Interesting Times
Chapter 02

Copyright© 2011 by Ernest Bywater. All rights reserved

Tuesday

The next morning Joe and Alice arrive with fresh clothes for Mary, and it’s Alice’s turn to take Mary for breakfast and school. All day long Alice and Joe take turns sitting with Matt while the other goes about doing things they need to do. One of them is always with Matt.


Tuesday afternoon Constance is surprised to find her husband and all of her sons arriving at the family home within a few minutes of each other. They retire to George’s den, and very soon she hears raised voices from the room. She waits until the quiet periods between shouts are getting long before she knocks on the door.

George opens the door, “Yes, Dear, is dinner ready?”

“No, George, but I think it’s time I told you all you’re wasting your time and money in trying to get court orders about Matthew’s custody. I’ve got the best claim but I know you won’t have him here. So I’ve not started any proceedings. However, I know something you don’t, as it doesn’t matters who has care and custody of Matthew because they won’t have control of his shares in the company. Some years ago Candice set up a trust for him and she transferred all of her shares to the trust. The senior trustee is Matthew’s Aunt Dorothy and she’ll decide who’s to vote his shares as a proxy. So it doesn’t matter who ends up being his guardian. I’ve been proxy voting the shares for the last year, ever since Candice left a board meeting while swearing she won’t attend another. So Matthew’s situation won’t change anything to do with the board votes. I think Candice and Robert also put all of their other assets into the trust too, so they could simplify their wills and the transfer when it was needed.” She smiles at the five shocked faces before her. She’s very sure they’ve spent most of the last forty-eight hours arguing about who’ll control Matthew and his shares while they worked with solicitors about guardianship. Now she tells them they won’t get the control of what they want, and all of the time’s been wasted.

George is angry when he asks, “Why wasn’t I told of this before?”

“Because, Dear, it’s not any of your business. I only know because Candice asked me to proxy vote the shares at meetings. I just figured out this meeting might be about Matthew’s guardianship so I felt you needed to know certain things aren’t part of the pot.” She turns and walks away while George closes the door. She smiles at the angry voices she can hear in the room behind her.

While she goes to check on when dinner will be ready she thinks on the problems you have in life when you fall in love with someone who loves your money and family business a lot more than they love you.


Tuesday night at the hospital is a repeat of Monday night. This day sets the trend for the rest of the week and for some days to follow. Joe and Alice leave for home while Mary goes to sleep on Matt’s shoulder. She thinks someone he knows well should be on hand if he wakes up in the night. Some nights she has trouble getting to sleep so she lies there talking to Matt on many things: their joint future, as planned by her, and life in general. Matt wanders in and out of consciousness all day and night, often hearing what she has to say while she’s with him.

As the days pass by Matt’s periods of being aware lengthen and he thinks a lot more about what he’s hearing and the changes in his life. He has a lot to think about, especially from Mary’s talks. While the days flow by he starts to come to terms with his grief and his new situation. He starts to think about the future and how he’ll manage his life. Listening to Mary’s talk is a major factor in the changes in his thoughts. He goes through a lot of the grieving process while he’s unable to do anything but think. During this time he hears many things, but not a word about how much Mary was hurt in the incident.

Wednesday and Thursday pass with nothing new happening with Matt and those close to him. People further afield are deciding how to deal with the legal and political concerns from the incident. But Matt is still not responding and the machinery shows him to be in a coma. For some reason the machines aren’t recording the increases in brain activity during his periods of awareness of those around him. All those close to Matt are getting more worried about the situation, except Mary.

Friday

Joe and Alice are sitting and reading in the four bed ward with Matt. At ten thirty in the morning the quiet murmur of voices from further down the Children’s Wing is disturbed by a loud groan in the room. This is followed by first one, then two, and finally a third machine issuing loud beeps. A nurse races into the room while both Joe and Alice move to the bed. Matthew groans while he rolls about on the bed the little he can move within the restraints. The nurse is checking the readings while hitting buttons on the equipment beside the bed. Some running footsteps are followed by two doctors racing into the ward. Joe and Alice move to the foot of the bed so the staff have room beside Matt to check him over. All present are very relieved he’s waking up.

