Click button to see the last scene from previous chapter.


© 2012-2013 Ted Louis

Joel VI

Chapter 25

After supper and all the dishes were rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher, the music lessons began. Joel elected to stick to his guitar and Donald decided that Lenore was still too young to benefit from formal piano lessons. Sandra and Connor each gave two lessons that evening and the same on Saturday morning.

Before everyone headed off for bed, Calvin said he needed to change Donald's dressings. It was the first time I had a good look at his wounds. The shoulder wound was not as bad as I had thought. The bullet had passed through the fleshy part of the outer shoulder not hitting any bone. It would take a while before he would recover his full strength in his left arm. The upper thigh wound was more serious since the bullet had also grazed the thigh bone just below the hip joint. The bone bruise would be painful for quite a while. The abdominal wound didn't look bad. There was a small hole in back that had been closed with several small sutures. The incision on the front the surgeons made was approximately two to three inches long. All the wounds appeared to be healing very nicely, in my non-medical opinion.

"Looking good," Calvin said. "We'll start a couple of arm exercises tomorrow. It's not going to be a lot of fun and it'll cause you some discomfort, but if we don't start you could possibly lose some mobility in that arm. The leg can wait another day or two before I can start the therapy on it."

"Not looking forward to that," Donald said. "I'm not that good with pain."

"Dr. Mason sent some pain pills, so if it gets too bad you can have one," Calvin said.

Saturday morning the last music lessons were given after breakfast. Sandra and Connor had been a big hit with their students. The Lees gave them instructions to practice as often as they could, but suggested that it be half an hour every other day.

"Dad," Joel said, as he came down the stairs, "Victor just called and asked if I wanted to play golf. He and a couple of guys on the golf team have a tee time at Canyon Springs for 12:19. Do you care if I go?"

"Of course you may go," I said. "Do I know this Victor?"

"I think you met him last year at a match at River Crossing. He's shorter than me and built like a weight lifter. His nickname is 'Fireplug',"

"Now I remember him. Be sure you grab something to eat before you go. You might get hungry before you get back home."

"I will. Hildy said she would fix me a couple of sandwiches," he said. "Thanks, dad!"

"We're gonna play tennis," Chris yelled, as he and the twins ran in through the patio door and up the stairs.

"Are they good tennis players?" Calvin asked.

"You might say that. If you want to play doubles with them, we have extra rackets," I said.

"I played a little in high school. I might just do that, if my patient can behave himself for a while," Calvin smirked.

"I don't know," Donald said. "I might get a case of the vapors."

"Only little old southern ladies get the vapors, and you don't qualify," Calvin chuckled.

"I have some shorts I think will fit you, if you didn't bring any," I said.

"Thanks, I don't think I want to play in my whites."

I led Calvin into the master bedroom closet and showed him what was available. He looked at several pairs of shorts and held them up to see if they were going to fit before he chose a pair of white shorts. He took them to his bedroom to change.

"Hey, guys, Calvin wants to play doubles with you," I said, as they came running down the stairs.

"Okay," Lenny said. "He can be Chris' partner."

"I've got to watch this," Donald said. He steered his chair to the patio door and I helped him navigate over the threshold. He stopped under the covered area of the patio. "I think I can see from here."

Calvin emerged onto the patio wearing the loaner shorts. They were a little tight across the seat and a little loose around the waist, but they would do.

"You can be Chris' partner," I said. "He's the blond, in case you haven't gotten all the names straight yet."

He took off jogging to the tennis court and joined Chris on his side of the net.

"This ought to be interesting," Donald said. "It looks as if Calvin is in pretty good shape. I wonder how long he can keep up with those three."

As usual, TJ, Peter and William served as ball boys, chasing the occasional errant ball. The match went on for almost an hour before Hildy announced that lunch would be ready in twenty minutes. The thought of food overrode the need to continue the match.

"Okay, guys, go get washed up. You can jump in the pool after lunch," I said, mostly talking to their backs as they rushed inside.

