Scott and Shane began looking for a roommate. They asked doctors and nurses at the hospital if they knew any students who might be interested. They didn’t want to advertise and sort through a slew of guys just interested in a free room with no concern for Kyle. “We still don’t know if the person will care for Kyle right,” Scott pointed out.
“At least this way they’ll have some medical experience,” Shane said. “That’ll hold more weight with Jerry than anything else.”
Scott couldn’t argue there. He went up to see Dr. Thorton again, but he’d been released. He sent him another E-mail message, but didn’t expect Dr. Thorton would feel well enough to sit at a computer any time soon.
Scott and Shane visited Kyle each evening from six to seven to read and try to regain some of their routine. Kyle always seemed pleased to see them, and his few comments encouraged both of them.
However, Fran said later that Kyle was faking it. He knew what he’d known before, but in occupational therapy new material overwhelmed him easily. “He’s just pretending to understand. If you quiz him, you’ll see.”
Scott and Shane waited until the next morning to discuss Fran’s statements. “We shouldn’t quiz him.”
“No,” Shane agreed. “Give him time. He’s way ahead of those estimates they gave us.”
“Like you said, our job is to help him not feel so helpless.”
“Not exactly what I said, but yeah. Just wish I knew what to do. Wish we could find someone.”
They’d had one possibility, but after he’d met Kyle, he’d backed out, saying he was too busy. Scott guessed that Kyle’s palsy and his skeletal condition had scared him away. No one they’d asked had known anyone else.
“I’m going to post it on the bulletin board at work,” Shane said.
Scott didn’t have any better ideas. He wished Dr. Thorton would answer his letters.
Wednesday the billing department of the hospital contacted him again. They wanted a written guarantee that someone would pay what the insurance company refused, but they wouldn’t tell him what the insurance company might refuse. No one at the insurance company would give him any definite answers either. When his father called Thursday evening he was more than willing to take his advice and contact a lawyer just to understand Michigan no-fault insurance.
Kyle was tested Friday to see if he could swallow properly. That evening they started him on a liquid diet. If all went well, they said, he may be allowed to come home in another week or two.
Monday Scott chose a lawyer and scheduled an appointment for Thursday afternoon.
Tuesday Kayleigh was not in when he got to work, but she called five minutes later. “Scott, I’m really sorry,” she said when he picked up the phone. Her voice wavered. “I know you need that report finished this morning.”
“My car. It won’t start. I’ve tried everything, and now the battery is dead. I can walk to school from here, but it’s too far over there. If I get it started, I’ll come right in though.”
“I can come get you. Give me your address.”
“But… but school and….”
“I can take you to school, bring you back here later, and take you home tonight.”
“I’ll help, but I understand if you don’t trust my driving.”
“It’s not that! I just can’t expect you’d have time for running me around.”
“I’ll have less time if I don’t have you here.”
“Don’t be sorry; just give me your address.”
Kayleigh hesitated before dictating her address.
Scott wondered if he’d overstepped as he went out to his Cherokee. He drove into Ypsilanti. The houses were close together on the street she’d named. He slowed and then stopped in front of a narrow two story. Four mailboxes lined the side of the house near a set of rickety looking steps that led to the second floor. Glancing between the buildings, he saw an alley and Kayleigh’s Sunbird.
Kayleigh came down the rickety stairs so quickly he winced, afraid they’d break and send her plummeting to the ground. She had her purse and backpack over one shoulder, and she slung them to the floor of the SUV as she climbed in. “Thanks, Scott.” She buckled her seatbelt and looked ahead, as if in a hurry to depart.
Scott obliged and pulled away from the curb.
“How are you?”
“Me? I’m fine. Just frazzled ‘cause of the car. I hope it starts later. Did Shane get any leads for your new roommate?”
“No.” Was Sandy right? Was that all they talked about? He drove her to work.
