This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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After The Game

© 2010 Felix_P

Chapter Sixty-four

"I wouldn't have phoned you, but I have a couple of boys that need an emergency foster placement. I found out that Jake and Sean know them," Katharine said.

She told me that Dean Balderson, the policeman that helped with Sean's case, was down in the hospital with the two boys, as their father had been severely manhandled by the police, who made a mistake during a drug raid. The police had the wrong address and broke the door down, then pushed the father to the ground. When he struggled as he tried to explain that they were mistaken, one of them jammed his face into the floor, then kicked and punched him as he lay there. His injuries were quite severe and he was in hospital in a coma. The two boys witnessed this as they were in the front room when this was all happening.

"It was the house next door that the police were looking for. We're not quite sure at this point how the mistake was made, but the boys are really shaken up," she said. I could tell by her voice that she was very concerned.

She told me that Dean was dispatched quickly when the sergeant on duty realized what was happening. In the course of talking to the boys it came up that they knew Sean and Jake.

"There really wasn't anyone to take them as their family support system is very poor. When Dean asked them if there was anywhere else they could go, they mentioned Sean and Jake, as apparently you had helped them at Christmas time," she said.

"It was Sean and Jake that helped them and now I know who you're talking about. It's John Webster and his boys, isn't it?"

She went on to tell me some details of their situation and that the mother of the boys was not in the picture. They had had a pretty rough upbringing as both parents had been into drugs when the boys were young. The father was able to straighten himself around but the mother had taken off to the drug dens in Vancouver when the youngest was a baby. The oldest, Glen, was Sean and Jake's age and the youngest, Garth, was 8 years old.

"We've been working with the father for a couple of years and he had turned things around in his life and was making an honest effort to raise the boys," she said.

He had gone back to school and had graduated as a chef. He had been working in a high end restaurant during the last year as a sous chef but the restaurant went bankrupt. The owner wasn't very honest and stiffed the staff for wages as well as the creditors. That's why the family was so destitute before Christmas.

"I tried to get a foster placement to take the two of them, but I wasn't successful. This is likely to be a while before the father is Ok.... if he recovers."

After she told me about their situation, red flags were going up in my head. I was torn between my empathy for their situation and the boys' past. As well, I really didn't know if I was up to having two more boys to look after if something permanent happened, especially one as young as Garth. I also had other people to consider in the household, notably Dana.

"Katharine, we need to have a family conference before I can say yes. Let me call you back."

By now the boys had popped their heads into the Den to see what the call was all about. They had picked up some details from my part of the conversation and they were starting to put two and two together.

Sean asked with a very concerned look on his face, "Was that about one of our friends getting hurt?"

I told them what had happened and that Katharine was asking me to take them as an emergency foster placement. I also told them that I had some concerns and that I needed to talk to Dana before we could make a decision. When I looked up, Dana was in the doorway.

"Al, call Katharine back and tell her we're coming down to get them. We've got a spare room and those boys need our help," she said, with a very worried look on her face.

I smiled at her and then looked at Sean and Jake and said, "I guess we're all going to the hospital, boys."

Katharine met us in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit. The two boys were sitting there with Dean and they looked pretty shaken up. The older one, Glen, was trying to put on a brave face but it was obvious his little brother Garth had been crying. The two boys' faces lit up as they saw Sean and Jake come through the door and they jumped up and came over to us.

"Are we going to your house?" Garth, the youngest asked Sean and Jake.

"Yes you are, young man," I said, as I answered for them.

He finally broke into a smile and looked at his older brother. By now Jake, Sean and Glen had locked thumbs together.

"Dad and Mom are going to be your parents till your Dad gets better," Sean said to the two boys.

Katharine, Dean and I stepped aside to talk and get the necessary paperwork signed. Dean was a little guarded in his answers when I asked about the events that led to the father's injuries.

"You might want to phone your friend, police chief Robson, when you get a chance," Dean said. I knew by the tone of his voice that there was more to this story than met the eye.