"You never told me those guys were ringers," Calvin said. "If it hadn't been for Chris' quickness, we would have been slaughtered. Those twins are killers. I think I'll stick to the pool from now on."

"A word to the wise, don't challenge Chris to a race in the pool," I said.

"Thanks for the warning," Calvin said, and disappeared into the house.

Once lunch was over, Calvin informed Donald it was time to begin the torture. It consisted of raising and lowering his arm, bending the arm at the elbow and squeezing a rubber ball. The exercises were repeated several times until it was clear that Donald was experiencing a good deal of pain.

"Okay, that's enough for now," Calvin said. "You look like you could use a pain pill about now. Am I right?"

"Yes, definitely," Donald said.

Calvin took a small packet from the pocket of his uniform and handed a capsule to Donald, who eagerly took it and washed it down with a gulp of water.

The exercises were repeated again later in the day without the need for a pain pill. Calvin also had Donald stand and put some weight on the left leg for a few moments. No exercises were done at this time. Calvin's purpose for this was to determine exactly what he would ask Donald to do tomorrow when he started that part of the therapy.

Calvin joined the boys and me in the pool after he had finished with Donald. Unfortunately, Donald was only able to watch from the sidelines. We were joined a bit later by Manfred and the three girls. I think they were fascinated by this dark-skinned black man who was frolicking in the pool with us.

"Donald," Hildy said, approaching where he was sitting in the wheelchair. "This gentleman needs you to sign some papers."

"Mr. Baker, my name is Carl Landers. We have delivered the van you requested. Would you like to inspect it to see if it meets your specifications?"

"Yes, thanks," he said. Turning toward the pool, "Calvin, would you come with me to check out the van? You're the one who will probably need to know all about it."

"Sure thing," Calvin said. "Let me towel off and I'll be right with you."

Naturally, the boys wanted to see what the men had delivered and they, too, exited the pool. Grabbing towels, they dried off on the way to the house.

"You drip water on my floors, you wipe it up," Hildy warned.

By the time I got dried off and walked through the house, the men were demonstrating how the lift deployed from the side of the van. Donald maneuvered his wheelchair onto the lift, secured and pressed a button that the men pointed out. The platform raised and slid inside the van. They pointed out how to secure him with the four-point seatbelts. The process was reversed and Donald guided his chair off the lift.

"Thank you, Carl. I appreciate you working on Saturday to deliver this to me. Let me sign those forms to take possession of the van," Donald said. He signed the papers and then handed Carl and the other man, who had accompanied the van in another car, a twenty dollar bill each.

"Thank you, sir," Carl said, which was echoed by the other man. "A pleasure doing business with you."

Calvin pressed the button and the lift retracted back into the van after which he closed the sliding door by pressing a button on the key fob.

The boys raced back through the house to the pool. Calvin and I lifted Donald and his chair up the front steps. As we did, I asked Donald, "Did you buy that van?"

"Yes."

"But you'll only need it for a short while," I protested.

"When I don't need it anymore, I'll donate it to a charity. I'll get a $55,000 tax deduction."

Calvin looked at me and shook his head. "I know of one in New Orleans that I work with that would really appreciate it."

"Tell me about it," Donald said.

"It's a small charity that was started by one of the Saints' players whose son was wheelchair bound due to an accident. He's no longer with the Saints, but the charity continues. Its purpose is to provide support to children with physical handicaps. It provides braces, crutches, and wheelchairs as well as physical therapy. There are a couple of doctors who provide diagnostic tests and direct another guy and myself in the proper therapy for the kids. We operate on a shoestring with all monies going to pay for the client services. None of us receive any money for what we do. A van like yours would make transporting the kids who need it so much easier."

As Calvin was speaking, I could see that his eyes were glistening and he was blinking more often as if he was holding back the tears. I was impressed with this man. You just can't fake the emotion that he was feeling.

"Give me all the particulars of the charity. I'll look into it and if it checks out with my people, I can assure you that the van will be donated to it," Donald said.

