As the four hands reached out and touched me, offering me comfort, Randy said, "it's going to be alright Uncle Mike."
I simply nodded, hoping that the faith of a child was correct when I heard,
"It is" from Kevin.
I just hoped he was right, as I concentrated on seeing the road ahead, through my tears, as we flew to be with Sammy.
I was both surprised and deeply honored to see that all the units from several departments had remained at their positions, blocking intersections all the way to the hospital, with the officers standing outside their units, facing us, as we passed, in respect for Sammy.
It didn't make driving any easier, but the tribute was touching, and Sammy would have loved it, NO WOULD love it, when he found out.
I had to tell myself that, as I sped to the hospital.
"He will love it Uncle Mike." Kevin said, as if to echo my thoughts.
The other thing that happened that overwhelmed me, was that as we passed each intersection, the officers got back into their units, and pulled in behind us, escorting us the rest of the way.
By the time we pulled into Memorial's ER Bay, we had units from the city, county and state, all overflowing the parking lot, as we exited the vehicle.
Eric met us with the wheelchair, and I placed Brian gently into it, as the boys once again took up station behind it, to push him.
"I'll meet you inside in a minute," Eric told me, as we turned to go in. I knew he was going to meet the gathering officers.
As we came in, a nurse met us and said, "Please come with me."
"Is he...?" but I couldn't go on.
She looked at me with pity in her eyes, and I almost lost it until she said, "he's doing ok, the doctor will be out in a few minutes to talk to you."
I didn't realize that I had stopped breathing, until her words finished, and the air came out in a whoosh from my lungs.
I also felt Peter cuddling into my side, and I quickly gave him a squeeze, as he looked up at me, with worried eyes.
The nurse led us to a private room, and told us that there was coffee and soft drinks in the fridge, although the thought of it turned my stomach.
"You can smoke in here as well," she added, and left us alone.
I sat down in a daze, thinking about all the times I had brought families here, or had met them here. All the attempts at empathizing with them didn't compare to actually being in the room yourself.
I suddenly felt 3 small bodies curling up in and around my lap, on the couch, while Peter went and crawled into a very surprised Brian's lap, who looked like he was going to say something to object, but then got the softest look on his face, and pulled Peter to him instead, wrapping his arms around the boy, who cuddled in with a sigh of contentment.
I am not sure which of them was enjoying it more at that point.
The three I had were all over me, and it was the best feeling in the world, and kept me anchored and feeling safe, all from the love you could almost feel pouring out of them.
I would have been lost without them there.
Eric came in and stopped for a second, taking in the scene, before smiling and coming over to join us, just as a doctor walked into the room.
Suddenly I tensed up, and knew I had stopped breathing, until the doctor smiled, and relief flooded my system, in a release that was more intense than an orgasm, as I knew then he really would be alright.
The doctor came over and took a chair before saying,
"My name is Dr. Sanders, and you have one hell of a kid there, deputy." he told me
Don't I know it!
"Mike, Mike Reynolds, and he sure is." I told him
"Well Mike, first of all, he is going to be alright, he lost a lot of blood, and that sent him into hypovolemic shock, which caused his heart to stop. The paramedics in the field got it going again, and got him stabilized. He is still unconscious, and he is going to be weak for a few days, and will need plenty of rest, not to mention he will be hungry, but he is going to be fine."
"Well doctor, that is really great to hear, although being hungry is nothing new, what about the knife wound?"
"That actually wasn't serious at all; it was the loss of blood that caused the problem. He has some stitches that will dissolve in a week or so, but it didn't do much damage."
"Can we see him?"
"in a little while, we will be keeping him overnight for observation, but barring anything unforeseen, he should be able to go home in the morning." the doctor told me as he stood up.
"I'll send a nurse when you can come back."
"Thank you Doctor, thank you so much," I told him, as he left and I felt the tears starting again, this time in relief and gratitude.
I just hugged my babies to me and cried.
My Sammy was going to be alright.
Surprisingly, Peter and Danny changed places, to an equally shocked Brian, who nevertheless I could tell, really liked it.
Peter crawled up into my arms, and I gave him such a big hug, he cried, "daddy I can't breathe," with a little giggle.
