Chapter 14 – David
Wednesday, March 15th
“They’re all gone, David,” Elizabeth said, looking under the bed at him. “It’s just us again.”
David didn’t speak.
“I’ll just go back to work, and when you’re ready you can come and join me.” She left.
She knew he was a dog, but she still called him David. He wondered if she knew what that woman did. That man said something. She did know. She knew everything. Why, Jesus? Why? Will she still love me? Will she sell me now?
David started to crawl out from under the bed. A sharp pain ripped over his scalp. He couldn’t think. He tried to get away, and his hair pulled out. He scrambled to his corner and held his legs until the panic left. No one was trying to get him. Then he realized his hair must have gotten stuck on the bed frame. He wondered if it would have if it was shorter like Elizabeth suggested.
When David became bored he went to look for Elizabeth. He wanted to be near her no matter how she treated him. She was at the computer, as usual. She was always working on the computer when she wasn’t helping him. He stood next to the desk and waited.
“Hello, Sweetheart. I guess it’s time for me to get dinner for us, isn’t it?”
She called him sweetheart. Did that mean she loved him? He followed her into the kitchen, and she set him to work helping her with the dinner preparations.
“I suppose you know that Dylan went back to Chicago. It seems that the woman who hurt you disappeared after Tom Nepan, that’s the lawyer who was here with Dylan, threatened to put her in jail. He says he can find her and put her in jail if you want to tell the court what happened to you.” Elizabeth turned from the pasta she was stirring to face him.
David shook his head and backed away from her. That woman knew where he was now. Everything was ruined.
“You don’t have to do anything until you’re ready, David. She doesn’t know where you are, and no one will tell her. In fact she never told anyone you were missing, so she isn’t even looking for you.”
David felt chilled from his scalp to his feet. He couldn’t stop trembling.
Elizabeth held him close as she had comforted him when Jared was there.
He hugged her tightly. She still loved him.
Elizabeth stroked his head, and spoke in her quiet soft voice. “It’s all right, David. You’re safe here. Tom, the lawyer, says he can arrange things so that you can live with me, and we don’t have to find her. She never has to know anything. You’re safe here,” she reminded him.
The trembling stopped. He was safe here. “Can I live here always?”
“You can live with me always, Sweetheart. I love you.”
She loved him. David’s arms tightened. He held her a few more minutes before he shyly let her go and looked up at her eyes.
She looked back smiling her soft smile that said she loved him. “David, Honey, if we don’t get back to this dinner, it will be midnight before we eat.”
Thursday, March 16th
Thursday Elizabeth took him to the building next to a church. A dark haired man with graying temples ushered them into his office. David tried to stay as close to Elizabeth as possible. “Hello, Elizabeth. Have a seat? Who’s your new friend?”
“This is David. He’s technically my foster son or will be when I get approval. Jay, I’ve got a real big favor to ask you.”
“Ask away, and I’ll see what I can do.”
Elizabeth pulled papers from her purse and gave them to Jay. “David needs to be enrolled in a school.”
“Of course we can do that. Is your problem financial?”
“No, I can pay for it. But, well, if you read those records you will see that David is not your ordinary student.”
Jay focused on the papers. “These aren’t for David, they’re for a….”
“I know. David Timothy is the name he likes to be called.”
Jay glanced at David. “I guess I can understand that.” He read further. “I think I’m starting to see your problem, Elizabeth. We don’t have a program for him here. I’m afraid you’ll have to go to the public school system.”
“Jay, I wouldn’t even have thought to ask you this, but a lawyer from Chicago suggested it. Could David be enrolled here, and I could teach him at home? Look at the papers in back. Those are what I’ve done with him at home. I don’t think he was classified correctly in Chicago. If he goes to public school he’s going to be placed according to this classification, and he won’t learn anything.”
Jay looked through the other pages. “I’d have to give him a placement test and place him in a grade. This looks to be first grade work, Elizabeth. He’s far too old for that classroom.”
“That’s why I can teach him at home from the same books you use here. Then I can bring him in, and you can give him the tests in a room alone. Jay, I need him in school, or they’ll….” Elizabeth stopped and looked at David.
