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Dana was frantic when I called her on the way to the hospital. Sean and Jake went with Glen in the ambulance and I followed in the LX and called her on the way. She had just arrived home with Garth and they hopped back into the RDX and took off for the hospital.
"What happened!" she said, as she rushed over and gave Glen a hug as she entered the treatment room. Garth was right behind her and latched onto the other side of Glen.
We were still waiting for the doctor to come to stitch up the gash in Glen's arm. I had insisted on a plastic surgeon to do the work, as I was concerned about scarring, as it was on the top of his forearm and it would be very visible if it wasn't done properly.
"I think Glen's turning blue, since you two are holding on so tight," I said, as I chuckled.
While we brought her up-to-date, she was rubbing his back with the soothing touch only a mother could give. Garth was still hovering very closely by Glen's side and before we could finish telling her what had happened I noticed the tears welling up in his eyes.
"Glen is going to be fine, Garth," I said, as I reached over and brought him into a big hug. He buried his head into my body and the tears were now flowing.
Dana quickly came over and I relinquished my hold on Garth, so she could work her magic.
"I'm Ok, Garthy," Glen said, with a reassuring tone. That was the first time we had heard Glen's pet name for him.
After a few minutes, he had settled down, but he was still sticking very closely to Glen. The plastic surgeon arrived and took a long time to stitch him up, as he was very meticulous about his work. He told him he had to wear a sling for a few days to immobilize the arm and that we should make an appointment with his office in a week to take out the stitches. We had sent Garth out of the room while the doctor was stitching him up, which didn't go over well. Garth was being very protective of his older brother and finally after some persuasion from Jake and Sean he went outside the room with them and Dana.
Garth insisted on going home with Glen, so Sean and Jake drove with Dana. It was obvious that he was terrified that another of his small family was in danger of becoming permanently incapacitated or worse. Dana and I talked about monitoring him in the next few days to see if he got over the trauma. Even though he had been with us for some months and his life situation was much more stable, he was still a little bit insecure.
We called John Webster as soon as we got home. I tried to calm him down, but he was very upset, partly because of the injury, but mostly because he felt helpless that he wasn't there to comfort him.
"I'll come right over and get you John," I said.
When I picked him up, he was beside himself. He was so upset that he was shaking as we drove back to the house.
"Glen is fine, John. You need to calm down, or you're going to set your recovery back," I said.
Needless to say he was very emotional when he saw Glen. He set Garth off again, and it took a few minutes to settle him down as well as John. Finally John relaxed a little when Glen told him he was alright.
"We had a plastic surgeon take care of the cut, so when he's healed it will hardly be visible. He should be fine in a couple of weeks," I said, as I patted Glen on the back.
"Thank goodness it's his left arm, so he can still draw," Dana said with a big smile, trying to lighten up the conversation.
When I took John back to the home, he was still very upset.
"I feel awful that I wasn't there for my son. I feel totally useless. I don't know when I'll get better... if ever."
"John, you were there for your son. His spirits picked up the moment you walked into the house. I know this is hard for you, but we're taking care of your sons and they're going to be just fine. Your job is to make sure their father is fine, so you can be a family again."
That seemed to snap him back to reality and he was in a much better frame of mind when we arrived at the home.
We kept Glen home the next day as he was still very tired from the ordeal and the painkillers he had been given. We had quite a time getting Garth off to school, as he didn't want to leave Glen. Sean and Jake finally convinced him that Glen would be fine and that he needed his rest. My sons were showing a great deal of maturity as they helped us handle the very difficult situation.
That night Dana and I sat down with Garth and got him to open up about his feelings. He told us that he was very afraid when he first saw Glen as he arrived at the hospital and that he thought he was going to die.
"If my Dad and Glen weren't around I wouldn't have a family. I wouldn't have anyone," he said, with a very sombre look on his face.
"Garth, both Glen and your Dad are going to be fine. Besides, if they weren't around, you do have a family that loves you and would take care of you. We would never let you be alone," Dana said, as she smothered him in a hug.
After another twenty minutes of talking with him we were confident he would be alright. He was an interesting young boy and he was really a pretty deep thinker for his age. He wasn't satisfied until things made sense to him.