"Bless you," Calvin said, and hurried into the house ahead of us.

We were just beginning to sit down to supper when Joel arrived back from his golf game. "Good, I'm just in time," he said. "I'm starving."

"Hurry and wash up," I told him. When he came to the table, I asked, "How did you shoot?"

"Not that good," he said. "You know that par three with all that tall-grass rough just off the fairway? I sliced my 5-iron and it ended up in that rough. We never found my ball, so I ended up with a double bogey. I double bogeyed another and three putted two greens for bogeys. I shot a 78. At least I beat Victor, he shot a 79."

"I'm sure you'll do better next time," I said.

Sunday went as usual. We went to the ranch to ride the horses. Donald and Calvin stayed at the house. On the way home, the boys wanted a snack, so we stopped at the Sonic for milk shakes. Before bedtime, I made sure that all the homework assignments had been completed and checked.

After delivering the boys to school Monday morning, I received a call from Karl's Kustom Karriages letting me know that the new van would be ready to pick up on Tuesday. There had been so many things going on in the household, I had almost forgotten when the van was supposed to be finished.

Calvin had Donald doing his arm exercises three times a day and had started the therapy on his leg. The bone bruise was causing Donald the most pain. Calvin told him that although the flesh wound would heal fairly quickly, the bruised bone would take much longer to be pain free. Donald was not happy to hear that.

After Calvin became comfortable with everybody in the house and our routines, he was a delightful individual with a quirky sense of humor. He was always ready with his quick wit and some witticism appropriate to the situation. It was not unusual to find either Peter or William or both sitting on his lap as he told them stories in that deep voice of his. I think they will be sad when it comes time for Calvin to leave.

While I was gone to pick up the new van, Donald and Calvin went to Donald's private physician for his appointment in his new van.

Wednesday morning I had just returned from taking all the kids, except Lenore, to school in the new van when the phone rang. It was for Donald from his lawyer, Brian Riggs. He had some information on Kelly.

"Hold on just a minute," Donald said. "I'm going to put the phone down and put you on speaker, that way I can take notes, if necessary. ... Okay, go ahead."

"As it turned out, finding the information about Kelly was easy. It seems that his roommate is into genealogy and had done a family tree on him. You may want to prepare yourself for what I'm going to tell you," Brian said.

"Don't keep me waiting. What is it?" Donald insisted.

"Kelly's last name is Baker."

"So? There are a lot of Bakers," Donald said.

"But this one is related to you," Brian said.

"What?"

"I have a copy of the genealogical chart that Phil, Kelly's roommate prepared. While it does not have the branch of the tree where you reside completely filled out, there is enough there to say for certain that you are a blood relative," Brian said. "I'll fax you the info and you can decide for yourself, if you'll let me know the number."

That was my cue and I rattled off the phone number of my fax machine.

"I have sworn Phil to secrecy to the fact that I've been inquiring about Kelly," Brian said. "I think I can depend on him."

"Keep digging, Brian. I'm going to help the kid out no matter what our relationship turns out to be. Put as many resources as necessary to quickly confirm what this Phil has prepared and any other information that you can dig up."

"Will do, boss. I'll be back in the office in the morning and I can command more resources from there. By the way, how is the healing coming along?"

"Calvin is torturing me three times a day, but other than that, everything is fine," Donald laughed, as Calvin came in and heard the last.

A few minutes later the fax machine in the library started printing. Donald and I went to check out what Brian had sent. After Donald had looked over the three pages of the fax he said, "It appears that my great grandfather and his were brothers. The story that we were always told was that my great grandfather, Nicholas Baker, had an older brother, Alois Baker, who ran away from home at the age of 17 and was never heard from by the family again. The chart says that Alois married Hazel Chandler before entering the army and being killed in the World War I Battle of Cantigny in 1918. A male child named Charles Baker was born to Hazel Baker on June 19, a month after Alois was killed. Charles Baker married Bernice Morris and they had twin boys in 1948, only one survived, Benjamin Baker. Charles died in1950 and Bernice in 1951. Benjamin married Clarisse Wilson and they had one son Kelly in 1979. Both Benjamin and Clarisse died in 1980. That's probably the reason that Kelly was raised in foster homes, since there appeared to be no living relatives. That makes Kelly either 22 or 23."