He stared at her nervously from his chair, wondering why school was so important. That woman always had to have him in school, too. He didn’t want to go back to that. It didn’t hurt, except when the other kids teased and hit him. He wanted to stay with Elizabeth. But then that’s what she wanted to, wasn’t it? That’s what she had asked. He wanted to be closer to her now, he loved her so much.
Elizabeth took the hand he’d only moved an inch. He loved her even more for understanding what he wanted.
She gave him a small smile and then refocused on Jay. “Please, Jay. I don’t know what else to do.”
Jay looked through the papers again before replying. “We’ll try it for the rest of this school year, and see how it goes. I’ll give him a placement test, and we’ll start him at that grade level. You can keep teaching him over the summer, and I’ll give him another test in the fall to see if you’re right about his ability.”
“Oh, thank you, Jay. Thank you so much.”
“I hope it’s as you think, Elizabeth. But let’s get the paperwork filled out. I assume you have something from the state.”
Elizabeth handed him another paper from her purse. “We can start him with the test while you fill out these papers.”
David sat next to Elizabeth as she started filling out papers. Jay brought some more papers and a pencil to them. David clutched Elizabeth’s arm as he approached, knowing she’d protect him.
“Here David. You can start working on this. Don’t worry about the stuff you don’t know. Just fill in as much as you can.”
“It’s just like what we did at home, Honey,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll be right here so no one bothers you.” She rubbed his back.
He stared back at her unsure whether he should try or not. That woman didn’t want him to do anything in school, just be there. Something about money, but he wasn’t sure.
“Please, my beloved son, you must try. Just like at home. Answer as many as you can. Remember, I love you.”
She said to do it like at home. He’d always been able to trust her, so he looked at the papers. The first part was math. He answered what he could, but it wasn’t long before he didn’t know any more answers. He looked up, and Elizabeth was watching him. “That’s all.”
“Turn to the next page, Honey.” Elizabeth explained what they wanted in the next section.
He tried to do a few problems, but finally gave up. He hoped she wasn’t upset. He looked at her, and she directed him to the next part of the test. He glanced up and saw Jay watching them. It made him nervous. He grabbed Elizabeth’s hand again and held it tightly.
Elizabeth disengaged his hand and put the pencil back in it. Then she placed her hand on his shoulder. “I’m right here, David. Just relax. You don’t have much more to do.”
When David was finished Elizabeth handed his papers to Jay. He glanced over them. “It’s just as I said before. This is first grade work. We’ll start him there. I’ll get you the books.” He left and came back with a stack of thin books for Elizabeth. “You can settle your payment schedule with Marilyn at the front desk.”
“Thank you, Jay. I promise, you’ll see improvement next time he’s tested.”
“I pray that you’re right, Elizabeth.”
They left the office, and Elizabeth stopped at the desk and talked to a woman about the cost. Then she wrote the woman a check. She was paying that much for him! She must really love him a lot. This was far more than the cost of his clothes or food had been.
“Come on, Sweetheart, let’s go back home and look at these new school books.”
Friday, March 17th
Friday afternoon Elizabeth and David went to the printer and to several clients. Usually people ignored him, and he liked that. It was only when people noticed him that it bothered him, but he knew Elizabeth would protect him. He was safe with her.
They stopped at Andrea Collins’ office last. David grabbed Elizabeth’s hand tightly when he saw her. She was the woman who called him Dawg.
“Have a seat,” Andrea offered, when they were finally taken back to her work area. “I see you’ve enrolled him in a private school. The way some people waste their money on lost causes amazes me. I just need a couple more signatures.” She set two more pages in front of Elizabeth and put an X next to a line at the bottom of each paper.
David looked at Elizabeth. He knew he was the lost cause that she was wasting her money on. She looked upset, but he wasn’t sure why. She read the papers carefully and then signed.
“You’re all set. We’ll send you update papers to fill out. I do suggest though, that you get Dawg’s hair cut.”
“His name is now David Timothy Weaver. Tom Nepan says he’ll have the papers on that for me by Monday. I’ll bring in a copy for you.”