Later he took her to a late lunch. She no longer protested his paying for the meals. He’d assumed living at home she wouldn’t have as many expenses, but now he guessed accepting meals with him was a practical consideration. They did talk a little over the meal, but he kept track, and again she skirted anything very personal. She only mentioned her mother occasionally. When he asked about her brothers, she switched the subject. He tried several times to redirect the conversation, but she was good at keeping information to herself.
After lunch he took her home and used his jumper cables to start her car. “Now let me know if you get stuck at the college.”
“I’ve got half an hour. I’ll run it down the freeway and charge it up. It should be fine. Thanks again, Scott. See you later.”
Scott went back to the hospital and walked up to see Kyle. Pastor Prescott stood on one side of the bed, and Fran was on the other.
Kyle’s dinner tray held red Jell-o, broth, and sherbet ice cream. He focused on his Jell-o, bringing the spoon down too hard. Bits of Jell-o squirted onto the tray.
Fran reached for the spoon.
“No!” Kyle said. He pushed the tray away. “Forget it. Just leave me.”
“You must eat, Kyle.”
Kyle folded his arms in front of him, tucking his hands under them. He noticed Scott. “Not a baby.”
Scott leaned against the wall. “Of course not.”
The shaking in Kyle’s limbs was not as bad as before. The jerkiness only showed in his neck and head when he became agitated, which he was now. He was on medication, and the doctor said therapy would help some, but they gave no guarantees of complete recovery.
“I’m going back to work.”
“Sure you are.”
“Kyle….” his mother began. She glanced at Pastor Prescott.
Kyle glared at her. “I’m staying here.”
She hesitated. Then she straightened. “Your father will talk to you later.” She left the room.
Kyle stared after her. The jerking in his head eased. He took a deep breath and then pulled the table with his food closer. He again worked on the Jell-o. “Find a guy yet?”
“Need someone. Quick.”
“Yeah. I know.” At Pastor Prescott’s questioning gaze, Scott said, “We’re looking for a person to room with us and be Kyle’s helper while Shane and I are at work.”
“Not a baby sitter,” Kyle interjected.
“No, not a baby sitter. Someone to drive him to doctor appointments and therapy, make lunch, you know, whatever Kyle needs done.”
“And you’re offering room and board in return?”
“Yeah. We thought maybe a student taking night classes. That’s the hard part. No one wants to switch to nights, and we need someone during the day.”
“Let me ask a few people. He has to have a car?”
“Use mine,” Kyle said.
Scott smiled. “Boss says no. Just a license. His father prefers someone with a little medical background, maybe a med student.”
“Of course that’s not essential. I’m finding most medical students go to school during the day.”
“I’ll look,” Pastor Prescott promised. “Let me pray with you, and then I must go.”
After the prayer Scott followed him from the room and walked with Pastor Prescott back toward his office and the parking garage. “We really would like at least first aid training. Shane and I have signed up for some seminars. As far as that goes, maybe just find someone we can get along with, and I’ll send him to a few seminars. It’s just that Kyle’s father might not let him stay if he doesn’t approve of the guy.”
They stopped in front of Scott’s office. “What happens to the guy if he moves in and then Kyle’s father changes his mind? How much time would he have to find another place? He’d have to give up a home and maybe a job to do this.”
“On the off chance that Kyle can’t return to work next winter, then… thirty to sixty days notice of change. We won’t kick him out with nothing unless he’s a thief. I’ll print out our little rule sheet we made up when we tried finding a roommate before.”
“Yes. That would be helpful. And this man would have his own room?”
“He’d share with Kyle. Kyle’s decision.”
“Okay, Scott. I’ll see what I can do. I should know by Sunday if the boy I’m thinking about is interested. Drop those papers by my office before, if you can.”
Scott agreed he would and went to work until six before spending an hour with Kyle and Shane reading.
Kayleigh was not back in the office when he arrived, but he had a voice mail message from her. “Scott? I won’t be in tonight. I made it home, but… the car again. I’ll be late tomorrow.”