Just then, the emergency doctor who was taking care of the father came out and updated us on his condition. After I had been introduced and my family's role explained, he told us that he had a severe concussion and that there was swelling on the brain that they were trying to control. He said that they might have to perform surgery soon to relieve the pressure. I could see that the two boys were not dealing with the news well, as they both were getting very anxious. Garth's lower lip started to quiver and Dana immediately sat down beside him and pulled him into a tight hug.

"Everything's going to be fine, Garth," she said, as he started to sob.

Sean and Jake were sticking close to Glen as they could see he was upset, as well. It wasn't going to take much for him to lose his composure, as he was desperately fighting back the tears. The Doctor told us that nothing would happen for awhile, as they were keeping him under heavy sedation and close watch.

"Why don't you take the boys home and we'll call you if anything happens," he said.

We needed to get the boys their clothing and things that they would need for the next few days and Dean told us he would go over to their house and get them. They couldn't go in as it was off limits while the investigation and evidence gathering was taking place. It was probably best that they didn't go back in, as memories would still be fresh of the upsetting event.

"The SIU (Special Investigations Unit) from the province has been called in," Dean said.

Apparently since it involved use of police force and serious injury to a civilian, this independent body from Toronto was called in to conduct an investigation. The boys told Dean what they wanted and where things were and he told us he would run them up to our house.

We got the boys loaded into the LX to take them home. It was becoming evident that Glen was very protective of his little brother, Garth. He insisted that he sit next to him and Dana was equally insistent, as the motherly instincts were kicking in. She wasn't about to leave Garth's side, as well. The three of them occupied the back seat, Sean was in the middle and Jake was up front with me. When we got into the house, it was a little after 10pm. I could see that both boys were very tired, as the whole ordeal was catching up with them. Dana, though, had clued into an important point that I had missed.

"I'll bet you boys are hungry. When was the last time you ate?" she asked.

"Mrs. Planter and the cop took us down to the cafeteria a few hours ago," Glen said. I could tell by the way he said 'cop' that he was very angry at the police.

"I've got some chicken casserole and salad left over from dinner. How does that sound?" Dana asked.

Both boys finally gave a feeble smile as they nodded their heads yes. The two boys devoured the food and Glen had two glasses of milk, as he was also thirsty. Garth was a bit of a picky eater and didn't like regular milk and we made him some hot chocolate. He liked Dana's casserole, though and he polished off a large helping. Sean and Jake couldn't pass up the chance to eat and also had some more salad and dessert. It was going to be only dessert, but Dana insisted that they eat some good food first. As they were finishing, Dean arrived.

"I think I've got everything you asked for. I found these two suitcases in one of the closets and the blue one is Glen's stuff and the red one Garth's. The carry bag has Garth's school stuff, along with Pooh bear," he said as he gave Garth a big smile. The semester hadn't started at school, so Glen didn't have any books.

I went with Dean to the door as I wanted to speak to him away from the boys. Dana was getting the room ready for them and the four boys took off for the Media room downstairs.

"We've already taken a statement from the boys, but the SIU will need to interview the boys again, probably sometime tomorrow," he said.

"Dean, I'm getting a little concerned at the way this is unfolding. I'll be having a conversation with Ken Robson tomorrow, but I'm also going to be having a conversation with my lawyer. The boys will likely need legal representation, so you can tell the SIU folks not to count on an interview tomorrow. I'll let them know when they can talk to them," I said. He was a little surprised at my reaction, but he understood.

After he left, I went into the spare room to see if Dana needed any help.

"The boys will have to sleep in the same bed tonight. It's a good thing it's a king size. We can order two twin mattresses tomorrow and separate the box springs, so they can each have their own bed," she said as she handed me some fresh pillow cases.

I wasn't going to argue, as I could see that Dana had taken charge. I also knew that we would probably be buying more than just mattresses tomorrow for them. We called the four of them upstairs to get ready for bed as it was getting late. Sean and Jake used their own bathroom and we let Garth and Glen use our ensuite.