David Timothy Weaver? She gave him her last name. David looked at Elizabeth to see if she was serious, but she was looking at Ms. Collins.
“When I get some kind of legal document stating so, I’ll adjust the records. You’re all set for now.” She stood. The interview was over.
At home David helped Elizabeth clean up after dinner. “Do you want my hair cut?” He’d never thought about it before, but a lot of people had mentioned it. Elizabeth had said it first.
“I think you might like it better. You don’t seem to want people to notice you. Long hair like yours stands out and draws attention to you.”
“People look at me because my hair is long?”
“They may give you a closer look than they ordinarily would. Besides I think it would look nicer short.”
“Can you cut it?”
“We can call Robin. Maybe she can do it tomorrow.”
“I want you to do it.”
Elizabeth smiled and shook her head. “David, if I cut it people will really stare at you. I’m not very good with cutting. I cut Jared’s a few times when he was younger, and his father forbid me to touch his hair again. I promise I’ll stay with you while Robin cuts it.”
Later David heard Elizabeth call Robin and arrange to have his hair cut while no one else was around. “I know everyone wants to meet him, Beth. Mom and Craig are upset because you didn’t call and tell them first. And you know you are really in the dog house with Renae even though she’s decided to stay with Bill now. How about coming to my place after we’re done?”
“Okay. I guess. But tell Renae that I don’t care how mad she gets at me, but she better be nice to my kids.”
“Oh, you worry too much. Of course she’s gonna stay on your good side. She may need to borrow money from you some day.”
“I thought it would be. I’ll see you tomorrow at one.”
Saturday, March 18th
The next day Elizabeth took David to a small hair boutique on the west side of Flint. Robin looked a little like Elizabeth, only her hair was shorter and wavy. Her eyes though held no green, but were grey-blue. “Okay, David, let’s sit over here first.” She led him to the sinks. “You can wait for us at my station, Beth.”
“No, I can’t. David wants me to stay with him.” Elizabeth lifted the hand that David clutched tightly.
“Robin, I know you’re talented enough to work around me.”
“It’s gonna cost you extra, girl.”
“Yeah, right. Put it on my account.”
Robin laughed and grabbed a plastic cloth from a hook. She started to wrap it around David’s neck. David cringed down into the seat.
“It’s all right, David. It’s just to keep the water and hair off your clothes,” Elizabeth explained.
“Oh, you’re one of those people who are afraid of getting their hair cut. Believe me, it’s not as bad as going to the dentist. I know how to get out the worse tangles without pulling.” Robin lifted David’s hair to fasten the cloth behind him. David twitched away from her.
“David, I know it will be hard, but you will have to try to be really still. It won’t take as long that way. I promise I’ll stay right here beside you.”
Robin frowned. “Okay, David, lean back.”
David looked at Elizabeth.
“So she can wash your hair.”
“I did wash it,” David said.
“I’m sure you did, David, but it’s easier for me to cut when it’s wet.”
“Let me help you, Honey.” Elizabeth put a hand on his chest and on the back of his head, slowly leaning him back. “It’s okay.”
Please, Elizabeth, don’t let me be hurt. Please, Mommy. He kept his eyes on her, silently pleading, hoping he could trust her completely. Water whooshed by his head. He jumped, but Elizabeth’s light hand on his chest kept him in the chair. He could push her aside, but… Jesus, please. Let me be able to trust her. He closed his eyes tightly. David felt his hair being moved, and the water running over his scalp.
“Just relax, Sweetheart. It doesn’t hurt, does it?”
Trying to find an answer to her question took his thoughts from his fear. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it wasn’t painful. He shook his head slightly.
“Of course it doesn’t hurt. A lot of people tell me they enjoy it.” Robin turned off the water. “All done. Let’s sit up.”
Somehow David made it through the towel drying, the chair changing, and the combing out of his hair. Elizabeth stayed with him, occasionally speaking words of encouragement.
“I’ve thought about several cuts for him, but I imagine you want an easy to care for, conservative cut.”
“You know me well, Robin.”
“Not as exciting, but with his natural wave it will look great.” She took a pair of scissors and brought them to him.