A few minutes later Matt’s eyes are open and he looks at the people standing around the bed. It takes him a moment to orientate himself to the situation and his limited mobility. A little later his eyes squeeze shut and his face goes blank for a moment. He opens his eyes to look at Joe, he gets a small shake of Joe’s head in reply to the question in his eyes. His eyes shut at the confirmation. He takes a few deep breaths while he comes to grips with his new reality. After a long moment he opens his eyes and asks, “How’s Mary, and how bad am I?”

Joe half smiles, “She’s OK! Thanks to you Mary didn’t get a scratch.” He goes on to list Matt’s injuries and he explains about the guardianship.

“Uncle Joe, see if the magistrate will come here so we can get the orders made permanent real quick.” Joe and Alice smile at his wanting to stay with them. The doctors are smiling because this talk shows them there’s no brain damage. They make Joe and Alice move back while they put Matt through the official tests to clear him of any concerns of brain damage. His care and treatment is explained to him and he agrees with it all except for one aspect due to start now he’s awake.

“Doc, the pain killers. I’m very concerned about the possibility of addiction. Please keep them as low as possible, and I want off them as soon as possible.” The doctors agree, but they’re also worried about him not hurting too much because that can adversely affect his recovery. A little later the doctors reset the machines monitoring Matt then leave.

Joe, Alice, and Matt have a long talk on many matters that need to be sorted out as most of them are to do with his trust and the legal issues of the car incident. Matt asks, “Uncle Joe, Aunt Alice, I know you aren’t really my aunt and uncle, and it’ll feel funny saying that many times a day for the next few years. Will you allow me the honour of calling you Mum and Dad. That’ll make things a lot easier while it also saves us all a lot of trouble.” Both of them are touched by this and they’re very quick to agree to it. “Anyway, I get the impression Mary intends for me to make that official when we’re both out of school.” Joe gives him an odd look. “I know I slept a lot, but there were times I could hear you all talking. I know Mary slept with me each night. Some nights she couldn’t sleep well and she’d lie there telling me how our married life will be after school is over. She has our whole life mapped out, except what I’ll be doing for a living.” Both adults smile and laugh because they easily can picture her doing just that. “I’ve known Mary all her life and we’re very compatible. We’re already best friends. I’d not thought about it before, but I think we’d have a very happy life together. We’ve already been through most of the things couples fight about and we know all there is to know about the other. If we’re still together when we’re both adults I think her plans will come to pass. When I saw that car all I could think of was getting Mary clear of it and safe. I didn’t even think about how I’d manage.” Alice pats his hand as she smiles at him.

Joe smiles while he says, “Well, that’s a few years in the future. Right now we’ve got to get you organised for the next several months. The doctors don’t want you to move from that bed for three or four months, as a start. Then another four months or so here in the hospital. So we need to get you organised to spend the next several months or more right here. That gives us plenty of time to see what we have to organise at home to have another permanent resident.”

Matt sighs and he seems to settle into the bed a bit more. “First, I need a much more comfortable and adjustable bed, even if I have to pay for it myself. A phone service, my laptop computer, an Internet service, a huge television and DVD player, both with remote controls, and lots of DVDs. Plus a satellite television service too, if we can get it.” He looks up, “Dad, can you please contact Aunt Dorothy and ask her if she can organise a charge card for you on my trust drawing account? In the meantime go to the best phone store in the city to see if they’ve one of those new Bluetooth hands-free phones. I remember seeing something about one with a very small earpiece for the speaker and microphone with a separate hand unit for dialling. Both sit in a re-charger and transmit to a unit that plugs into the phone socket. Buy one and send the receipt to Aunt Dorothy. See what’s the largest television you can find, and a way to set it up high against the wall opposite. That way I can watch it while lying down or almost lying down as well as while sitting up.” Joe slowly nods whiles he writes it all down on a piece of scrap paper. He can see he’ll need to start carrying a pocket notebook just for dealing with Matt’s needs and wants while he’s in the hospital.