We said goodnight to Sean and Jake and then went into the spare room to say goodnight to Glen and Garth. The two of them were definitely brothers, as they had the same brown hair, which they wore on the longish side, hazel eyes and fine features. Glen was about Sean and Jake's height with a slight build and Garth was much smaller and was a typical eight year old's size. We sat down on the side of the bed and I smiled as I looked at Garth in his Toronto Maple Leaf pyjamas, clutching his Pooh bear.

"Those are pretty spiffy pyjamas, sport," I said as I ruffled his hair. "That's my favourite team, too." He let out a little giggle.

We told them that everything would work out and that they should try not to worry and get some sleep. Dana couldn't resist and she kissed both of them on the forehead before she left the room. Garth enjoyed the affection, but Glen was still a little guarded.

When we got into the Living room, I told her about my conversation with Dean and the SIU. She wasn't very happy.

"Those two boys are scared to death. They need to be by their father's side, not in the police station."

"I'm calling Ray tomorrow morning before I call Ken Robson," I said.

"I can understand the mistake being made, but what I can't understand is the brutality that took place," She said. I shared her concern, as that was the most puzzling detail for me as well.

Dana and I were wakened about two in the morning by sounds coming from the Kitchen. When we got up to investigate, there was Glen and Garth sitting at the breakfast counter. Garth had a glass of chocolate milk that Glen had made for him and it was obvious he had been crying.

"Why didn't you call us, Glen?" Dana asked.

"I can take care of my little brother," he snapped back at her.

I wasn't very pleased with his tone, but I wasn't going to make an issue out of it at that moment, as he was stressed and it was late. Garth got down from the stool and went over to Dana and wrapped his arms around her in a big hug. It was obvious he was a scared little boy and needed some comforting.

"Why don't you take Glen back to bed and I'll sit with Garth for a while in the Living room until he settles back down," Dana said, as she smiled at Garth.

She guided him into the Living room and they sat down on the couch together. When I looked at Glen, he had a very sour look on his face. After I insisted that Dana and Garth should be alone, he finally gave in and I took him back to his room.

"Garth will be fine, Glen. Dana's a good mother and she'll get Garth calmed down," I said, as I tucked him in.

After about a half hour, Dana came back to bed. I wasn't able to sleep and I wanted to find out how she made out.

"We had a good chat. He's very frightened that he might lose his daddy just like he lost his mommy, he told me. He's also still very bothered by what he saw when the police assaulted his father. He finally fell asleep and I carried him back to bed."

"I'm not sure what's with Glen, but hopefully it's just the stress of the situation and his need to look out for his little brother that's giving rise to his surliness," I said.

I was up early the next morning, as was Dana. Both Sean and Jake wanted to stay home and spend some time with Glen and Garth, but we were insistent on them going to school, as this was the first day of the new semester.

"We could sort of help them feel better," Sean said.

I told him that we would be taking them to the hospital to see their dad and then they might be having an interview with a lawyer, so they really couldn't help with any of that.

"Are you going to call Mr. Mueller?" Jake asked

I told them I would be and that we would have to go and get them some things such as school supplies and clothing later.

"We'll wait until you boys get home from school this afternoon to go to the mall to pick up some clothes they'll need. Neither Dana nor I could be their fashion consultant, so we'll leave that job to you, Son," I said, as I gave Sean a big smile.

Glen and Garth were very tired, as they didn't even rouse as Jake and Sean got showered and dressed. They were still in a very sound sleep even after the boys had gone out the door to get the school bus. I was just as glad, as I wanted to call Ray Mueller and I didn't want to have either of the boys overhear my conversation.

"You've got two more boys, Burgs! Are you running an orphanage?" Ray said.

I explained the circumstances and told him about the investigation by the SIU and their desire to interview the boys once again.

"No way. When they call, give them my number and tell them I'm representing them. I want to talk to the boys before that happens. This is going to be a big deal," he said.

Just then, Dana came into the Den to tell me that the incident was the lead story on the morning news. Ken Robson was interviewed and gave few details and hid behind the fact that there was an investigation being done by the SIU.

I told Ray and he said, "I don't want you speaking to any reporters either. Give them my number as well."

"How would reporters know where the boys are?" I asked.