He remembered the last time someone brought scissors toward him. “No!” He jumped out of the chair and cowered behind Elizabeth.
Elizabeth turned to face him. “It’s all right, David. Robin will not hurt you with the scissor. I will not let her.”
Robin dropped the scissors. “Why didn’t you just tell me he was an abused child, Beth?”
“David’s past is not an open topic for conversation. He deserves his privacy just like you or I do.”
“Like no one else will be able to figure it out, the way he’s cringing and running. Besides I’m family, and so is Renae and Mom.”
“You want me to make an announcement this afternoon? I don’t think so.”
“Leave it alone, Robin. Do you want to cut his hair, or shall I massacre it myself later?”
“You know, we all thought it was Wesley’s fault you stopped hanging out with us, but really, I think Renae’s right. You think you’re better than us since you finished college. Either that, or we’re too sinful for you because we don’t go to church.”
“Neither one of those things are true, Robin, and you know it. You’re just trying to run a guilt trip, so I’ll talk about David.”
“It is true. We talk about our kids to each other. How come you don’t?”
“You act like I never say a word. I’ve got better things to do than argue about your perceived neglect. I’m behind on my work, and I shouldn’t even have agreed to go to your house.”
They stared at each other. Finally Elizabeth said, “I’d rather go to your house than work tonight.”
Robin smiled. “I guess since everyone’s expecting you, we can stick to the plan. Get your new son up in the chair, or they’ll all go home before we’re finished.”
David had backed into the corner, wondering when the blows would begin. Would Elizabeth be able to protect him? But then they were smiling again.
Elizabeth came to David. “It’s okay. Sisters do this once in a while. Let’s get your hair cut. I promise, she will not hurt you. She’s nosy, but harmless.”
“Thanks, maybe I’ll put that on my tombstone. I promise, David, I will not hurt you. The only thing I will cut is hair.”
David looked at Elizabeth, and she nodded. He grabbed her hand and sat in the chair. He had to trust her. If he didn’t he had no one and nowhere to go.
Robin re-combed his hair. He tried not to think about the scissors when she brought them toward him again, and he managed to cringe only slightly. He tried to think about what he had heard. Elizabeth wasn’t going to tell anyone about what had happened to him. He hadn’t realized that he didn’t want her to until she had said she wouldn’t.
But Robin said people would guess what had happened to him by the way he cringed and ran. He must try not to. He must believe that Elizabeth would protect him. And Elizabeth had said that God would, too. After all God had led him to Elizabeth. He had protected him and shown him the way. And God had healed him, so that he could get away from that woman.
David tried not to cringe while Robin cut his hair, but it wasn’t easy. Her touch didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t Elizabeth’s. It didn’t mean comfort and safety, and it just made him uncomfortable.
Robin was trimming near the back of his neck when she said, “I think I’ll leave this a little longer back here than I was going to.”
David felt her lift his hair, and Elizabeth looked around him. He quickly raised his hand and felt the row of round indentations there. He tried not to remember when and how they were put there, but it didn’t work. He closed his eyes and started shaking again.
“David. David, look at me.” He opened his eyes to stare into Elizabeth’s. Her face was close to his. “I love you, David Timothy. Remember our Lord is with you. He has taken you out of Egypt to a land of milk and honey.”
What was she talking about? He stopped shaking as he tried to analyze what she said.
“I’m glad that made more sense to him than to me,” Robin said, resuming her combing and cutting.
David looked at Elizabeth. Should he ask? No, not with Robin listening. He didn’t want her to know how stupid he was. But he thought about the strange words until Robin handed him a mirror. He barely recognized the boy who stared back at him. The hair was shorter in front and on the sides. Its wave had tightened and was combed back along the sides and across the front.
“What do you think, David?” Robin asked. “Did I do a good job?”
David nodded, not taking his eyes from the mirror. When he finally did he saw Elizabeth smiling at him. “I look like David.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Who else would you look like?” Robin quickly unfastened the plastic covering and removed it, shaking it once.
David watched the hair fall to the floor, where mounds of hair already lay. He couldn’t believe it was all his.
