Well, it would be the sick joke of the century if he was some kind of fraudster. So I can only assume he thinks he has a missing son."

Cindy started to eat her food slowly, keeping her eyes locked on me. I placed my apple core on the side of her tray and leaned back in my chair.

"Blimey, this is such a mystery", Cindy muttered between chewing.

"It is Cindy! I spent so much of my life thinking the guy that killed my mum was my dad, and then when I found out he might not be, I thought about who my real dad could be and...and, argh god, it's just such a mess, Cindy."

"Has he asked to meet you?"

"Yeah, and he was told he couldn't."

"But why?" Cindy asked that same surprised look on her face I had in Watson's office.

"Mr Watson said it was because he might be lying and stuff. I don't understand what the fuss is about, but he seems to be worried about it."

"But why would someone make that stuff up? But then again, Watson is right that he needs to provide evidence, and I'm not sure what that might be."

"I don't know Cindy; as I said, it feels such a mess. But Watson did say he asked for Jensen Chase, which makes me think it must be real because hardly anyone calls me Jensen anymore and who knows I live here?"

"Family?" Cindy asked, tilting her head slightly.

"I don't know any family, and it’s not like anyone has ever come to visit me or anything. So up until today, I didn't know anyone from outside Greenstone knew I existed."

"Hmm, so what happens now then?"

"Dunno, Watson said he would keep me updated with news, but it's ripping me apart, not knowing what the hell is going on with this. Part of me wishes he had never told me"

"Aww puppy, don't say that, whatever happens, you know there is someone out there who wants to meet you."

"Yeah, and I wonder if that will still be the case when he finds out about my medical history and behavioural problems."

"Well, if he is your real dad, then I think he should accept you for whoever you are."

Bless Cindy, she was always the optimist, and as I looked around the room at all the kids with no parents, I suddenly realised that actually, I was the only one who might just have a parent who wants to know me...hell, might even care about me.

I picked up my apple core and started twirling it in my hands, feeling restless. Cindy pulled it from my fingers and placed it on her now empty plate, and smiled. The eating area was full of activity with kids of all ages tucking into their lunch. Greenstone had around forty children living in it with about space for another ten. I remember the place a few years back when there were only around fifteen children here. At that time, it felt like as soon as a child came in, they were finding new parents except for me, who remained here trying to sound happy for the people who were leaving each week. Selfishly, I felt jealous of every one of them.

The older I got, the fewer people I spoke to. Most were not capable of holding a conversation anyway simply because of their age, and some, well some just bored the hell out of me to the point where I had to walk away. Maybe it was me; perhaps I just wasn't a very social person. There was something different about Cindy, though, and when it came to her, I got scared when I thought of being without her. She was my emotional support to an otherwise chronic loner. I had no ties to anyone else like her, and I wondered what the future held when I let my mind wander into thoughts of life after Greenstone.

If that day ever came!

 

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

 

Greenstone was built in eighteen ninety-seven by a man named Lord Deseer Mountbatten. A wealthy landowner in England, he put his name to many fine buildings in his lifetime but none he thought so special as his Greenstone masterpiece. A self-confessed architect with no formal training, he built his houses for the love of his many mistresses.

As you can probably tell, the History of Greenstone was taught to us as we lived in the home. Deseer was a man full of love, he loved women, but most of all, he loved children, especially children who had no love themselves. So close to his death in nineteen twelve, he gifted the house to the townspeople to give children a home that had lost their parents. It was his final act of love before he died.

I grew up wanting to know more about Deseer Mountbatten; as to me, he was a legend, a selfless soul who gave back to the community far more than he took. I fantasied about him being my own father and how we would go fishing together down by the old lake at the bottom of the estate. Deseer was every child's dream in a father, and that's what made Greenstone close to my heart.

Saying that, I longed to get out of here, not because I was unhappy with the place in general, but because I just wanted to feel like an average child before adulthood took its place in my life. I wanted to learn about the outside world, get loving hugs from parents and play football in the streets with friends as I saw on TV. Only now was it that I saw a glimmer of hope coming in the way of a man who claimed to be my father. But, dark thoughts would enter my mind at not a moment's notice, telling me that he would never want to have someone like me, that it was just a curiosity fad with him, and that when he saw me and got it out of his system, he would be off again doing his thing and living his life.