"Trust me, they'll find out. I'll give them until 11 o'clock this morning and you'll be getting calls."

He was tied up that morning but he said he would drop in about one in the afternoon. As I was hanging up, I heard the toilet flushing down the hall and I knew that one or both boys were up.

"Hello, sleepy head," Dana said as Garth shuffled into the kitchen, clutching his Pooh bear.

I picked him up and sat him down on a breakfast stool. He was still a little sleepy and definitely not too chatty.

We asked him what he would like to eat and he said, "Can I have some Fruit Loops?"

"How about some Kashi cereal with some nice fresh fruit on it," Dana said, as she gave him a big smile.

He was a little disappointed that we didn't have his favourite cereal, but he ate up every morsel of the Kashi, even though it had white milk on it. Apparently that was alright, as he just didn't like drinking white milk, because it tasted 'yucky' according to him. He downed a small glass of orange juice and a glass of chocolate milk and he was full. We didn't have a vitamin pill for him, as Sean and Jake's were not appropriate for his age.

"That tummy's full now. I can see it bulging out through your pyjamas," I said, as I smiled and tickled him. He giggled and squirmed as he shifted away from my hand.

Glen had now joined us and like Garth his choice in breakfast food wasn't terribly healthy.

"I'm sorry, Glen, but we don't have sticky buns in the house or anything like it. We don't eat that kind of thing," I said, much to his chagrin.

"How about some scrambled eggs, toast and fresh fruit?" Dana asked, as she put down a glass of orange juice and milk for him.

"I wanted a Coke," he said abruptly to Dana, as he pushed away the milk and crossed his arms.

"First of all, we don't have pop in the house, nor will we. We also don't speak to each other like that, Glen. We're respectful to each other and we expect that you and Garth will be too. I think you owe Mrs. Burger an apology," I said.

There was a pause and finally he reluctantly said he was sorry. This was shaping up as being a very challenging situation with the two of them. I could see that we had some dietary issues that we would have to educate the boys about, as well as deal with Glen's attitude, particularly towards Dana.

"You boys need to know that we have healthy choices to eat in this house and junk food loaded with sugar is something that we don't buy," I said to the two of them.

Glen wasn't too happy but he was a little more subdued after I had scolded him. The two boys went downstairs to watch TV and play on the Playstation. Dana got on the phone and arranged for two twin mattresses to be delivered that day for the boys and then went out to buy the appropriate sheets. I went into the Den and called Ken Robson on his private line.

"I wondered how long it was going to be, before you called. I heard you took the two Webster boys into Foster care," he said.

I told him the background of the boys' relationship with Sean and Jake and that they had helped them out at Christmas time. He then went on to tell me some general details about what happened.

"Appreciate, Al, that I can't really say too much, but the family should get a lawyer," he said, with a guarded tone to his voice.

"Ray's coming over today, to sit down with the boys."

"Geez, our legal department and insurance company's in for quite a time now."

He told me off the record that there was some very bad police work done that resulted in the unfortunate series of events, as well as some bad judgement on the part of one of the officers.

"You know I don't like bad cops. That type of person gives the whole force a bad name," he said.

"I know, Ken, and I'm sure you'll take care of the problem. But, since I've undertaken the responsibility of fostering the boys, I'm going to advocate for them the best way I know how."
After we hung up, I got a call from the SIU representative. He wasn't too insistent that he needed to talk to the boys that day and he took Ray's number and told me he would make arrangements with him. He understood and thanked me for my cooperation. Shortly after that however, I received a call from the local TV station and they were a little more aggressive. I told them they needed to make sure they had obtained the information about the boys' whereabouts legally or they would have a real problem on their hands. I also told them that I was not going to allow access to them and that they had better be careful about what they divulged on air. After I got off the phone I decided to call the private detective I had used before, Joe Hoskins, to see what information he could find out.

"That's a tall order, Al. Once the SIU gets involved the information pipeline shuts down pretty fast. I'll try to see what I can find out, but I can't promise that I'll get anything useful."

I purposely waited until later in the morning to call the two boys' schools to let them know of the change. Things usually were calmer at that time of the morning, so I was sure I could have a longer chat. I was also particularly interested in getting information on their scholastic and behavioural records.