Robin swept it into a large pile, and when she was done cleaning, Elizabeth handed her some money. She was always paying for him.
“Thank you. It looks great, and I know it took you twice as long as normal.”
Robin shrugged. “No problem, Beth. I’ll meet you at the house.”
David followed Elizabeth out to the car. “Be prepared, David. We have to meet a crowd of people again. I know that makes you nervous, but they’re okay people. It’ll be Robin’s husband, Tony, and her two kids, Krystal and Kenny, they’re eleven and eight. Then Robin’s twin Renae will be there. It’s easy to tell them apart now, because they both dyed their hair different colors, like green.” She paused.
David didn’t say anything, but thought green was a very strange color for hair.
“You’re supposed to laugh, David. I am joking. Renae’s is bleached blonde, and you’ve seen Robin’s attempt to imitate my hair color, which I assure you is completely natural. I have not allowed her to pour chemicals on my head yet, and I don’t intend to start. But where was I?
“Oh, yeah. Renae’s husband, Bill, may be there. It depends. I hope he’s not. Renae has four kids, Halley is ten, Billy is seven, Laura is five, and Nicky is three. In other words, we may not be able to hear ourselves think. It’s even worse when Jared gets together with Billy and Kenny.
“And my mom and step-dad will be there. Craig married my mom after I married Wes.
“We’re here so I can’t tell you anything else, except try not to let them get to you. I’ll leave the car unlocked, and if you become too overwhelmed you can come out here for a while.”
Elizabeth stepped out of the car, and David followed. He grabbed the hand she offered him and held on tightly. He felt overwhelmed just hearing about all the people that would be inside the two-story, light-blue house they were approaching.
The door opened as they climbed onto the porch. An older woman greeted them. “It’s about time you came and told us what was going on.” She backed up so that they could enter. David had stopped, but when he felt the slight tug on his arm as Elizabeth kept walking he followed her in. “Is this my new grandson? Are you really adopting him?”
“He is my son. Adoption will take some time, but that is what we are working toward. David, this is my mom. You can call her Grandma, right?”
“That’s right, David. How about giving your new grandma a hug?” David shrunk back as Grandma stepped toward him.
“Give him time, Mom. He’s a little shy.”
“Hey, Karen, let the rest of us see the boy,” said an older, heavy set man, coming up behind her.
David stepped back again, bumping into the closed door. Elizabeth squeezed his hand, and he looked toward her. She would protect him.
She smiled at him and nodded. “That’s Grandpa Craig, and if they ever let us past the door, you’ll be able to meet the rest of them.”
Craig laughed and backed away. “Never one to mince words, are you, Beth.”
Elizabeth slowly led David into the rest of the house and introduced him to all the people she had mentioned in the car.
“Are you Italian, David?” Tony asked.
David wasn’t sure how to respond or even if it was allowed.
“You must be. Don’t be shy. We’re all family here.”
David still didn’t know what he wanted.
“Well, why don’t all you kids run off upstairs, downstairs, or outside. Let us old people hear ourselves talk.”
Krystal and Halley headed for the open staircase on the opposite side of the front door. Little Laura followed them.
“Come on, Billy,” Kenny said heading out of the room through a large doorway. “I got a new Sega game.”
“Take David and Nicky with you,” Tony said.
They paused and looked back. “But Dad, it’s only a two player game,” Kenny said.
David tightened his grip on Elizabeth’s hand. He did not want to go anywhere without her.
“I think David would be more comfortable with us right now.”
“No, Ken and Billy can learn to share, or they don’t need to play Sega today. Go on, David.”
“No, Tony. David will stay here,” Elizabeth said firmly.
“Beth, he’ll be bored stiff listening to us adults talk,” the Grandma said.
“Besides we won’t be able to talk as easily with kids around, interrupting us,” Renae said. If it weren’t for her blonde hair, David could mistake her for Robin.
“I can assure you that David will not interrupt us.”
“He’s too dependent on you,” Robin said. “It would be for his own good. Besides there’s only one chair left. There’s no place for him to sit.”