"Sorry little one, I'm just so happy right now." I told him
"Sammy's going to be alright?" he half asked me.
"Yes baby, SamSam is going to be alright." I said with joy in my voice and heart, as he smiled up at me, before burying his head back in my chest, as I looked over to Eric.
He was just smiling at me, and I nodded my head, with thanks, for everything.
He nodded his head back, and we sat there just cuddling the kids, until the nurse came in.
I got up and carried Peter in my arms as the others got into position behind Brian and we began to head to the door.
The nurse looked like she was going to say something, but with one look at and from me, she decided not to, as we followed her out.
She led us into a room and there he was.
"Sammy," I said in a whisper as I looked at my oldest son, lying there motionless and so pale.
I walked over to him, in a daze, and stood against the side of the bed, looking down at him.
"Sammy," was all I could say
Then Peter wriggled out of my arms, and onto the bed, where he cuddled up to Sammy, and held him tightly to him, as I bent over and kissed his forehead. Whispering, "I love you little one, so very much."
I almost had a heart attack, when I heard a barely audible whisper say as I was bent over
And then I was looking into those deep brown pools of light that was my baby boy.
"Hi dad." he said, still with a small smile on his face.
"Oh baby, how are you feeling?"
"Hungry?" which made me laugh amongst the tears that were falling down my face.
"And wet," he added
"Wet? Did you have an accident?" I asked.
But in a voice still barely above a faint whisper he said "just you." with that Sammy smile still there, which was more precious to me at this moment than all the riches in the world.
Just seeing it again, filled my heart and soul with such joy, that I couldn't begin to describe it.
"Me?" I said stupidly not getting it
"Yea, you're getting me all wet."
And I realized I was still bent over looking into his eyes and crying all over him, while the boys giggled at his comment.
"Sorry." I said not really meaning it I bent down and kissed him again, and then just stood there looking at him, and those eyes. I couldn't stop looking into them.
"I'm ok dad." he said
"I know baby, you just scared us is all, and I got to make sure for myself."
Then in that way he had, he said, "I know, dad"
"Samuel Patrick Reynolds if you EVER..."
"I won't dad." and then so softly I almost thought I didn't hear it "not for a long time." as I asked
"Nothing, I said I won't die again," he told me with an impish grin.
"How's the little boy, is he ok?" he asked, changing the subject
"Why don't you ask him yourself?" and moved out of the way.
I watched as Sammy made eye contact with Brian, and they just looked at each other, for a while before Brian said, "thank you" to Sam
Sam had that smile on his face, and said, "I'm just glad you're ok. I can't have my boyfriend hurt, now can I?" which caused Brian to blush bright red, and Sammy to giggle.
Then the others came around and gave him hugs and held onto whatever part they could find as Sammy said, "thanks guys for taking care of dad."
None of them said anything other than to tell him they were glad he was ok.
Eric came over and kissed Sam, and told him softly,
"If you ever scare your dad and us like that again, if your dad doesn't kill you, I will." as he gave him another kiss, and I could see tears rolling down his face as well, as he looked into Sammy's eyes intently.
Sammy giggled and said, "Now you're getting me wet."
"Get used to it cause I bet you're going to be getting wet for a while," Eric gruffly told him.
Eric was right. I didn't know how I would ever let him out of my arms after this.
Finally a nurse came in and said they were taking him up to his room now. We all followed as he was taken up to a room with one other occupant in it
He appeared to be a boy of about 12, with a cast on his leg and one arm, and bruises on his face. He glanced at us, as we came in, but then turned his head and looked at the wall studiously.
After getting Sammy settled in, they brought him a tray of food, which he made short work of, complaining that he was still hungry. I told him that I would get pizza later for everyone, and that got "yeahs" from everyone as a nurse came in to tell us to keep it down, but I didn't care.
The other boy remained aloof and didn't seem social, the one time Randy went over to talk to him.
Good old Sammy though, was the one who did something about it.
After about an hour of him playing with his brothers, while Eric and I watched, he suddenly said he had to go to the bathroom, and asked me to take him.
I picked him up and carried him over to the bathroom, and sat him down, opening the door for him, when he asked, "dad could you come in with me?"