"So it was the Webster boys' father who was beaten last night. I saw the clip on the news this morning," Judy Langley, Garth's principal said. I knew Judy from some committees I was on with her and I got her caught up on what was happening.

"Garth is a happy little boy and he could be doing much better, but the support from home hasn't always been there. Both boys pretty well run their own show. The father's found it tough raising them on his own, especially in his occupation."

When I called Glen's high school I got a similar message about his underachievement. However, I got a different picture of his behaviour than I did from Garth's school. He had got himself into trouble a few times and seemed to have quite a chip on his shoulder as well as having issues with some of his female teachers.

Dana finally arrived back with more than just the sheets. She had bought the boys new pillows as well as duvets and managed to find Garth a Toronto Maple Leaf cover for his.

"I told the mattress store we needed them by the end of the day and they were very accommodating," she said as she took the parcels down to their room.

Just then the boys came upstairs to see what Dana had brought home. I think the real reason they came up was that Garth heard that Dana was home and wanted to come up to see her. He was really becoming very attached to her.

"I think Dana has something very special for you, Garth," I said, as his eyes lit up as he took off down the hall to see the new cover.

"Can we go to the hospital soon to see if Dad's better?" Glen asked me, as he didn't follow Garth to the room.

I told him that Ray was coming at one and we could go after he was finished.

"Why do we have to talk to a lawyer?" he said, with an impatient look.

When I explained that Ray needed to know as many details from them so he could handle the legal claim and secure an adequate monetary settlement from the police force, he calmed down. Garth had now joined us again and he was very excited that he was going to have his own bed and he wanted Glen to come to the room to see the new pillows and his special duvet cover, as well as the duvet cover Dana got for Glen. He took Glen's hand and dragged him down the hall.

I was still thinking about what Glen's principal had said about his difficulty with female teachers and I was beginning to see the same pattern with the way he treated Dana. This was going to be something that I was sure was going to lead to some sort of confrontation before long and I was not looking forward to dealing with it.

We had lunch and once again we were treated to Garth's 'unique' dietary concerns. He didn't like soup of any kind nor did he like sandwiches. However, he asked for a grilled cheese.

"Isn't that a sandwich, Garth?" I asked.

Both Dana and I were trying to hold back from laughing as he gave us his explanation of why a grilled cheese was not a sandwich. According to him it didn't count as a sandwich because the bread was stuck together to the cheese. Then when he saw how Dana was making it with real grated cheddar, whole wheat bread and grilling it in the fry pan he was very skeptical, as his brother always made it for him using cheese slices and doing it in a toaster oven. All was good though, when he dipped it in a big blob of ketchup on the side of his plate and took the first bite.

"So I guess your silence means it meets with your approval," she said as he vigorously shook his head yes with a big smile on his face and his mouth full.

Shortly after lunch, Ray arrived and took the two boys into the Den to interview them. While he was in there Joe Hoskins, the private investigator, called with some news.

"I still have friends at the force, but I thought this was going to be a tough one to get any information on, because they protect their colleagues in situations like this. But this time a lot of the guys aren't very happy with what happened and are talking. Apparently the officer who inflicted the personal damage on the father had a past history with him. He had arrested John Webster and his wife a few times in the past and recognized him when they barged into the house. The officer had a history of using too much force in some of his arrests and it was the other two officers that told the sergeant on duty what had happened, as they had to physically stop him, otherwise the damage would have been worse," Joe said.

I took down all the information to give to Ray when he was finished and thanked Joe for his great and prompt work.

"You know where to send the bill, Joe. By the way, do you like red or white wine?"

After Ray was finished the boys went downstairs to watch TV while Dana and I talked to him. They both looked like it had been a very emotional ordeal, as their faces were very drawn as they came out of the Den. I gave Ray the information I got from Joe and he broke into that wry smile he had always had when he was about to go into attack mode.

"I hope the force has got lots of insurance. They're going to need it," he said.