Joe leaves Matt and Alice talking about Mary when he goes to do the shopping as well as getting some lunch for Alice and himself. In the car park he calls Paul to tell him about Matt waking up and what he wants.

Paul is very happy as he says, “Good! Now, as to buying what he wants. I’ll organise a television from here, as well as a fancy bed. You get him that phone unit so we can talk direct. Organise a line with the hospital too. I’ll let Connie know he’s awake. I’ll also inform the court, please have Betty do the same.”

“OK, will do. But you better make that a wide bed. At the moment Mary spends most nights cuddled up to him. She’s even talking about what they’ll do after they get married.” Paul laughs while Joe gets in his car. Joe hangs up, puts the phone away, starts the car, and drives off.

It takes Joe about ninety minutes to find the type of hands-free unit Matt wants. Then he gets lunch at a burger store near the hospital. He walks in on Matt and Alice still talking. His hands are full so he puts everything down on the bed table: the boxed phone set, the tray with two large chocolate shakes, the bag with the two hamburgers and three servings of chips as he figures Matt will eat some of them. He’s surprised when both Matt and Alice grab a shake each and start sucking on them.

Matt grins up at him and says, “I’m a growing boy who needs a lot of extra calcium in his diet for the knitting bones.” After consuming about a third of the shake he puts it back on the table. Joe picks the shake up and he moves it out of Matt’s reach as he shakes his head while he gets laughs from both members of his audience. They all chat while they eat, then Matt’s official lunch arrives for him to eat.

After finishing his meal Joe starts to set the hands-free phone up. There’s a phone socket near the bed, but it’s not connected to a line. After setting up the phone he goes to ask administration to organise a phone line. He returns with two chocolate flavoured milks which he places near Matt’s left hand. Matt laughs while he picks one up to drink.

About an hour later a maintenance man walks in to check the socket, he plugs something into it and he walks off again. Ten minutes later he’s back to hand them a card with a number on it while saying, “You’ve got a direct line, here’s the number. Anyone ringing it will come straight through to you. The line goes through the hospital PABX so you can call hospital extensions or get calls through the switchboard. The system records all outgoing call charges and you’ll be billed for them. Dial nine to get an outside line.” Joe thanks the man and plugs in the Bluetooth transmitter unit to the phone line. All of the parts have been on power and charging since Joe unpacked it, so they’re now ready to go.

After a few minutes work the first speed dial numbers are in and tested: Mary, Alice, Joe, the Watson home, Dorothy, Paul, Betty, and his grandmother as that’s all Matt wants right now. The numbers are tested by using the speed dial system to call them to tell them the number.

Paul tells Matt he organised with the hospital administration for a television to be delivered and hooked up to a satellite dish mounted on the roof of the hospital. Officially it’s donated to the hospital but it’ll be in Matt’s room until he leaves and then it’ll be used for the Children’s Wing. A similar deal is in place with the top of the range bed Paul is buying for Matt. Both should be delivered in a few days’ time.

Matt smiles while he says, “Thanks for the fast work, Uncle Paul. They’ll help me survive the coming months.”

“Oh, Matt. Your school laptop computer. You know your father got a low end Notebook because he thought a top end one was more likely to get stolen at school. I figure you’ll probably want to play some games and other stuff while bed bound. So I’ve organised for a top end unit to be sent down, but on a special stand. I’m told it’s cutting edge with the maximum RAM and top graphics. The stand will keep it stable and the screen is very adjustable so you can set it up any way you want. The keyboard and mouse are Bluetooth, and the unit has a wireless Internet service set up. Full security and loaded with top encryption for emails. The key will be hand-delivered to you next week with the computer.”