I didn't think anything of it, figuring he might be feeling weak, and was afraid of falling or something, so I said, "Sure honey" as I followed him in and shut the door.
He went right over and did his business while turning his head and speaking,
"What's with that other kid?"
"I don't know, son."
He seemed to think about it for a bit as he finished, and then said, "Well lets go and find out." and it was that simple to him.
"Sammy..." I started to say, when he turned around and said,
"Dad, something is wrong, and I want to see if we can help."
What can you say to that?
I started to open the door when he said, "Dad, can you carry me back?"
"Uh sure," I said and he gave me a look.
"This is so you can set me on his bed when we get there."
He sure had this planned out.
I picked him up and carried him back out, only this time walked to the other boy's bed. The boy had looked, as we came out, then turned his head again, as we walked over. When I sat Sammy down on his bed, and took a seat, he couldn't very well ignore us anymore, but what I wasn't expecting was his hostility as he snarled at us. "go away and leave me the fuck alone!"
Sammy just continued to look at him and asked softly, "why?"
The kids head snapped back and he looked at Sammy, in complete disbelief, but managed to say, in the same voice, "cause I don't want no fucking one bugging me."
"Saying hello is not bugging you," Sammy replied, completely calm.
I thought the kid's eyes were going to bug out of his sockets as he looked from Sammy to me and back again.
"Are you a retard or something? I said to leave me alone."
"Please just go." the kid said this time, only the hostility was gone, and something else was there, only I wasn't sure just what it was.
After all that, Sammy surprised me again by saying, "ok, my names Sammy," and hopping off the bed and returning to his own bed.
He just left and I was standing there with my mouth open as was the boy before he looked at me with a confused look on his face and said,
"Is he...always like that?"
I just shook my head and said "pretty much." but the boy remembered he wanted to be left alone I guess, because he suddenly turned his head away once again.
I walked back over to my group, and we spent some time just playing. Eric had found some cards somewhere, and Go Fish was being played by everyone.
Eventually though, calls of I'm hungry were starting to be heard, and we decided to order some pizzas to everyone's delight.
I then thought to ask Brian something,
"Brian, I totally forgot, but we should call your parents, and let them know where you are, so why don't you give me your phone number." I said to him
Brian got a strange look on his face at that, and quickly said "that's ok, they won't worry or nothing, just as long as I am back at the mall by 9, that's when they are going to pick me up."
I looked at Eric, and back to Brian, as everyone was quietly watching Brian now.
"Brian honey, we have to let them know where you are." I told him softly.
"Please it's ok, really," he said.
"Brian, you don't have to be afraid of my dad, he won't get mad at you," Sam added to him.
Brian was getting a panicked look in his eyes, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong, so I quickly said,
"Hey munchkin, why don't you and I go for a little walk, ok?"
He didn't look too happy about it, but nodded his head slowly, and I got up and went around behind him to push, but before I could get there I had an 8 year old taking over.
"I'm coming too Uncle Mike." he told me, looking up at me.
I was going to object when Sam said "take Danny with you dad, since I can't" and I once again looked at him, and read more in his eyes than what he actually said.
I saw the others smile, and I just nodded my head, as I said,
"Ok" and out of the room we went, as Eric said he would take care of ordering the pizzas.
We walked in silence for a bit until we found an open atrium without anyone around, and I sat down on a bench, while Danny pushed Brian over right in front of me, and then surprised both Brian and me by crawling up into his lap, and cuddling in with his head on Brian's chest, with a contented little sigh, that was matched by the older boy.
I didn't say anything for a while, just let the quiet, soothe a troubled child, and waited.
Finally with a soft little sigh as if he knew he couldn't put it off any longer, Brian raised his eyes and I was surprised to see tears shining within them, as he looked at me.
I could tell he was trying to get the courage up to actually talk so I softly told him,
"Brian, whatever it is, we will all still be here for you, after today we always will."
He just continued to look at me, and I continued to wait, until he finally spoke.
"Thanks, I...its just that...well if you call my...if you call they will kind of freak out, and won't let me go to the mall anymore." he said.
I could tell that there was also a lot he didn't say, but before I could say anything, Danny spoke up.