He told us what the boys had related to him and that they were still shaken up at having witnessed their father being beaten up before their eyes.

"I think the older one has a lot of pent-up anger that he's dealing with. I'd like them to see a psychiatrist or psychologist in the next couple of days to get an assessment of their mental states. It'll be an important part of the Statement of Claim when we file the lawsuit," he said.

After he left I called the hospital to see if there was any change and whether we could take the boys in to see their father. The nurse on the ICU desk said that we could bring them in, but we should prepare them on what they were to see.

"He's still unconscious and on oxygen to help him breathe. He's not a pretty sight."

When we got to the hospital, the nurse took us into the ICU. Garth was very distraught when he saw his father and he turned and buried his face in Dana's mid section. Glen was very quiet as he stood by the bed staring at his father. After a few minutes we went back to the waiting room as the doctor was coming around to see us. Dana went over to put her arm around Glen to console him and he pushed her away and said some very unkind things.

I grabbed a hold of his arm and said, "That's enough! I know you're under a tremendous amount of stress, but that doesn't give you the right to take out your ill temper on Dana. She's only trying to help you. Now you're going to apologize real quick, or I'll find you somewhere else to live until your dad gets better."

He was shocked at my outburst and he stepped back when I finally let him go. He hung his head and gave a genuine apology to Dana. Just then the doctor came in to update us on his condition.

"We're still monitoring the swelling on his brain and there's been some improvement. We're keeping him unconscious to give the brain time to heal. The broken nose and other fractures are the least of our worries at this point," he said.

Glen was quite subdued on the ride back home and wanted to be alone in his room when we got in. It was a combination of my outburst and his concern for his father's condition that was getting the best of him. I took Garth downstairs to the Media room to play on the Playstation and watch TV.

"Don't be too hard on him, Al. I'm sure he didn't mean it," Dana said as we sat in the Kitchen and had a cup of tea before Sean and Jake arrived home on the school bus.

Sean and Jake knew something was wrong when they tried to talk to Glen after they got home from school. He didn't want to come out of the room and was sitting on the bed playing with his Gameboy.

Shortly after, the mattresses arrived and the two beds were set up for the boys. Glen had come out of the room by then and Jake and Sean were having a conversation with him in the Kitchen as the four boys had a snack that Dana had made. Dana was down in the room supervising the makeover.

"I get my very own bed, with a neat cover," Garth said as he sat down on his bed and bounced on it after the men had left.

"Now I won't get your butt or Mr. Willy poking into me in the middle of the night," Glen said to Garth.

I was not happy with his rather inappropriate comment and Sean, Jake, Dana and I looked at each other after he said it. He noticed our glances and silence and he started to shuffle as he was feeling uncomfortable after he realized his mistake. He was definitely a little rough around the edges and this was something I was going to have to work on with him.

Before we had dinner, Sean and Jake handed Dana and me their first semester report cards and they did very well. Sean had 98% in Math and Jake had 93% in English. Both marks were the highest in their respective classes. Their overall averages were in the mid 80's and we were very pleased at their results. Even Sean's English mark was decent, as he had managed to pull it up to a final mark of 72%.

"Well done, boys. I think we should go out and celebrate on Friday with a special dinner," I said as Dana and I gave them a hug.

I was also very pleased with my Business 'class' as all the kids had done very well. Charles had the highest mark of my students and was only beaten by one of John Gregory's students. I had also been working with Brandon and his mother on getting Brandon identified as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)so he could get the type of official support from the school that he needed. The strategies suggested by the Resource room teachers were paying off as well as his iPhone calendar. I knew he was a very bright boy and his marks were now reflective of his ability.

"Brandon got over 80% on his report card. He was really pleased," Jake said.

"I'm sure his mother is too," I said as I smiled.

Dinner was another adventure with Garth, as we learned that broccoli wasn't on his preferred list of vegetables. Dana had made a deal with him that he had to try one stalk of broccoli. Glen thought it was great as Dana had used one of our favourite recipes where she tossed the broccoli in garlic butter. We were chatting and hadn't noticed that Garth had eaten it. Dana was praising him for trying it and then told him to finish up his chocolate milk. He was a little reluctant and Dana insisted. She then got a good look at his glass and it was now clear why he was so reluctant.