“Thanks for that. I doubt I’ll be able to do the school work needed for this year but I’ll be able to do some studies, Uncle Paul. Can you get someone onto finding out what I’m supposed to study for Year Nine this year and what I’ll need to study to make sure I’ve all of the back information needed to do Year Nine next year. I can do some self study but I doubt I’ll do well enough to pass the exams at the end of the year. So I want to be ready to do it next year and just skip school this year.”

“OK, I’ll get something organised and sent down with suitable text books. But just to get this right, I gather you want to study the Year Nine material for this year and next plus the Year Seven and Eight stuff you need to do next year’s Year Nine course work! That right?”

“Yes. I figure I’ll have a lot of spare time on my hands so I want to do something that’s interesting to fill it. After all, I’ve no swimming or running for the next several months.”

“Will do. Take care,” Paul hangs up to get on with his new work.

The call to Aunt Dorothy is shorter. The main content is when she gets on to the subjects he doesn’t like. “Matt, I’ve everything in hand to get compensation for your injuries and your parents’ deaths from the driver. I’m also in contact with the insurance companies. Unless you want a quick settlement, which I don’t recommend, that should be a few weeks longer than usual for the payouts.” Matt is saddened by the subject but he agrees to go with his aunt’s advice because she’s the expert in this. “Now the business. I know you weren’t told, but the business is officially yours and it’s a part of the trust. Your parents were paid senior staff. All current work was completed last week but there are three contracts on hand for next month, what do you want done?”

“Do the contracts specify the work must be done by Dad or do they just want the company to do the work?”

“No specified worker, but two wanted your father.”

“OK. Call Shorty Piper to see if he wants to do the work for me as a casual worker or sub-contracted specialist. He should agree. That way we can keep the business going by having someone chase up work then Shorty does it. I know he hates doing the accounting and the contract paperwork but he may like working as our field man for some years. I don’t want to tie him down so be liberal with freedom in the work terms. Then call the clients to tell them of the situation. Tell them we’re prepared to honour the contracts by having Shorty do the work but we’re giving them the opportunity to cancel if that’s what they want to do with Dad not being able to do it.”

“OK, that should work well. I’d been wondering how to keep the business going. I’ll need to get someone part-time to do the office work, and I know just the person. I know one client will want to sue if we cancel because all of the others now refuse to work with them. Your father only took on doing their work as a favour to one of their major shareholders.”

“Aunt Dorothy, if the business is in the trust I’d bet the house is too. So we need to do something about that. I’ll be living down here for a few years so we need to rent the house out or sell it. Can you organise to have everything in it listed, packed, and shipped down here. I’ll go through it to decide what I want to keep or sell. Then organise to have the house rented out or sold through an agent. In the meantime we need someone to house-sit. Also, Uncle Paul will need to visit to get some information on how to open all of the safes.”

“Matt, we have the information on how to access your father’s safe in the den and we’ve already collected the documents in it. About the house. What say I get photos of it all while it’s catalogued and you can go through it electronically. Then we need only ship down what you want. I’ve already got a house-sitter I trust, one of Paul’s nieces.”

“OK, the photos do sound like a better way to go. However, there are three other safes in the house and I need to tell you how to access them. One is a gun safe so you’ll need someone with a firearms licence to carry handguns when you open it. Dad has a collection of old or rare guns. He’s licensed and all, but I’m not licensed and I’m not interested in them. They’ll have to be auctioned off.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. He was always into guns, but I didn’t know he’d started a collection. Paul and I want to come down to visit so this means we’ll have to. That’s good, because we’ve been looking for a good reason to duck off and drive down. What do you want to do with the theatre box as we have to give them an answer within the next ten days.”

“Oh, I haven’t thought about that. Send me details of the shows, the dates they’re on, and when we have to notify them by. I assume I can give the tickets away, since I doubt I’ll be attending any shows for quite a few months. Also send me details of how to contact them as I don’t want as prestigious seats as Dad needed to impress clients so I want to talk to them about changing the deal.”