Scott looked up her application and settled into his chair to call her home.
“Kayleigh, this is Scott. Sorry I wasn’t in earlier to help.”
“That’s okay. I didn’t expect you could run me around. I remembered after I called that you were probably with Kyle.”
“You could have called up to his room.”
“I wouldn’t interrupt you there. Really, Scott. About tomorrow, though… I’m not sure about the car. The bus won’t swing by there until almost nine so….”
“So, I’ll pick you up. After lunch we’ll get your car to a shop, and then I’ll take you to school. What time do you get out of school?”
“Scott, I can’t.”
“Take it in. Not until payday.”
“If they get it done by Friday, I’ll loan you the money. I’ll pick you up at quarter to eight tomorrow.”
“I can’t ask to borrow money from you.”
“You didn’t. I volunteered. Now….”
“Scott! It’s bad enough you’re buying me lunch all the time. This isn’t your problem.”
“It’s not your problem that I got behind here, but you came in after hours.”
“But that was good for me, too.”
“And it’s good for me to have you here. I’m still behind. Besides, Kayleigh, after all that’s happened, aren’t we more than just co-workers? Maybe I’m overstepping, but I’d like to think we’re friends now, and true friends help each other out.”
The silence stretched on.
“I’m sorry I misinterpreted things. I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning.” Scott hung up the phone and then put his head down on his arms on the desk.
Sandy was right. It wasn’t God or anything but being knocked around too many times. He hadn’t the will to stay and go through more paperwork. His head ached again. He downed a couple Motrin and decided to go home.
He locked up the office. Putting the key in his pocket, he turned and almost ran into Dr. Thorton. “Hey, you’re looking better than the last time I saw you. Want to go back inside?”
Dr. Thorton gave a slight nod, and Scott unlocked the door, leading him back to his office. Dr. Thorton refused the chair he offered. “Back’s still not up to a lot of sitting,” he explained.
Scott leaned against his desk, instead of sitting as he’d planned. “How’s the pain?”
“Better than before the surgery. I don’t need medicine anymore.” He looked into Scott’s eyes. “No more morphine.”
“Great. I’m glad it helped. Almost thought I was through with the Motrin until tonight.” Fortunately it felt like it was working already. His headache had dimmed.
Dr. Thorton shook his head. “So what will you do? Have you told anyone?”
“No. Well, Kayleigh, but she won’t say anything.” He scooted up to sit on the desk, letting his feet hang. “Actually, so far things are under control as far as Kyle goes. We’re hoping to find someone in exchange for room and board. Maybe we should give the guy some spending money, too. What do you think? I don’t know what your group’s limits are. Do you think any of your friends would know someone willing to stay with Kyle?”
Dr. Thorton peered at Scott intently. Then he seemed to relax. “The group is interested in any of your expenses.”
“So far my only expenses are related to replacing my car and hiring a lawyer.”
Dr. Thorton stiffened again. “A lawyer?” He backed toward the door.
“Yeah. The hospital and the insurance company won’t be specific. I need a bit of help with these no-fault laws we have in Michigan. I don’t know what’s covered and what’s not. That should help your group to know what expenses to expect also.”
“You’re not suing?”
Scott shrugged. “Who? They never caught the guy who hit me. I just need to know what’s what.”
“Would you sue him?”
“The drunk?” Scott shrugged. He’d thought through this late at night and wondered what would be gained if they did find the driver. “Maybe. I don’t need much, but if Kyle has to start over or needs life-long care…. That’s what your group needs to know, too, right? If I can get money from suing then your group doesn’t need to do as much and can help someone else. Well, the police said that they’ve pretty much exhausted all their leads. Unless someone speaks up, it’s pretty much over for them.”
“Yeah. By the way, your group is just interested until when? Till we determine whether or not he can go back to his internship? What’s the cut off?”
Dr. Thorton took almost a minute before he answered. “When the money runs out.”