Glen however, was proving to be more difficult to bring around. He certainly wasn't himself the next two days and he told us he didn't feel well enough to go back to school. All five of us were trying to get him back on track, but it wasn't working. His arm wasn't causing him pain or any problems, so we were puzzled as to what the problem was.
He moped around during the day and just wanted to watch TV and play video games. He also spent a lot of time in his room napping. Dana took him down to the art studio we had set up and got him drawing and painting and he finally perked up a bit but certainly wasn't back to his old self. After he balked at going back the third day, Dana and I sat down with him and had a heart-to-heart talk.
"Sean said you tutored him for a long time when he came to live with you. Can you tutor me too?" he asked.
"This isn't about your arm, is it Glen?" Dana asked.
After some more probing, he reluctantly told us he was scared to go back in case Scary Larry was going to come and get him again. I asked if he thought that the other goons that hung around with Larry would try to get him, but he said definitely not.
"The other kid was afraid to be there, but Larry made him come. He couldn't find the other guys, or he would have made them come too," he said.
"Glen, I want you to go back to school tomorrow. I promise I'll make sure Scary Larry doesn't bother you again," I said, as I put my hand on his shoulder.
I told him that I had already called my contacts in the police department and Scary Larry was being held without bail. The police had been looking for him that day to arrest him for a series of break and enters, as well as the fact he had broken his probation conditions from a previous conviction. I also told him if he did make bail, which according to my contacts wasn't likely, that I would have my private investigator monitor his whereabouts until he went to trial and was incarcerated.
That night Sean and Jake talked to him again and finally they convinced him that he was safe with the plan I had put in place.
"You have to trust Dad, Glen. He keeps his promises," Sean said.
The next morning Glen finally went back to school. He made it through the day and was in a much better frame of mind when he came off the school bus. He was very glad to get back to his art class and his friends. Everyone was very concerned about how he was feeling and he was somewhat of a celebrity.
"He had lots of help carrying his books to class," Sean said.
"Yeah, there weren't any girls left to talk to us," Jake said, as the two boys laughed as Glen blushed.
Glen had made many new friends in the short time he had been going to school in town, however Garth's friends were still mainly from his old neighbourhood. Since Garth wasn't living in the area where he went to school, it was a little hard for him to get together with his school chums. Occasionally Miguel from his old neighbourhood came to play, as we provided the transportation. My great nephew, Derek, had also been getting together with Garth some weekends, as they were both 8 years old and they got along very well. The three boys even had some sleepovers, which they thoroughly enjoyed until the next morning when they were dead tired after staying awake most of the night.
Josh Chambers was coming in one weekend and we had arranged for him to bring his 8 year old identical twin nephews, Matthew and Richard. Derek was invited as well, and all four of the boys were excited, as they were staying for a sleepover and the twins were going back the next day with Josh. We had set up a tent in part of the basement for them and had gone out and purchased some air mattresses and sleeping bags, since it was too cold to camp outside.
Earlier in the week though, we had to do some sex education with Garth as he wanted to invite his friend Mandy from school. He thought nothing of having her sleep with them in the tent. Apparently Mandy was in the same category as Sandy, who he met in Naples. They were cool, as they weren't real girls because they didn't giggle all the time, according to him.
"She could bring her own sleeping bag," he said, with an innocent look.
"I don't think Mandy's parents would think that was a good idea, Garth. Maybe she could come up for the afternoon, but she'd have to go home in the evening," I said.
The two of us gave him our best 8 year old sex explanation and when we were finished he sort of understood. We weren't expecting to get into this with Garth, so we weren't really very well prepared. We fumbled around choosing our words carefully so he'd understand our message without us getting too technical. He decided after we were finished that he would invite her and Miguel up one other weekend to spend time with him, but no sleepover.
"Well that was interesting. I thought I was finished with that little chore," Dana said, with a big smile after he had left the room.
The twins were James Davis' sons. James was Tom Davis' older brother and he had been like a dad to Tom as he grew up after their father, who was a policeman, died in the line of duty.
"Mr. and Mrs. Burger, these are my nephews, Richard and Matthew," Josh said, as they arrived after lunch on the Saturday.
The two boys were cute little guys and they very confidently came forward to shake hands and introduce themselves. They were definitely not shy.