“I spoke briefly with them. You can’t sell the tickets. However, if you tell them you won’t use them they’ll sell them and credit the account, less a handling fee. They won’t refund the unused membership fee but are prepared to vary the terms for the same value or a bit more for other terms.” They finish talking and hang up after saying their goodbyes.

The other calls are short, and Matt leaves the call to Mary until after school. Constance is very happy to hear from him. She notes the phone number, but lists it in a way it’ll mean nothing to anyone else. They talk for several minutes, but he has to hang up when some hospital people arrive to work in the room. The doctors check Matt while maintenance people look over the room and remove the beds on the opposite wall. The other one on this side is pushed right into the corner and out of the way. They all finish up about the same time.

One of the senior doctors smiles as he says, “Sometime next week we expect a special bed and entertainment unit to be delivered for use in this room while you’re here with us. The bed is a bit bigger and it’s a lot more adjustable than this one. The entertainment unit will be placed opposite the bed. The maintenance people have just set things up so they can go straight into place when they arrive. I hope they make your stay with us a lot nicer.” Matt and Joe smile in reply and the people leave.

It’s time to go and collect Mary so Alice goes to do that while Matt and Joe have some time together to talk and strengthen their new bond.


Mary

Alice picks Mary up and she stops at a fast food franchise on the way back. When asked what she wants Mary takes her usual long time to decide on what to eat while Alice orders four large fries, six large shakes, and three burgers. It’s only when the order is being put together and they’re given two trays for the shakes, as there’s maximum of four drinks per tray, does Mary start to wonder about the order.

Mary gives the shakes a frown as she asks, “Why six shakes, Mum?”

She grins while she replies, “Matt said he needs extra calcium for his bones to knit. I think he’s just using it as an excuse to get more shakes.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s just like...” Mary stops speaking and turns to face her mother. “He’s awake?” A nod yes in reply. “Then why are we wasting our time here?”

“To get him the shakes and feed he wants because he’s hungry.”

“Oh.” Mary turns back to the counter as she waits for the order to be filled. However, once it’s all there she’s got it and almost running for the car. Alice follows at a more sedate pace with a huge grin on her face.


At the hospital Mary can hardly hold back from running, but she knows not to run in the car park or the hospital corridors. In the ward she rushes to his bed and she sits down beside Matt while being careful not to knock him and hurt his bruises or move his broken limbs. Then she’s spitting out words faster than he can follow them. Matt, Alice, and Joe smile when Mary rattles on at high speed while they eat. After a few minutes she slows down and she starts to eat her salad roll.

For the next few minutes there’s silence while they all eat and Matt has two shakes. Joe steals the third extra one. He has half and he hands the rest to Alice. After that things are calmer when Mary speaks at normal speed while repeating all she said before. The next half hour is spent bringing Mary up to date with what Matt has organised today.

Matt notices Mary hasn’t spotted the hands-free phone unit because it’s very discreet and all but hidden in his hair. So when she goes to put the rubbish in the large bin just outside the door he tests the speed dial number for her mobile phone. Her phone rings and she answers it as she walks back into the room while saying, “Hello, who is this?” because she doesn’t recognise the number being displayed on her phone.

“Mary, it’s Matt. You need to store this number.”

She looks up and across the room at him. He waves while talking low and she hears him on the phone. She looks puzzled for a moment. Then she crosses the room and she turns his head. Spotting the unit tucked into his ear she smiles and says, “Neat! I didn’t even see it.” She looks at her phone, and stores Matt’s number for later use.

“Mary, I don’t know everything you said while you were here. But there were times when I was semi-conscious and I was aware of people in the room. I wasn’t able to open my eyes or move but I did hear what was said a lot of the time. And I remember most of it.” She blushes a deep red. Alice and Joe laugh at her reaction. “We’ll talk about some of those things later, after I get out of hospital. OK?” She gives him a slow nod yes. “Don’t worry, you’re not in any trouble.” She smiles at him.

