Copyright© 2015 by Lumpy
The next morning, everyone was gone ... including Mrs. Bell, who’d had to go to work. I was mobile enough that I could go get something to drink or go to the bathroom, but I was still supposed to lie down most of the day.
It was still a little before lunch, and I was just finishing reading Marks’ Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers ... a title I found amusing since it sounded like I was reading a book owned by someone else ... when the doorbell rang.
It rang twice more in the time it took me to get to the door. I found if I moved slowly, it didn’t hurt so badly. Finally, I got to the door and opened it. To my surprise, Margret stood on the other side.
“Margret? Is everything okay?”
“No, it is not. Can I come inside?”
I stepped out of her way, and let her by. She walked past me and sat down in the living room on one of the couches. I made my way to the big, soft recliner and sat gently down, and then raising it so I could get in a half-laying down position to take some of the pressure off my wound.
“Sorry, I need to stay more or less horizontal as much as I can. What’s up?”
“What is up is I have had enough.”
Her voice was cracking from the amount of anger in it. We hadn’t been getting along well, but I wasn’t sure why she was so mad.
“Enough of what?”
“Of everything. Of your behavior. Fights at school and now some kind of gun battle. Medical bills piling up that we can’t afford.”
“I was cleared of any wrong doing in those fights. And I got shot just standing still, they were in a car. That isn’t a gun battle. I am sorry this has put more of a burden on our family ... that I agree is my fault. I know I am a minor, but I will see what I can do about getting those bills applied, to me and not to you. I can try and pay for it out of my job.”
“It isn’t just that. I don’t know where you got the nerve to send Angela Bell over to talk to me, or how you convinced her you were some kind of saint, but I do not take kindly to that. You know I was working and couldn’t come to the hospital. I do not need to be lectured, and certainly not on the behalf of a teenager.”
I hadn’t known Mrs. Bell went to see her, but I could see that it would have bothered her that Margret didn’t come and visit me at the hospital.
“I am sorry she came to talk to you. I didn’t know that had happened. I will talk to her and make sure she leaves you alone.”
“I would prefer if you left me alone. I don’t want you in my house any longer. You have caused nothing but trouble since the day you moved in.”
“So, you’re kicking me out?”
“Yes. I am sure your girlfriend will take you in. It’s clear this is where you want to be, anyway.”
“I would prefer to stay with you, since you are my legal guardian. I never wanted there to be a rift between us, and for that I apologize.”
“Don’t sweet talk me. You may fool everyone else, but I see through your little act.”
Margret was being more unreasonable than usual. I knew there was no talking to her like this.
“Well, I am sorry you feel that way. Regardless, I will come get my things when I am up and moving again.”
“I will have your stuff brought over. I don’t want you to step foot in my house again, and I want you to leave Tina alone.”
“That is where we are going to have a problem. I plan on continuing to spend time with Tina, and to act as her brother.”
“She is my daughter! I can say who...”
“And technically I am your son, regardless if you kick me out. If you start hassling her or me about us spending time together, then we will have a problem. I am sure child protective services would love to hear about how you are treating your adopted son. Do you want to lose Tina to the state?”
She practically growled at me, “I knew this is what you were like. Fine! Blackmail me all you want. I don’t care who you spend time with, as long as it isn’t in my house.”
I kept my calm and didn’t scream at her, but it was a close thing.
“Okay. Please send my stuff over here when you can. I will only contact you when I have to, as you are still my legal guardian. Past that I will leave you alone.”
She said nothing else to me. She just stood up and walked out of the house, slamming the front door. I closed my eyes and tried to get a grip on my temper. I thought about getting up to call Mrs. Bell, but I didn’t want to move any more than I had to, and she’d already missed enough work because of me.
Eventually I did get up ... when nature called. I took that opportunity to grab some more books before lying down. That was where I was when Zoe, Vicki and Tami got home.
I was focused on my reading, and didn’t hear them come in. The first clue I had that they were in the room was when I heard “Holy Shit!’ from behind me.
I looked up ... well, upside down ... and saw the three girls standing in the doorway.
“Hey ladies. How was school?”
Vicki smirked at me, “Before we get into anything, how long have you been able to do that?”