"My name is Richard."
"And my name is Matthew. We're twins."
Dana and I laughed and I said, "We're very pleased to meet you and thank you for pointing that out to us. We would never have guessed." My comment brought big smiles to their faces.
"Come on, guys. You've got to see the tent," Garth said as he grabbed Matthew's hand and the four boys disappeared downstairs.
While the young ones were settling in downstairs, I dropped off Josh, Sean, Jake and Glen at the teen centre to hook up with Stéphane, Charles and Ronald. They were going to hang out for the afternoon, which left the four 8 year olds with Dana and me. We had planned on making cookies with them at some time during the afternoon. It wasn't too cold, as it was near the end of April, so I had planned on taking them out to the park to play some T-Ball, as well. I still had the girls' ball gloves and a t-ball tee from when I had coached them. I had signed up Garth for the summer and Derek also played. I wasn't sure about Richard and Matthew, but they were rough and tumble little boys so I knew if they hadn't played, they would pick it up quickly.
Garth had requested that we get Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to watch. They decided that they wanted to see the movie first, before any other activity. After about an hour we heard what sounded like airplane noises coming from downstairs. Dana and I quietly went to the landing and saw Garth and Derek sitting on the back of the couch with their arms out wide and the twins were doing the same but they were standing up. They were watching the Quidditch match, where Harry was on a flying broom trying to catch a flying ball and they got carried away and were adding their own sound effects. We stifled our laughter and went back upstairs to the Kitchen.
"They're going to need some jet fuel, soon. I think it might be time for popcorn," Dana said, with a big smile.
After the movie they wanted to play video games, but we decided it was time for some fresh air and physical activity to burn off some of that abundant 8 year old energy.
"Boys, you can play video games later. Why don't we go to the field and play some T-Ball. Have you boys played before?" I asked.
"Yes sir," Matthew said.
"We've played for two years," Richard added.
Matthew then said, "Sometimes Uncle Josh comes to our Games... "
Richard finished his statement by saying, "with Uncle Tom."
Dana and I were really amused at how the twins frequently finished each other's sentences. It was so natural, that they didn't realize they were doing it.
We had a lot of fun out in the field. Garth hadn't played very much T-Ball and he was struggling to hit the ball at the beginning. Matthew, who was a very good hitter, decided to give him some tips.
"You just swing the bat back like this... and smack the ball. That's what Mark showed me. He's Josh's friend from Calgary."
After a few more attempts, Garth was making good contact. Richard wasn't as good at hitting, but he certainly could catch and throw. Both Derek and Garth were afraid to catch the ball when he threw it to them.
We had a little game before we went in, and Garth decided to slide into base a couple of times, even though he didn't need to. When he was finished, I knew Dana wasn't going to be too happy at the dirty pair of jeans.
"Were you rolling around on the baseball diamond, Garth Webster? The other boys don't have dirty jeans like you. Put those in the laundry basket and get on a fresh pair before you come back in to make cookies," she said, a little annoyed.
It was quite an experience making cookies with them. When we were finished, it looked like a bomb had hit the kitchen and them.
"I don't know how you boys got so much flour all over you," I said, as I chuckled.
The four of them had a lot of fun and each had spent some time eating the cookie dough, when Dana wasn't looking. After the cookies had baked, we let them eat a couple with some milk. While they were eating, Garth started to tell jokes.
"My friend asked me how I liked school and I said closed!" he said, as the four of them laughed.
Derek told a joke, which we were surprised at, as he was a very shy boy. Spending time with the other three had brought him out of his shell a little.
"Which birds steal soap from the bathtub?" he asked.
The boys didn't come up with the correct answer so finally he said, "Robber ducks," which resulted in another round of laughter.
Finally, not to be outdone, the twins remembered one. Matthew started off by saying, "Knock, knock."
Garth and Derek said, "Who's there?"
"Alaska," Richard said.
Derek and Garth replied and then Matthew said, "Alaska my friend... "
He started to giggle so Richard took over and said, "a question then."
Once again Dana and I were laughing, but not at the jokes.
I left Dana with the young ones and I went and picked up the older boys from the teen centre shortly before dinner time. They told us that Stéphane and Charles were going to camp Tonawonka as well.