"Garth Webster, what's that in your glass?" she said.

He had now learned a valuable lesson that you can't hide a piece of broccoli in chocolate milk. She got another stalk of Broccoli and a fresh glass of chocolate milk and gave him a look only a mother could give.

"No more tricks, young man."

The look on his face was priceless as he swallowed the broccoli. It went from disgust to delight.

"I think that face means you like it," she said as we all laughed. She got him some more and he polished it off fairly quickly.

After dinner we all took off for the mall to get Glen and Garth some more clothes and other things.

"What's with Glen?" Sean asked as he hung back and walked with me as we entered the mall.

"He's under a lot of stress, Son. He's very concerned about his dad's progress, as we all are."

Dana took Garth off to the boys section to get the clothing he needed and I went with the other boys. Both Sean and Jake helped Glen pick out jeans, hoodies, shirts and a whole lot of other things he needed such as a warm winter coat, even though he didn't think he did. Sean was really good at steering him away from the black t-shirts with heavy metal groups screened across the front.

"I call it the 'modified preppy' look," he said as Glen came out of the dressing room with a pair of Docker twill pants, and a tasteful long sleeve t-shirt.

Glen was very pleased despite his initial reluctance at the quantity of clothing we were picking out for him. He was softening and he was very appreciative after we had finished.

"Thank you, Mr. Burger. You didn't have to get me all these things," he said.

"You're welcome, Glen. That should keep you going for a while," I said as I gave him a smile. I decided to test the waters and I put my arm around him and gave him a slight squeeze, which he didn't resist. It seemed as though we were making headway.

By now, Dana and Garth had joined us and he was very excited and was busting to show us some of his purchases. He was particularly proud of the Toronto Maple Leaf hoodie they managed to find.

"It has a picture of a hockey player on it above the Maple Leaf," he said as he pulled it out to show us. We all told him how great it looked as we were chuckling at his youthful exuberance.

We finished off the shopping trip by going to the office supply store to get some notebooks, pens and other supplies all four boys were going to need for school.

"Can I get this and some of those pencils, to do some sketching?" Glen asked.

He had an unlined notebook that was not a sketchbook, as apparently he liked to draw and according to Garth was really good.

"He can draw Spiderman and Mickey Mouse," Garth said with a big smile on his face.

Dana overheard the conversation and said with a big smile, "I'd like to see some of your work, Glen. I used to draw and paint years ago."

Dana had taken many fine arts classes in University and was an excellent artist. At one time she had shows in some of the local art galleries, but lost interest over the years.

"Let's get you something better than that, dear. There's an art supply store on the main floor. How about you and I go see what we can find, while the others shop around here?" Dana said. He gave her a tentative smile and the two of them took off.

I was very pleased to see the two of them finally establish some sort of bond. They joined us about a half hour later in the food court and we were having muffins and hot chocolate at our Horton's outlet. When they arrived, Sean went up to the counter and got Glen a muffin and hot chocolate as well.

"That looks like more than just a sketchbook and pencils," I said as I looked at the three large bags.

"That doesn't include the easel that we have to pick up to take to the car after we finish here," Dana said as the two of them smiled at each other.

Garth was so excited about his new bed that we weren't sure he was going to sleep that night. We put him to bed shortly after we got in and the other boys stayed up another hour later. The next day, we would be making a decision about when Glen and Garth went back to school, as we felt it was important to get them back to some sort of routine. We said goodnight to Glen outside his room so we wouldn't wake Garth up.

"Goodnight, young man. Think positive thoughts about your father," I said, as I patted him on the back.

Dana could tell by his body language that he was Ok with her giving him a small hug as she said goodnight.

"Why don't you say a prayer for your dad before you go to sleep," She said as she put her arm around his shoulder and gave him a squeeze.

He gave her a smile and said, "I will."

We were awakened by the phone at 3 am. I looked at the call display after I wiped away the grogginess from my eyes and it was the hospital calling.


Ontario SIU

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