They sit together while talking about what they’ll do to get through the time Matt is in hospital and what needs to be done for Matt to live with them in the house Joe and Alice are renting. When it’s time for them to leave Mary changes clothes, gets in the bed, and snuggles up to Matt while he takes his tablets. The others give slow shakes of their heads when they leave while Matt starts to nod off due to the heavy sedative and pain killers he just took.

A Week’s Work

Saturday morning starts with the nurse chasing Mary out of the bed and into the shower so she can give Matt a bed bath. He’s embarrassed about a nurse bathing him while Mary is upset she’s not allowed to help. Matt is eating his breakfast when Joe and Alice arrive. They laugh when told about the bath games. Matt isn’t angry with them because he’s far too busy eating the extra breakfast they brought him. For some reason he’s very hungry and he’s eating a lot more than he usually eats.

Show Tickets

After the meal Joe hands over the paperwork with the information about the next show Matt has tickets to and what’s scheduled for the rest of the year. There’s also some papers on membership options with their costs plus the current membership value. All of the shows are at a major entertainment venue in Sydney and the current membership is for a box of twelve seats in the best spot in the house on opening night for four shows a year at one every three months on a Saturday night. The next show is in three weeks and Matt has nine days to let them know if he wants them to sell his tickets and refund the account for them.

Matt is soon in a long discussion with Joe and Alice about what he should do with the seats and the shows. Mary is bored by it so she goes to get them all cold drinks from a drink machine in the hall and she takes a handful of coins from the bowl in the drawer of the chest beside Matt’s bed to buy them. Yesterday Joe filled it for Matt so he can pay for drinks when he sends people for them. The drink machine is in the waiting area near the elevators at the point where the three wings of this floor join.

When she gets there Mary finds two girls about her age looking at the coins in their hands while working out what to get because they don’t have enough for a drink each. Both girls are in dressing gowns so it’s clear they’re patients from one of the bigger Children’s Wards just past the private ward Matt is in. She listens to the girls arguing because each wants their favourite drink and the negotiations aren’t going too well for either side, at the moment.

Mary puts in coins and gets six cans of drink: the favourite flavours of her parents, Matt, herself, and the two the girls are arguing about. She puts four cans into the large pockets of the light coat she’s wearing and hands the other two to the girls while saying, “Here, drink up and stop arguing.” The girls are embarrassed but they’re too thirsty to refuse the drinks. The three girls stand and talk for a few minutes. Mary leads them back to Matt’s room, drops off the other three drinks, and goes on to the main girls’ ward with the two girls. The three of them have a fun time chatting for about half an hour or so while they sip their drinks.

Mary is about to go back to check on the conversation in Matt’s room when one of the girls, Elsie, asks, “If your boyfriend’s in the bed talking to your parents why aren’t you in there as well?”

She grins whiles she replies, “I got bored with them talking about shows and things like Pirates of Penza or something.”

A slightly older girl in the next bed looks up and says, “I think you mean ‘Pirates of Penzance.’ It’s a funny Gilbert and Sullivan musical. There’s a new season of it starting in Sydney in a few weeks. I’ve seen a few recordings and I’d like to see a live show of it, but I can’t afford to.”

Mary turns to look at the girl. She’s of average height but of thin build and her hair’s very thin with not much of it there at all. Otherwise she seems OK. Mary asks, “If it’s not intruding, what are you here for?”

“No, it’s OK. I’m here for chemo therapy. They’re using chemicals to kill off the cancer I have. I spend most of my time being sick with some of the side effects. But it’s better than dying. I’m here for the next few weeks for my current round of treatment.” Mary slowly nods as she thinks on this while the four girls talk about a few things.