"You can tell my Uncle Mike, its ok."
"What?" Brian said as Danny lifted his head and looked at him.
Danny didn't say anything but kept looking at Brian, and it was Brian who looked away, finally.
I remained quiet, and watched.
Danny kept looking at him, but didn't say anything, and I was fascinated.
Eventually Brian spoke again, only it wasn't what I thought it would be. "When I was 6, I was in a car accident, and my parents died. I was left in this thing but I lived." he said bitterly.
"They put me in a place for kids that didn't have no where to go, or nothing, then they would send me to live with people. Last year I got sent to live with Steve."
He stopped there, and again we waited until he was ready to go on, "Now I live there and if you call him, I won't get to go out anymore." he finished.
"Why?" I asked
He looked up at me with a look in his eyes that was mixed with pain and loneliness, coupled with desperation, and my mind jumped to the worst conclusion.
"Brian, does Steve or someone in the home hurt you?"
He sort of laughed but it wasn't one comprised of humor, as he said softly, "he'd have to give a fuck first, and he doesn't."
The language alone shocked me from him, but I was appalled at the pain contained in those words, as I asked him,
"Brian..." but he never let me finish my question as he bitterly cried "you don't understand, they don't want me, no one wants me, look at me. I'm just a big check to them. They have to let me live there, but they don't want me."
"I stay out of their way, and they stay out of mine, if you call them, then I won't be out of their way anymore, and I'll be stuck in that place all the time."
My mouth was hanging open, but before I could say anything, Danny spoke up.
"You mean they treat you bad there?"
"Hmmph, no they don't treat me any way. They just put up with me as little as they can. You don't know what its like..." then the tears started falling, as he brokenly continued, "this was the first time in...I can't remember when someone gave me a hug. You don't know what that's like. They don't hardly speak to me, or help me, or anything, they just let me stay there. They won't even help me to...to..." and then he stopped as sobs started shaking his body.
All the pain that existed in his little body started coming out, as I reached out, and scooped up the child along with Danny, into my arms, and just held him.
He had been keeping it in for God knows how long, and finally it had broken out.
Danny had his arms wrapped around him, and I had mine wrapped around the both of them. As he cried and Danny cried with him too.
He was right; I found it extremely difficult to imagine a life without hugs, and for a child that had to be like being starved of oxygen, as I felt they were just as necessary to life for a child as air would be.
As his crying diminished, he looked up and said,
"I'm sorry for being such a baby."
"Don't be, honey, I can't even imagine what it has been like for you, I don't even want to. I'm the one who is sorry that you have had to live like this."
"Its ok, I'm kind of used to it, it's just that today..."
"Today you got some of what you have missed out on."
"Yea" he said softly.
"Well we'll always give you hugs and stuff," Danny told him seriously, as he looked up at him
"Yes we will." I echoed his words.
I could see the hope warring with the pain and fear of accepting what we had said, in his eyes, but his heart spoke for him, as I felt his arms tighten convulsively about the both of us.
"Thanks, but I'm ok, like I said, I'm used to it by now, and that's just the way it is," he told us
"That's the way it used to be, it won't be any more," I told him.
He gave me one of those looks that kids reserve for us dense adults, before he said, sadly
"You can't make him love me."
"No you can't but you can find someone that will," I told him.
He looked at me for a moment before shaking his head and saying again, with that sad voice
"It won't make any difference; they are all pretty much the same. Some are better than others, but most don't really care about you."
"There was this guy at the group home, who used to hug us all the time, and let us sit in his lap, he read to us and stuff, and everyone really liked him, but they fired him because he wouldn't stop."
I started to say something, but he quickly added, "no he didn't do stuff like that either, I know, there was some of the kids who wanted to and he wouldn't, they really tried too"
It didn't surprise me overly much, sadly. Schools and other places that dealt with children employed a strict no touch policy, that was nothing but detrimental to children. They were so afraid that something sexual might take place, that for fear of something that might or might not be harmful to the child, they instead elected to do something that definitely was harmful.
"I'm sorry," I told him.
"So were we, he was the only one who gave a damn in that place," he told me, and it hurt to hear the hopelessness, along with the bitterness in his voice. One so young shouldn't have that much in him.