“Do what? Read?”
“Read that fast. We sat here watching you for several minutes and it seemed like you were just glancing at a page for like thirty seconds and then going to the next.”
“Really? I just kind of got absorbed in what I was reading. I didn’t think it was any faster than normal.”
“Well it is. I have seen you read before ... and, yeah, you’re a fast reader ... but not like this. I guess that explains the giant stack of books you had Mrs. Bell pick up. I thought you couldn’t make up your mind, but you are going to read all of those, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. Gotta do something when I am lying here, and you are all at school. Now, how about instead of standing in the door watching me read, you three get over here and let me show you how much I missed you.”
Of course that was more talk than anything, as it was already getting late in the day. We only fooled around for twenty minutes before they had to start working on homework. Even then, it was nice to have all my girls there with me, even if they were doing their own thing. At one point Zoe looked up at me and saw a goofy grin on my face.
“Nothing. Just thinking about how lucky I am.”
That got me a chorus of ‘awwws’. I was starting to figure out some of the tricks to this dating thing. Just then the door downstairs opened and we heard Mrs. Bell shout up that she was home.
“I need to talk to Mrs. B for a minute. Can you girls hang up here for a minute so I can go talk to her?”
Zoe was shaking her head, “No. You have been moving around too much as it is. I want you to stay here and lie down. We will go get her and send her up.”
That got me a pat on the head as she and the other two girls were leaving. After a minute, Mrs. Bell came into the room.
“You needed to talk to me, Cas?” she said smiling at me.
“Yeah. Margret came over today to talk to me.”
Her smile faded instantly ash she asked, “What did she want?”
“She wanted to make it clear that I wasn’t welcome in her house, anymore. She tried to forbid me to see Tina too. But I squashed that idea. I can still see Tina, but I can’t stay there any longer.”
“Oh dear. I was afraid this would happen.”
“Did you go talk to her?”
She looked away for a second, then said, “Yes, I did. I was very angry she didn’t even come to the hospital to see you. As soon as I started talking to her, I realized it was a mistake. Her feelings for you are so irrational that there is no way we can reason with her. I am sorry I messed up everything for you.”
“It’s not your fault, Mrs. B. This was bound to happen. You’re right about how irrational she has been. There isn’t much we can do about that. But, it leaves me with a problem. I now need to find a place to live.”
“No you don’t. You can live here. You practically do, anyway, and we already consider you part of the family.”
“Thanks, Mrs. B. I was hoping you would say that. Umm, about living here...”
“I think this is a discussion for more than just you or me.”
She hollered for the girls, who all came thumping up the stairs and into the room.
“Okay, family meeting time.”
I looked at her sideways, and she noticed the glance.
“You heard me. I am not sure how we got here, but this is now our weird little family. I don’t know Tami all that well, but if you three have accepted her I am sure she will fit right in. So, we have a new change. Cas is going to be living here permanently from now on.”
The conversation was interrupted by Zoe’s squeal.
“Before you get too excited, we need to think about where he is staying. I know you kids would prefer to share a room, but there are issues with that. One, if anyone ever brought it up and sent CPS here they would have problems with that. I could be accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”
“We have the guest room. We will set that up as Cas’s room. Although I am not a fool, I know you two will end up in the same room, just ... don’t be too obvious about it. Okay? I must be out of my mind.”
She mumbled that last part to herself.
“No, you aren’t. This is a weird situation, I agree. And I appreciate how liberal you are with us.”
“Yeah Yeah,” she waved her hand at us as she turned to leave.
Vicki sank back on the bed next to me, looking at the ceiling, “I wonder how I can talk my parents into living here with you guys.”
That stopped Mrs. Bell cold, “No. No you don’t. We are not breaking up any families here. While you are still kids and under your parents care, you will live where they want you to live. Cas is a special case, and I will accept frequent visits ... but you live with your families. Families are important.”
Vicki sighed, “Okay, you’re right. It just I have two now. My normal family and my ... um ... I don’t know what to call us.”
“Me either,” Mrs. Bell said over her shoulder on her way out of the room.