"Josh was real persuasive. He helped them ask their parents when they came to get them and they said yes," Sean said, as he smiled.
Before dinner was ready all the boys went downstairs to amuse themselves before we called them to eat. Garth and Derek went with Jake and Sean to the music studio and the twins and Josh went with Glen to the art studio at Josh's insistence.
"Sean and Jake tell me you're quite an artist, Glen. Richard and Matthew like to draw, maybe you could show them some tips," Josh said.
When I went downstairs to call them for dinner Josh asked me to come see what the twins had done.
"Glen's really good. Look what he taught Richard and Matthew," Josh said as I looked at the pencil drawings the twins had done.
Glen had managed to show them how to draw Mickey Mouse and both boys did a credible job. They were beaming as was Josh.
"I hope you have a big fridge at home to display the artwork, boys," I said, as I chuckled.
We thought Garth was a fussy eater, but my great nephew Derek took the cake. While we ate barbequed chicken breasts, with broccoli and roasted potatoes for dinner, Derek had plain penne pasta with a whole wheat bun and carrot sticks.
"Have you ever tried any of the things we're eating?" Dana asked him.
He just gave us his shy smile and shook his head no.
"You're lucky. I have to try everything," Garth said, with a look of injustice.
"And just look at the things you found you liked," I said to him, as I ruffled his hair.
As we were having dinner we could see that Josh was very impressed with Glen's talent. He almost got Glen blushing when he told him that he would be famous one day because of his art. Glen fluffed off his comments as he was getting a little embarrassed and he wanted to keep his cool.
"He's promised to tell me when they've set the date for the art show at the school. I want to see his portfolio and his watercolour that's going to be on the inside of the yearbook for the grade 12's," Josh said, as Glen gave him a look.
"And when were we going to find out about the show and the watercolour, Mr. Webster," Dana said. If looks could kill, Glen would've been dead.
There was an awkward silence and finally Glen said he was going to get around to telling us.
"I guess I forgot," he said, with a sheepish look.
"Thank you, Josh for bringing up the subject," Dana said, as she was still looking at Glen with daggers coming out of her eyes.
After dinner, the older boys were going to go to Darren's house for the evening, as he was having a few boys over to hang around. Darren was the resident jokester from the hockey team. I drove them over and when I got back the four younger boys had gone down to the tent. They were fairly quiet for the longest time and we were hoping that they were winding down. We were just about to go down to tell them to wrap it up and get ready for bed, when we heard lots of noise coming from the tent.
"What's going on, boys?" I asked as we pulled back the flap.
Matthew and Richard had told a ghost story that their Uncle Tom had told them at a campout. Apparently Tom was a master of telling those types of stories and scaring the wits out of the campers at Tonawonka. It appeared that the twins had inherited his story telling ability, as poor Derek was scared silly.
"Derek, there's no such thing as ghosts. Matthew and Richard were only telling a story. It wasn't real, was it boys," Dana said, as she turned to the twins.
The two boys shrugged their shoulders with impish grins on their faces. Finally Derek relaxed when Garth and the boys started to laugh. About a half hour later after we had said goodnight to them, we heard some more noise from the tent. When we looked downstairs Garth and the twins were standing outside the entrance in their pyjamas holding their noses.
"That stinks, Derek," Richard said, with a nasally voice.
After Dana went and sprayed some air freshener inside the tent she laid down the law.
"No more shenanigans, boys. You need to get some sleep."
We had just got the young ones settled down and we got a call from Sean to come and get them at Darren's.
"Isn't this a little early?" I asked, as it was still early evening.
He said that there was a problem but they were Ok and not to worry and that he'd tell us more when I came to get them.
"Darren was playing the choking game with his friend Alex and he almost died," Jake said, as we drove home.
They were down in the Recreation room in the basement and apparently Darren and Alex had left the rest of the guys and went into another room. The two of them had played the game before and Alex used his hands and choked him into unconsciousness, but Darren didn't respond when he let go. Sean and Jake ran upstairs and got his parents when they found out what had happened and Darren's father took over from Josh, who had started CPR on him. Darren's father was a firefighter and he finally brought him back to consciousness. He still wasn't feeling very well after five minutes so they called an ambulance to come and get him.