Ten minutes later Mary is back in Matt’s room. It seems Matt has all but decided what to do in the long term. That only leaves the tickets for this coming show. She asks, “Matt, that show you have to decide about. Is that a funny Gilbert and Sullivan thing about Pirates?”

“Yes. It’s a very good live musical and this season the lead singers are top international stars from the UK. It’s called ‘Pirates of Penzance.’ Why do you ask? Do you want to go?”

“Not really. It’s just I mentioned you were talking about some pirate show while chatting with the girls in the main ward and the girl in the next bed gave us that name. It seems she really likes those shows but has never seen one. She looks a bit of a mess as she’s got cancer and is undergoing chemo therapy. She’s going home in a few weeks.”

Matt looks up at Joe and Alice, and both smile at him. Matt says, “Dad, grab a phone book to see if you can get a number for the local Make a Wish Foundation or a local cancer support group, please! Mum, see what you can find out about that girl and her family, please.” They both leave to go to the Nurse’s Station to get the information he wants. He hits a speed dial on his phone, and he waits. It’s answered, “Good morning, Aunt Dorothy, a couple of issues for you, if I may!”

“Go ahead, Matt.”

“First, I think we need to come up with an acceptable name I can call you when I call you about business. Technically, when I’m talking to my trustee or my accountant I’m the boss. When I’m talking to you about personal stuff you’re an adult I should be respectful of. So please tell me how to differentiate? I don’t think it looks professional for me to call up my accountant to ask for my aunt when I’m in front of someone with something to do with the business while I’m trying to impress them about being the boss of a professional operation.”

She laughs then thinks for a moment. “OK, most of the people I work with call me Dot, it’s a common short form of my name. So let’s make it Dot for business and Aunt Dorothy for personal items, OK?”

“If it works for you it works for me, Dot. Do you know the name and contact details of a good hotel close to the Entertainment Centre as I’ll need somewhere to stay when we go up for a show? Can I afford to pay for people to go to Sydney for the weekend to watch a show? I’m thinking of linking in with the local Make a Wish or cancer support people to send long term ill people to the shows while I’m laid up.”

“Matt, you can afford to do this. But I think it best we do it through the business. That way we can claim the whole lot as a charity donation thing to make the money stretch further. I’ll organise with a good hotel near the Entertainment Centre to charge a special business credit card. I’ll do the same for the train. That way we can work out a cost per person and just have to list the people to have a cost. The show costs can be billed the same way too.”

“OK. That sounds great. We’ll have to go with this show. But I want to talk to them to swap from the twelve seats on opening night every three months to eight or ten seats in good spots on the same Saturday night each month. It’ll mean more tickets for the same shows but it’s a regular thing with more people going. The total overall cost is only a bit higher than the current deal because the opening night seats are very expensive and the premium position seats are dearer as well.”

“Right, Matt. On Monday I’ll talk to them to sort things out. Get me a list of attendees for the coming show a.s.a.p., please.”

“Will do.” They say goodbye and hang up. That’s one item sorted, now to finalise this last of the opening night tickets.

A few minutes after Matt hangs up Joe returns with Matt’s assigned nurse while saying, “There’s no local Make a Wish organisation but Nurse Mills can organise things on their behalf by coordinating with their Sydney office. I hope that’s good enough for you, Matt.”

“I suppose it’ll have to be. It’ll depend upon what we can work out.” Matt turns to Nurse Mills, “My parents ran a family business which is now mine. The business has a membership for show tickets as part of a public relations program. What I want to do is provide trips to shows in Sydney through Make a Wish or a similar organisation. Can you do it?”

Monica Mills smiles at him while saying, “A lot will depend on how much we’ve got to pay and how long to organise it, Matt.”

“The tickets, hotel, meal, and train costs will be met by the company. Heck, I’ll have to check, but we may even be able to spring a little for spending money. What I’ll need help with is the organisational cover, manager, and recognition of the costs as charitable donations. I’ve got a dozen tickets for the next show, but the ones after that’ll probably be six or eight tickets. I figure a trip will require a nurse, a manager, and then the people attending. We’ll cover the stated costs for all of them.”