The rest of the week and a half of bed rest was more or less me reading during the day, and spending time with the girls at night. All in all it was a really peaceful week in spite of my being in pain from my wound and having been kicked out of my house. Finally, our appointment with the doctor came around. Hopefully, I would be cleared to get back to school. I was starting to go stir crazy.
Normally, this is done at the hospital. However, as we had other things to talk about, we arranged for Doctor Chang to meet us at the house. It was late in the afternoon, and the meeting included the three girls and Mrs. Bell, in addition to me and the doctor. Doctor Chang was in her full professional mode and started off before we could offer her a drink or anything. It was all we could do to get her to hold on for a moment, ‘till we could get seated, instead of talking by the front door.
I derailed her before she could jump in again.
“Doc, before we get started on what you have learned and what we have to tell you, could we get the examination out of the way. I think the conversation will be distracting enough that if we don’t take care of this now; we might not get it done. I need to get off of bed rest before I go insane.”
She opened her mouth to argue, paused, and then said, “I guess you’re right. I just really want to talk about what I learned.”
She came over, checked my vitals and looked under the bandages. She pressed and poked at me asking ‘does this hurt’ and ‘how about here’? She was as thorough with her examination here, as she’d been in the hospital, and I had no complaints. Although she was a little high-strung and pushy, she was a very competent doctor.
“You seem to be healing very nicely. Actually, better than nicely. I continue to be astounded by your recovery rate. You will probably still experience stiffness and pain, and I want you to refrain from strenuous physical activity, but you are cleared to return to school. No more bed rest.”
“Thank God! I can’t wait to get out of the house.”
She shook a finger at me, and smiled.
“This is not a license to go right back to your old routine. Take it easy, and make sure someone there knows to watch out for you.”
I let out a short laugh, then said “I don’t think that will be a problem. I have a feeling my nursemaids will not let me out of their sight.”
All three girls were nodding their heads in agreement.
“Okay, good. With that done we can get to the good stuff. Before I tell you about my findings, I would like to hear this additional information you mentioned.”
“Sure thing. So, besides my weird blood tests, and whatever else you found, we have noticed other oddities about me.”
“First is, how people react to me. It is very much out of the ordinary. I generally get one of two reactions. Either people seem predisposed to trust me and support me or they are set to hate me. That may seem like just a teenager complaining and I am not talking about bias but an extreme level of both. A good example of the ‘hate’ part would be the police officer who doctored a report of a fight so I could be put in jail. This is a woman whom I had never met before, yet her report was biased to the point that when charges were dropped, I got a personal apology from one of the detectives about the report and her attitude. That is one example, but there are others. Any of the ladies here can attest to how strong it is. The flip side is equally strong. Recently, I was able to talk the school principal into overriding school and district policy, so that I could handle a disciplinary problem with another student at school. I may be persuasive, but no one is that persuasive.”
“That is of course all anecdotal, and while notable, isn’t something easily quantifiable. I’ll get it, if you want to write that off. Next are my physical and mental abilities. At the hospital you mentioned my tests looking like something you would expect from a world class athlete. I may not be world class, but they can attest that my physical abilities are above the norm. I can run a six minute mile for an hour with no problem and hold a conversation while I do it. The mental side of things, I think I can show you an example. Girls, would you go up and get those books.”
They all nodded, having been told before hand that I would ask for them. Each came back with an armload of fairly dense books and professional journals. All covered physics, math or engineering.
“I read all of these, this week ... and, if you open to random pages, I would be happy to answer any question you might come up with.”
She did just that. The doctor would take a book, open it randomly, read a few sentences and formulate a question. After I’d answered the twentieth question, she put the books down and looked back at me.
“That is astounding. Have you always read like this?”
“I have always been a fast reader and intelligent, but the degree to which I am picking up knowledge seems to have accelerated since the shooting. But, again, that is hard to quantify. It’s not like I measured my reading prior to the attack.”
She nodded, her eyes getting a far off look as she replied, “That would make sense.”
When I gave her a questioning look, she waved me off.
“We will get to that in a minute. What else?”
I told her about the slow motion thing. She sat stunned for a minute before speaking.
“Do you feel like something happened to those around you or was it something happening to you?”
“Definitely something happening to me. No one else noticed anything weird.”
“Were you actually moving faster or was it a perceived speed?”