"If all this is true, then Kelly is a cousin several times removed," I said.

"I'll wait until Brian has completed his research and has properly vetted Kelly before I welcome him into the family. In the meantime, I still plan on helping him with his education. I think at a minimum we can try and get him to apply for a scholarship that he is assured of qualifying for," Donald said. "Do you remember what junior college he is attending?"

"I don't remember him mentioning the name," I said. "I'm sure that Brian will have that information."

"Well, while you get that all figured out, I need to go to the ASEC office. It's been a while since I've been there and I need to check in to see how things are going," I said. "I'll be home in time to get the boys from school."

It was approaching noon by the time I reached the ASEC offices. As I entered, I was greeted by Kenneth Bering. We chatted a couple of minutes before his phone rang and I went to find Darcie.

"Welcome, stranger," Darcie said, as I entered her office. "What brings you here today?"

"I thought I would check to see how things are going and to see if I needed to do anything," I said.

"Things are going very smoothly," Darcie responded. "We're up to our eyebrows in paperwork, as usual. We have about fifty applications for assistance of some kind every week. We're able to help about 80% of those. If we think the other 20% are worthy of some assistance that we don't provide, we try and refer them to the appropriate agency."

"That's great," I said. "I'd like you or someone on the staff to look into a small charity in New Orleans that helps youngsters who have disabilities. It provides braces, crutches, and wheelchairs as well as physical therapy."

"New Orleans is a little out of the area that we normally concentrate in. How do you know about this organization?" Darcie asked.

"It's a long story," I said. "You remember Donald Baker, don't you?"

"How could we forget after that very generous donation that we received?"

"You may have read about him being shot and one of his vice-presidents being killed there in New Orleans." Darcie nodded her head. "Well, due to his injuries, he has a live-in nurse/physical therapist who just happens to be a volunteer with that charity. When he explained what the charity did, I thought it might be something that we could get involved with. I know we have the resources."

"Give me the information that you have on the charity and I'll have one of the staff check it out," she said.

"Good. Now how about lunch? If you can shut down the office for a while, I'll buy lunch for everybody."

"Paul, Carol and Kenneth are the only other ones in the office. The others are out on business. I'm sure they'll be disappointed," Darcie said. "We never pass up a free lunch."

We gathered the other three and after Kenneth rolled the phones to his cell phone, we headed out the door. The consensus was that we should go to Jason's Deli for lunch. It was about a mile away from the office. Everybody climbed into the Lincoln and I drove to the restaurant. "I love their Ruben sandwich," I said.

"Me, too," Darcie said, "but it's so big I can only eat half."

"How about we split one and get a cup of soup to go along with it?"

"Marvelous."

"Carol, is the wedding still on for November?" I asked.

"Yes, I heard from my brother last week. He's supposed to arrive in Los Angeles on November second," she said. "He'll be there a couple of days before he can fly into San Antonio, plenty of time to make the wedding."

"Carol, you never did say what kind of work he did," I said.

"He's a mining engineer. Well, he's really a geologist, working for some big gold mining outfit. I can never remember the name of the company, but it's one of the big ones."

"How long will he be in town?" Paul asked.

"That all depends," Carol said. "He quit his job with the mining company. He said he wants to settle down and not spend all his time outside the US."

We spent most of the time at lunch catching up on each other's lives. All in all it was a very pleasant time. When we got back to the office, I gave Darcie what little information I had on the New Orleans charity that I wanted her to check on. I said my goodbyes and headed back home. I got there just in time to jump in the van and take off to pick up the boys plus Jeannie and Ginny.

"Hi, guys," I said, as I walked up to where TJ, Peter and William were waiting for me. "How was school today?"