Those thoughts among the hope were pure gut-wrenching!

"Knock knock," came the voice of Cindy outside my bedroom door.

"You may enter at your own risk," I said in a scary voice before giggling. Then, I heard the door click, and Cindy walked in wearing her trademark jeans and a baggy t-shirt.

"Well, someone is in a chirpy mood," she said, flinging herself on my bed next to me, making my body bounce in the air.

"Not really, just a better mood than normal, I suppose."

"Hmm, well, I've seen all of your moods, and this is a good one compared to most, I'll agree."

"Cindy, I need to ask you something."

"What's that Puppy," she said, resting her head against the wall. "Is everything ok?"

" I just...well, I want to know how you would feel if I ever left this place."

Cindy sat back up and went into a thoughtful mode, and I watched as invisible cogs turned in her brain. I knew whatever came out of her mouth would be the truth; it always was, but how much of what she was feeling maybe I would never understand.

I heard her sigh gently. "You know Puppy, if this call from your dad turns into something perfect and you eventually leave Greenstone, I will be very happy for you because I know how long you have been here and how many times your dreams have been crushed. I know how much it means to you to be able to live a normal family life."

"But?" I said, knowing there was one.

She cleared her throat. "But, if I was selfish, the truth is I will be devastated because I can't imagine being here without you; you get me?"

Hearing her say that made me want to cry. If it weren't for the stupid drugs I was on, I probably would have been able to, but since taking these pills, I have been void of most raw emotions apart from laughter and anger; it was a strange feeling when I concentrated on it intensely.

"I guess there can be no winners from my situation Cindy," I mused.

"Yes, there can Puppy; you need to do what's right for you and be happy. If your dad is serious about contacting you, then you need to grab that with both hands and hold on tight; you may not get another opportunity."

"I know Cindy, but what if he's an asshole, you know? I mean, he did leave me in the first place, and it has taken him god knows how long to attempt to contact me."

"You need to find out the background first Puppy, you don't know why he left, and if he even knew you were alive all those years, I mean, how or where would he have known where to start looking?"

"I dunno, that's what I mean; there are so many unanswered questions that I just want to know now."

"In good time, Puppy, he has made contact with the home; it must be important to him otherwise, why would he bother? I don't think he is just going to walk away without speaking to you."

"I hope not; even if he is an asshole, there are still lots of things I would like to know so I can at least have peace of mind."

"So be patient; as Mr Watson said, he will keep you updated, right?"

"Yeah, I know, easier said than done."

"Most things are Puppy. Say, is that a new poster?" Cindy asked, referring to my picture of the Grand Canyon I had pinned on my wall.

"Yeah, I got it today; I traded it."

"For what?" She asked inquisitively.

"A pack of Haribos and some mints," I said with a grin.

"Wow, the black market in this place is thriving," Cindy said, sarcasm oozing from her words.

"Hey, it was a good trade; that poster will last forever; the guy I got it from has probably eaten the sweets already."

"Who was it?"

"The boy?"

"Yeah."

"Billy Jones, the boy who was gonna be in our class the other day until you_."

"Oh him, so he spoke to you?"

"Yeah, he's a little shy, but he's real nice. I don't know about his sister though I didn't see her."

"Was he in your room?"

"No, I saw him in the gardens; he was sitting on a wall reading some book on deserts; I got talking to him and said I would love to visit the Grand Canyon, and he told me about the poster."

"Oh, I see...so did you find out anything?"

"Like what?"

"Like why they are here?"

"No, he didn't say anything about it; I didn't wanna ask anyway just in case it was a horrible situation."

"Aww, Puppy, I really want to know," Cindy whined, always the lover of home gossip.

I shrugged. "Well, why don't you ask him when you see him around?"

"Me, oh dear no, I don't want to get a reputation as a_"

"Gossip?" I said before laughing. "Cindy, c'mon now, we all know you have that reputation already; just ask Charlotte Grange."

"I think she hates me; she would think that."

"Charlotte is Charlotte; you know that, and I'm sure she doesn't hate you."

"Hmm, well, whatever you say. So, you wanna play a game or something?"