"Darren was lucky Josh took CPR training in cadets," Sean said.
"Why would anyone take a chance on killing themselves just to get a 10 second high? Life's too precious to be playing a stupid game like that. There are so many people in the world who have to fight every day to stay alive and Darren almost threw his away. I don't understand," Josh said, with that passion in his voice only he could muster.
It was clear all four of the boys were unnerved by the incident and Dana and I talked to them for quite a while to calm them down. They finally went to bed but they were still very concerned as to Darren's condition.
The next morning, the four campers weren't up too early. We had to go down shortly after 9 am. to see if they were awake. The four of them were sound asleep sprawled half in and half out of their sleeping bags. Garth had his Pooh bear, and the others had their teddy bears clutched tightly in their arms. Before we could go back upstairs to get a camera, they woke up.
"If anyone's interested, we're having pancakes upstairs," Dana said, with a big smile. They thundered upstairs with big smiles on their faces.
Josh, Glen, Sean and Jake were still talking about the event from the party, as they were still shaken up by the incident and the fact that Darren could've died. We encouraged the boys to explain what had happened to the younger ones, as we felt this was an important learning opportunity. About 10 o'clock I called over to Darren's house and his father told me he was fine. The boys were relieved.
"There's lots of safe ways to get a thrill instead of doing something stupid like that, guys," Josh said to the twins, Garth and Derek.
This whole incident reminded me that I needed to have a talk with Sean, Jake and Glen about substance abuse. I was guessing that Darren and Alex, as well as some of their other friends had experimented with drugs and alcohol and I was hoping they had not crossed that bridge yet.
Josh and the twins had a good time and were looking forward to getting together again. Despite being very tired, the twins, Garth and Derek were in good humour and were a little sad to have to say goodbye.
"Maybe next time you guys could come to Toronto," Josh said, as they were getting ready to leave.
As the weeks went by, Dana and Susan had been very busy working on the business startup. They had secured the old fire hall and had hired the contractor to redo the bottom floor for the gourmet and gift store and the kitchen for Dana's catering business. They had decided on a name which was "The Old Fire Hall Gourmet".
John was making progress and was involved in the layout of the kitchen, as well as the renovation of the upstairs loft.
"All going well, we should be open for business in September," Susan said.
The loft was going to take a little longer, which was just as well. John's progress had hit a bit of a plateau and he likely wouldn't be ready to move in with the boys when the business opened. Dana had a contingency plan in place if he wasn't able to put in full time hours for a while, but she was really counting on him, as was Susan, to ease into the business before the end of the Fall.
Over the weeks that the three of them had been working on getting things ready, it became apparent that there was more than just a working relationship between Susan and John.
"Who knows, Garth and Glen may turn out to be our grandsons," I said, as I gave Dana a big smile one day after we had returned home from the construction site.
Even though Dana and I were very busy with our lives and the boys, we were keeping in touch with Mrs. Spencer, to make sure she and Carson were coping. The boys were also keeping tabs on Carson at school. He still was being somewhat reclusive and shunning peer contact and his mother, Doreen, was very concerned with his behaviour at home. She had been called by the school a few times over the past weeks as Carson had skipped quite a few classes. He also had been suspended for fighting with his former friend, while they were waiting for the school bus.
When the boys got home one day, they were very animated. After they got their coats off they came into the Kitchen.
"Carson's dad met him as he was going to the school bus today," Sean said.
"He was talking to him and Carson was listening. His father told us to butt out when I told Carson the bus driver was going to leave without him," Jake said.
"He didn't get on the bus, so I guess his father took him," Glen said.
Dana and I were very concerned, as we knew he wasn't permitted to have unsupervised contact with Carson, which was part of his bail conditions. I also was very reluctant to get any more involved than what we had already done, however I was overruled.
"Dad, if we don't help, Mrs. Spencer or Carson could get hurt," Sean said.
Against my better judgement I called their house but there was no answer.
"They aren't picking up because they either see our number on the call display, or they're not there," Dana said, with a very worried look.
We knew Doreen wouldn't be home, as she was likely doing a 10 hour shift at the hospital. She was an RN (registered nurse) in the regional cancer centre and didn't get home until 6 pm., something which had caused problems reigning in Carson.