Her eyebrows go up as she knows past such deals didn’t cover the costs for the supervising nurses so they had to pay their own costs. She says, “That’ll make it very easy to organise and get approval. That way we can have two adults travel with the children from here. I’m sure I can get coverage from one of the charitable organisations we deal with. Can you please organise it all in writing for me to show them?”

Matt nods yes as he rings his aunt. After a short discussion setting out terms as stated she offers to write it up to fax it over in a little while. Turning back to Nurse Mills he says, “I’m told there’s a girl in the ward doing chemo therapy at the moment. I think she’ll be a good first person on the list. Once you get the fax please get back to me with the coverage as I’d like to be able to tell her what’s happening very soon.” A smiling Nurse Mills walks out to make a few phone calls.

Fifty minutes later Monica is back with two faxes in her hand, one from Dyer Services setting out the terms of what they’ll pay for in the charitable show trips: as listed earlier plus fifty dollars spending money for each person under treatment. The group will train to Sydney on the Friday afternoon, stay in the hotel Friday and Saturday night, and come back on Sunday afternoon. The hotel package is to include the meals for Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. Another fax is from the Make a Wish Foundation to acknowledge the deal as well as offering to coordinate all of the trips while providing management and coverage. An account with all of the receipts is to be presented and a receipt for the donation of services to that amount will be issued. So it’s all approved.

Everyone’s smiling when Matt sends Mary to get the girl she talked to. A few minutes later Mary returns with the girls she’d been talking with and introduces them: Elsie, Toni, and Rose is the eldest.

Matt asks Rose, “In three weeks time a new production of ‘Pirates of Penzance’ starts in Sydney. Would you like to attend the opening night on the Saturday, all expenses paid?” Her eyes go very wide and she turns to look at each of the smiling adults. She nods yes. “Good, now we need for Nurse Mills to organise the accompanying staff and the others that’ll be going with you, because there are several tickets.”

Monica says, “Ten children and two nursing staff to supervise with one nurse acting as the manager for the Make a Wish Foundation. I need to speak with the staff, the children, and the parents because we need to get the approval of the parents too. But that’s my job as the coordinator. I don’t know how to thank you for organising this, Matt. I do know it’ll make life better for those involved because they’ll now have something special to look forward to.” He blushes as he waves the extras out while he tells them to go and organise the rest of the attendees. They leave with very big smiles on their faces.

Housing

Matt and the Watson family sit around talking about rearranging the three bedroom house they rent in order to make room for Matt to live with them when he’s out of the hospital. At noon Joe takes the family home for a proper lunch and to do some shopping on the way. Matt continues to think about life after hospital.

After a bit more thought Matt makes a decision so he makes a phone call. The phone’s answered, “Sorry to disturb you on a Saturday again, Dot,” Matt apologises, “but I need to check a few things.”

She laughs, “It’s OK, Matt. I just add the time to the hours I bill you for. You’re my main client, but not my only one. So I bill you for the time I work on your things. That’s how us professionals do things. You make me work eighty hours in a week and I get two weeks wages that week. So I don’t mind, as long as it’s not too much or too often.” They both have a small laugh at that. “Also, you’re in a tough situation.”

“OK, message received. Things will be very much up in the air for a few weeks but they should settle down after that. I was told when and why the trust was set up but I was deliberately kept in the dark about how much it’s worth. I think that was to keep me from going hog wild with money. I agree with that and feel I don’t need to know how much it’s worth or what it has at any one moment in time. That may change later. What’s important is for it to have enough cash so I can buy what I want or need and I can call you to check if I can afford to do anything special that’s expensive. As long as you keep on top of that I don’t need to know anything else, except what you have to tell me so I can make intelligent executive decisions like I did about Shorty. Understand?”

“Yes, that’s how I was going to operate, anyway.”

 
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