"Like what?"

"I dunno, snap?"

"Not really; I got too much stuff swimming around in my mind. Why don't you put the TV on or something? Maybe there is a movie showing?"

"Cindy shrugged and pulled my remote control from the window sill, turning on the TV. As she flicked through the channels, I went to the bathroom and relieved my bladder. When I came back out, she had gotten under the covers of my bed, making herself quite at home.

"You know if one of the staff finds you in my bed, they are gonna freak, Cindy."

"Let'em, I'm cold, and besides, what have they got to freak about its not like we are doing anything."

"Doing anything? Like what?"

"Sexy stuff, you know, like on TV."

"Aww gross, yeah, we certainly ain’t."

Cindy laughed. "Ha, your face, that was funny."

"Just move over so I can at least sit on my bed," I stated, unimpressed.

She stuck her tongue out before shifting over to the side. I climbed on next to her and waited until she had settled on a programme.

 

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

 

The following day I found myself in Mr Watson's office again after he had called for me. Although Watson was not there yet, I was sitting with Charlotte Grange, who was in charge of the Children's general needs. Another man in the room was Stuart Gentry, who took care of our files and was responsible for vetting parents. In the corner of the room on his own was Doctor Listern, the home behavioural specialist and Doctor. He was already taking notes down on a pad, and the very act of that was making me nervous.

I sat in silence while Charlotte and Stuart chatted. Doctor Listern said nothing and just smiled when I happened to look in his direction. Something was worrying me about this meeting; I don't know exactly; I just had a bad feeling about it.

Pulling me from my thoughts, the door clicked and in walked Mr Watson followed by my general Doctor, Sam Stillworth. There were now five people in the room, all there I assumed to talk about me and to me. It was very scary. Mr Watson took his place behind his desk, and Sam pulled out a spare chair from the utility room, which joined on to Watson's office.

"Ok, so thank you all for joining me today and to you, especially Puppy; I know you are probably wondering why I have asked you here, and we will not keep you in suspense too long, I promise." Mr Watson said, forming a light smile. "I want to start by saying the purpose of this meeting is to evaluate the findings of Mr Max Chase's assumption he is the father of Puppy Stibbs. Now I have had a telephone call with Mr Chase since we last spoke Puppy, and I have said that to verify his identity in the fastest and least stressful way to you is through a DNA test."

"A DN what?" I asked, confused.

Mr Watson and some of the others lightly chuckled. "Puppy, it's a simple test that will tell us if Mr Chase is your father. It is swift and pain-free, but I need to ask you whether you wish to go ahead with it. There is no pressure on you to do this, and it is entirely your choice."

"I um, well I guess that would be ok and uh... painless you say?"

"Oh yes, Puppy, all we need to do is take a scraping from inside your cheek with a cotton wool bud, and that's it," Sam Stillworth added.

"Is he gonna take the test...I mean my da...Max?" I asked, swallowing hard.

"Yes, Puppy, he has agreed to do that," Watson replied. "Now I want to pass over to Stuart, who will be able to tell you some information about this man Puppy, after which you can ask any questions you like, ok?"

I nodded the affirmative and suddenly felt uneasy again about what would be revealed if anything. I turned my attention to Stuart and prepared myself.

"Right Puppy, so I have gathered some information on Max Chase and created a file. You can look at this file whenever you want if you forget anything of what is said today. The information I have is based on Mr Watson's two telephone calls to Max and several different searches I have done with the assistance of local council and government databases, including child protection."

"Ok, sounds complicated."

Stuart chuckled. "Not really Puppy, the information is easy to come by once to get the permission to search, and the welfare people take your safety very seriously, so it's in everyone's best interests that this information be available to all of us."

"So tell me what you know," I said, just wanting him to get to the detail.

Copyright © 2021 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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I especially loved the conversation between Puppy and Cindy.  That would be the hardest part of living in an orphanage - the inability to form lasting relationships.  Now on to the next chapter!

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Cindy is going to feel lost if Puppy leaves. He's going to find it hard adjusting to the outside world, when his only real experience of it is through TV. 

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The DNA will authenticate Max as the biological father but many questions will remain as to why he was not in his life until now!  Great story James - I have great empathy for "Puppy" !

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