“Then I will sit on the floor.” Elizabeth proceeded to sit down where she stood. David sat next to her as closely as he could. He wished they were next to a wall so that no one could come up behind him.
“You always were a stubborn one, Beth,” the grandma said. “I don’t remember how many times I had to spank you for climbing into the twins’ cribs when they were being fed.”
Elizabeth got spanked? That meant that grandma had hit her. He tried to get closer to Elizabeth, but he was already as close as he could be. Elizabeth put her arm around his shoulders, and he leaned against her.
“Robin tells us that you got David in Florida?” Renae asked, playing with a ribbon that she had just pulled out of her hair.
“Oh, he’s someone that singer knew.”
“Yes, I guess that’s accurate.”
“So, what happened to his parents?” Bill asked. His words were slightly slurred, and David suspected that he was drunk or becoming so.
Elizabeth rubbed her hand down David’s arm and gave him a little squeeze. “Don’t know.” She still wasn’t saying. It pleased him and made him feel safe, just as Bill made him nervous. He tried to focus on Elizabeth.
“You mean the orphanage didn’t know?”
“I mean, I don’t know.”
“Well, didn’t you ask?”
“No, I didn’t, Bill. It’s not really important, is it? He’s mine now. The past is gone.”
“No it isn’t. The past is never gone,” he insisted.
Elizabeth stared at him and then shook her head when Bill shifted in his seat. “You can let the past control you, or you can learn from it and move on with life.”
“I don’t need lectures from a woman who doesn’t even know….” He broke off in mid-sentence as Renae glared at him.
“We just want to know more about the newest member of our family,” Grandpa Craig said, looking first at Elizabeth and then at Bill.
“There isn’t a lot to tell. I haven’t weighed and measured him, so I can’t give the pounds, ounces and inches. David and I have been together since March sixth. Now what other hospital type information are you looking for?”
“Stop playing cute, Beth,” Renae said. “You know we want to know more than that. You should have sent him with the rest of the kids if you weren’t going to tell us in front of him.”
“I wouldn’t tell you anything if he weren’t here that I wouldn’t say in front of him. Besides there isn’t much to tell. We met, we decided that he would be my son from now on, and he came home with me. Since then I’ve been trying to adjust my work schedule and keep up with everything. I haven’t had much spare time to do anything. We did go to the museum last Saturday because Jared and I had already planned that.”
“Well, tell us what Jared thinks.”
“Who knows what that boy thinks anymore? What’s one more new brother or sister to him? Alisa will have her third one this summer.”
“Really?” Bill said, leaning forward in his chair. “She’s a regular baby factory, isn’t she?” He looked directly at Elizabeth. “Alisa would never have to adopt.”
“No,” Tony said. “She just steals other women’s children, right Beth?”
Elizabeth didn’t respond, but David felt her grip him tighter.
“Do you know, we haven’t heard David say one word,” Renae said. “Does he even speak? Or is he deaf?”
“He’s not deaf,” Craig said. “See how his eyes turn to whoever is speaking. Isn’t that right, David? You can hear fine.”
Everyone looked directly at him. David tried to squeeze himself closer to Elizabeth. Then he remembered what Robin had said about cringing and running. He forced himself to straighten up a little and then nod in Craig’s direction.
“We still haven’t heard him speak,” Renae insisted.
“He’s not a dog to bark on command for you,” Tony said. “I’m sure he’ll talk when he has something to say.”
Elizabeth squeezed him reassuringly and smiled.
He looked up into her eyes and then leaned against her.
“Oh, please,” Bill said, standing up. “This is too much. You met two weeks ago, and you’re hugging on him like he’s your lover or something. Get a man, Beth, and leave the boys alone.”
“Bill!” Most of them chorused.
“How can you say such a thing about my daughter?”
“That’s disgusting,” Robin said.
Elizabeth stood up. “Come on, David. It’s time to go home.”
“No, Elizabeth. Bill is the one who should leave,” Tony said, coming toward them.
Elizabeth kept walking, ignoring them all, until she and David were in the car. She started the car and turned toward home. “And they wonder why I stay away. As long as they keep that man around, I’ll stay away.”
Go to Chapter 15
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.