"Well we give a damn." Danny told him.
"I know, but you'll be gone soon, and I have to go back to the foster home," Brian said dejectedly.
"Brian, listen to me. We all care and that won't stop when the nights over. We'll still care. Tomorrow and the next day too; you can come and visit us any time you want, and we will always be here for you." I told him.
He just looked at me before saying "thanks."
God, so much pain; I wish there was something I could do, something that would erase it from his face, and his shoulders which were slumped, in weary defeat, erase it from his voice.
"Brian, I know some people in social services, would you please allow me to try to help you?" I asked him.
"What's the point, no one wants someone like me," and I knew he was speaking about being in a wheelchair. "It would just move me to some place new, and it probably would be worse. I know how to get along where I'm at, so just leave me alone, ok?" he said ending on a bitter note.
God, I wanted so bad to restore hope to that little boy right then, that it was a physical hurt inside of me. Danny was looking at me intently, and I was trying to think of something, anything as my heart broke, while I just continued stroking the crying little boy's back.
We just sat there as Brian calmed and finally sat back and said, "Can we go back now?"
"Ahh sure honey, we can," but the pain for him wouldn't leave me as I looked into his eyes again. I hadn't even realized I was crying until his small hand reached up and caressed my cheek, wiping away the tears, as he asked me
"Why are you crying?" in a soft voice.
I debated what to say, and then finally just told him, "because of what you have to live with."
In a voice filled with disbelief and wonder, he asked "you're crying for me?" as if it was the most bizarre concept imaginable, and it made my heart ache even more, that he didn't know that kind of love where someone would.
"Yes for you," I told him simply
"Don't, I ain't worth it." he said suddenly with that bitterness back in his voice, as he tried to squirm from my lap.
"DON'T you ever talk that way about yourself!" I told him. Sharply, with anger in my voice, causing him to start and look at me quickly, frozen in place as I repeated "EVER!"
Now, I could see anger in his visage as he replied "why not, no one wants me, I can't walk, I can't do nothing, I ain't worth nothing so WHY NOT?" his voice rising steadily throughout finally ending in a scream at me.
I was so stunned by the anger and bitterness contained within him, that I just sat there numbly, as he very quickly got back into his chair and took off.
"Brian..." I called softly, but he was already out in the hall and Danny and I were left alone.
"He's not really mad at you Uncle Mike." he told me
"I know, sweetheart, he is just hurting so much right now, and I don't know what to do for him." I told him softly.
Danny looked at me intently for a moment and then took off after Brian as I sat there getting myself together and thinking.
What could I do to help him, he was such sweet child and he was hurting so much. People worried about kids being hit or raped, but the worst was the emotional and psychological abuse that they suffered. Bruises faded quickly, but the emotional scars visited on children such as Brian, didn't show, but were there nevertheless, and didn't fade and they were much worse than a simple bruise. All this kid ever needed was some love, and no one who was charged with providing it, could be bothered to do so, I thought in complete disgust.
I managed to pull myself together and headed back towards the room, looking for Brian, and not finding him, until I got back near the room where he sat with Danny, just outside the room, with Danny speaking to him.
He broke off whatever he was saying, as I came up, and I called
"Brian," but he just pushed himself into the room and I was left standing there
"He's so sad, Uncle Mike," Danny said to me.
"I know sweetie, I know." I told him, putting my arm around him as I walked into the room with him tucked into my side, to find everyone staring at me.
I just stopped, and stared back.
Danny walked over to stand by Sammy, who was looking at him intently as Eric glanced at me and shrugged his shoulders. Brian was studiously avoiding looking anywhere near me, and I didn't know what to make of it, as the tv droned on in the complete silence.
Then Sammy turned his gaze back to me, as the others looked back and forth between us, while the worst thing that could have happened did, as the background noise suddenly became clear with the announcer stating
"coming up at 6 a local police officer's son seems to be a chip off the old block as he takes on would be attackers at a local mall, also tonight..."
"Oh shit!" Eric and I said together, as we saw the video shot of us getting into our unit at the mall, including Brian just as Kevin said "cool we're on TV" while the door opened and I heard, "someone here order pizza?"