"We got a new boy in my class," TJ said. "His name is Alex. He only has one arm. There he is over there. Hi, Alex, see you tomorrow."

Alex waved back to TJ and got into a long, black Mercedes. The door was being held open by a young man in a black suit.

'Must be someone with a lot of money,' I thought.

"What's his last name?" I asked.

"Dubrovsky, I asked him twice to say it. He said it was Russian," TJ answered. "He's a good soccer player. He beat all of us at recess. He's neat."

"I'm glad you made a new friend, being new in school, he needs one," I said.

"Billy and Jeff were making fun of him behind his back 'cause he only has one arm. I told them that was stupid 'cause I had a friend who only has one leg," TJ said.

"I'm proud of you, son. Having a handicap doesn't determine who you are or what kind of person you are," I said, giving him a hug.

"Dad, somebody will see," TJ said, squirming out of the hug.

'My little boy is growing up,' I thought.

The rest of the kids eventually found their way to the van. Chris was the last to arrive. He had to walk his girlfriend to her car and say goodbye to her before he could come to the van. I gave the twins a stare and a shake of my head, warning them to keep quiet as Chris approached.

After supper while the boys were doing their homework, the phone rang. It was Darcie.

"Crane, I called a girlfriend in New Orleans about that charity. She works full time for United Way of New Orleans so I thought she might know something about it."

"What did she have to say?" I asked.

"She said that, although it was not on the master list of charities that were part of the United Way effort, she had heard nothing but good things about it. Because of its small size and the number of clients it served, it didn't meet the criteria for including in the larger organization," Darcie said.

"Did she know who to contact if we wanted to get involved in supporting it?"

"No, but it shouldn't be too difficult to get that information. If you want, I can pursue it further."

"Thanks, Darcie, I'll handle it from here on. I'll let you know when and if we want to get further involved."

When I finished the call with Darcie, I became aware that someone was playing the piano upstairs. I wondered which one of the boys it was. As I listened more closely, I was shocked at how well the person was playing. The Lees must be great teachers if one of their students had progress this far with only one lesson. I went up the stairs and into the media room. I discovered the piano player was not one of the boys, but Calvin. When he completed the piece he was playing, I applauded.

He turned around when he heard me. "I hope you don't mind. I don't get to play that often anymore. I don't have a piano to practice on in my apartment. This is a really nice instrument," he said, running his hand across the wood.

"You're welcome to play anytime you're not involved in Donald's therapy. It might inspire the boys to practice," I said. "Speaking of the therapy, how is it and he progressing?"

"It's going quite well. I think he will be able to do the exercises on his own early next week. He has another doctor's appointment on Monday. After that, it will be up to the doctor to say whether he needs me around to supervise the therapy. If things go on the schedule I've planned out, he should be walking with crutches on Friday."

"Good, I know he's itching to get into his office. He's mentioned that he would like to go there tomorrow, even if it's in his wheelchair," I said.

"I don't see anything that would prevent that," Calvin said. "I'd be along to make sure that he doesn't overdo. He's not going anywhere without me until the doctor says he can manage on his own."

"Can you check my homework?" Peter asked me, as he came into the media room where we were.

"I sure can. Let's go downstairs so I can sit at the table." His and the other boys' homework kept me busy for the next forty-five minutes. By the time I finished, it was time for their snack. Hildy had baked cupcakes, chocolate with chocolate frosting. When they finished, I sent them to their rooms to shower and brush their teeth. "I'll come tuck you in after while," I said.

"If I stick around here too much longer, I'll put on ten pounds," Calvin said. "I can't understand why those boys don't gain weight."

"They get a lot of exercise starting with their morning run and then there's tennis, swimming and chasing the dogs. Then there are the exercise machines in the music room that they can use if the weather is bad. They burn a lot of calories. You're welcome to join our morning run."

Calvin looked at me like I was an alien. "Thanks, but jogging has never been one of my vices. I might make use of the exercise equipment."


Previous Chapter
Next Chapter
Home Page