"I think we should wait an hour and go over shortly after 6 pm. when Doreen's likely arriving home from work. If he's still there, she could be in danger," I said.
After we had dinner I was getting ready to go over to the Spencers' house. I was intending to go alone, but Sean, Jake and Glen insisted on going with me. I wasn't sure if it was because they wanted to show Carson support, or if they felt they needed to protect me.
"Mr. Spencer's car is there," Sean said as we arrived.
"And here comes Mrs. Spencer," Glen said, as we looked down the street.
We met her when she got out of the car in the driveway.
"What is he doing here!" she said.
I asked her if she wanted me to phone the police, but she said no. She couldn't bring herself to do what she knew was the right thing, as she still was clinging to the hope of reuniting her family. I reminded her about the restraining order against her husband, but she wanted to give him another chance.
"Do you want us to go in with you?" I asked.
She was very grateful for the offer and we escorted her into the house.
"Can't you leave my family alone, Burger," Mr. Spencer said, as we entered the Kitchen.
I reminded him that there was a restraining order against him and that he wasn't supposed to be there, but Mrs. Spencer was once again reluctant to be confrontational and allowed him to talk. I was thankful that he didn't appear to have been drinking, so I was hoping that we would have a more rational discussion this time. However, after a few minutes it was apparent that being sober didn't make a difference. He was being very manipulative as he tried to persuade his wife to let him come home. When it was obvious he wasn't sincere and she wasn't going to buy into the deception, his language became abusive.
"You don't mean anything you just said, Mr. Spencer," Jake said, as all three boys moved between him and Mrs. Spencer.
I finally stepped in and told him he had better leave, before I called the police. Mrs. Spencer didn't object, however Carson did.
"It's all your fault, Mom," Carson blurted out. He then went on to use some very unkind language towards his mother and then stomped off to his bedroom.
His mother was now in tears and slumped down in a kitchen chair with her hands in front of her face. Mr. Spencer was making a move to follow Carson but I told him he better leave immediately, which he wisely did. I was very angry with Carson and despite the fact that I understood some of the reasons for his outburst, I wasn't about to let him away with the way he spoke to his mother. I really hadn't had much of a dialogue with him in the months that I had known him, but that was about to change. I told the boys to see what they could do to comfort Mrs. Spencer and I went upstairs to Carson's bedroom. I didn't bother to knock and when I went into the room he was sitting at his desk. He looked around and then turned to ignore me.
I went over and made eye contact with him and said, "Carson, that's your mother you were speaking to. That's the person that gave birth to you. She doesn't deserve to hear her only son be disrespectful to her. I know you want to have your father back home, but it's not her fault that he's not living with you. Your father's sick and needs help. You owe your mother an apology, but above all you need to act like a man and not a spoiled little boy. Your mother needs your support, not your scorn."
I left him to think about what I said and went back down to the Kitchen. Mrs. Spencer had composed herself and the boys were trying their best to pick up her spirits. I told her she should report the incident, but I wasn't sure she was going to take my advice. As we were about to leave, Carson came into the kitchen and it was obvious he had shed some tears. He glanced at me and the boys and made his way over to his mother and gave her a big hug.
"We'll see ourselves out, Mrs. Spencer. If there's anything else we can do, just call," I said. She looked over Carson's shoulder and gave us a feeble smile.
When we got home, Dana was very anxious and wanted to know what happened.
"I hope they're going to be Ok. I told her we were here if she needed us."
Things calmed down in the Spencer household over the next few days. Mrs. Spencer did report the incident which resulted in Mr. Spencer being charged with breaching the conditions of the restraining order. She also booked some sessions with a family counselor for her and Carson which Dana and I felt was a huge step forward.
Despite having four boys in the house, things had settled into a very busy but orderly routine. Early one afternoon I was working in the Den when a phone call came in. I could see from the call display that it was Katie's significant other, Marty. Dana answered it and called me from the Kitchen.
"Al, Marty's on the phone for you."
He told me that he was in the neighbourhood and he wanted to come around to see me. I thought it was odd that he didn't say Dana as well.
The Choking Game explained
The Choking Game - a CBS report