“That makes sense. You can’t do everything if you’re just a few guys. But it’s good knowing you’re there to help us.”
Dr. Thorton reached under his white doctor’s jacket and withdrew a small envelope. “Let me know when you need more.” He handed it to Scott.
“Cash? Do you want me to keep a list of expense for them? Photocopies of papers and receipts? Do you need a paper for this now?”
Again Dr. Thorton hesitated. Surely he wasn’t coming up with an answer right then. There had to be a procedure. Maybe this was just his manner of speaking. “That sounds good,” he finally said.
Scott went around his desk and sat in the chair to make out a slip. “Received from Dr. Bernard Thorton….” Scott stopped to count the money. Ten hundred dollar bills. “One Thousand dollars for Kyle Sloan’s care.” Then he signed his name and handed the sheet to Dr. Thorton. “I’ll keep track of everything, including legal fees, and then you can tell me what’s allowed afterward. I’m not going to do anything I don’t think he needs whether or not you guys come through with the money. It’s all what’s best for Kyle.”
Dr. Thorton nodded.
“Have you been up to see him?”
“I plan to look at his charts tonight.”
“I’ll walk up with you.”
“I….” He turned to the door.
Scott followed him out, locking up again. “Can we tell Kyle about this?”
“No one. Is anyone there now? Your other roommate? His parents?”
Scott glanced at his watch. “His mom is probably still there.”
Dr. Thorton stopped. “Then it’d be better to wait. I should get home.” He started in the direction of the physician’s parking ramp.
“You’ll ask your friends if they know anyone, won’t you?”
Dr. Thorton stopped and looked back. “Anyone?”
“Who would be able to stay with Kyle during the day.”
He gave a slight nod and then continued toward the parking ramp.
Scott went to his Cherokee. As he drove home he touched the envelope inside his suit. It was still there. It appeared that Dr. Thorton’s claims were legitimate. He had an odd way of expressing himself, but then he’d met people who had more inhibited manners. It was probably just his first time coordinating something like this. He probably just drew the short stick and had to be the contact man. Dr. Ratini, Kyle’s mentor, was probably in on this also.
Now that Scott thought through things, it made sense. Dr. Ratini had started this new group and pulled in a few friends. He wanted it all anonymous, so Scott would do his part to help them help Kyle. They all had the same goal.
As Scott entered the apartment, he was greeted with Christian Contemporary Rock. He turned it down immediately to keep the drumming out of his skull.
Shane lounged on the couch with his sketch pad. “Another late night with your future wife?”
Scott grimaced and shook his head. “No. She wasn’t in.” He stopped at the doorway to his room and looked back. “About what I said about Kayleigh. I was still rattled from the accident. It was nothing. Sandy was right.” He hesitated.
Shane sat up and set his pad on the table. “Did you two have a fight?”
“No. Not really. But you know I wasn’t thinking clearly back then. Can we just forget I ever said anything?”
“Yeah. No problem.”
Scott took off his suit jacket as he went into his room.
Scott hung his jacket, glancing through the doorway to Shane. “Yeah?”
“I might have a lead about a roommate.”
Scott went back into the living room. “Yeah, so do I. I need to get those rules off the computer.”
“His name is William, and he’s training to be an x-ray tech. He sounds like he’ll work out well. He knows a lot. I don’t think we need to look anymore.”
“Pastor Prescott knows someone. Might as well let him send the guy over. Let Kyle have a choice.”
Shane shrugged. “Guess that’d be best. What’s the guy’s name?”
“Ditto. He may not even want the job.”
Shane laughed. “Just had to act like you’d been working on getting someone, too.”
“Not acting,” Scott said, more sharply than he intended. “Sorry. The head is pounding again.”
“And you just got ditched. Go to bed.”
“I wasn’t ditched. We never even talked about it.” Scott went into his room and shut the door.
Go to Chapter 8
© 2014, 1998 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.