My novel, Letters to Santa is now available. https://www.createspace.com/7362907
This is to inform that my graphic art for the original cover of Those You Trust is now fully copyrighted to me. no one may use it without my express permission. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all so-called artists who like to claim that scanning, tracing, and colouring equals hand-drawn art. It doesn’t and you cannot claim it as your own…period.
Carlos was lying still inside the MRI scanner, as the doctor had instructed. He could hear a faint boom boom, in spite of the heavy earphones he was wearing, and started to tap his hand in time the beat.
“Sweetie, you have to stay completely still,” Dr. Matthews voice came through the headphones.
“It’s alright, but if you stay still, the faster you can come out,” she said.
“I kinda like it in here.”
“It can be peaceful, but please try,” she said.
“I will,” Carlos promised.
A few minutes later Dr. Matthews voice came back over the headphones. “You did great, Carlos. The bed is going to start moving in just a couple of minutes.”
“Okay!” Carlos said.
The bed started moving out of the scanner and Carlos watched with fascination. Dr. Matthews and a nurse were waiting for him. She smiled down at him. “Now we’ll get you into a room and you can get some rest.”
“That tube is so cool! It’s like something in a movie,” Carlos said.
“It is,” she agreed as she and the nurse secured him to a backboard.
“Do I have to sleep on this?”
“No, but we want to be careful while we move you,” she explained.
“Am I going to be able to feel my legs soon?” Carlos asked.
“We’ll know more once we get the results of this test, but I think you’re going to be alright,” she said.
“It feels weird,” he said.
“Like when your foot goes to sleep,” he said.
“Do you feel any tingling?”
“A little bit,” he told her.
He thought for a moment. “Mostly around my knees.”
“Yep,” he said and tried to stifle a yawn.
“Okay, let’s get you to your room so you can get some sleep,” she said, nodding to the nurse and orderly who started wheeling the bed out of the room.
“Is Logan okay?” Carlos asked.
“I’m sure he is, I think you’re going to be sharing a room with him,” Dr. Matthews told him.
“Good, I can’t believe he broke his arm again,” Carlos said.
“I think Dr. Barnes said it’s just a hairline fracture, so it should heal quickly.”
“I hope so. Coach is not going to be happy if he can’t play.”
“Coach Banner, he’s our hockey coach,” Carlos said quietly.
“Are you alright?” Dr. Matthews asked, noting the sudden quietness of the boy.
Carlos looked up at her and smiled. “I’m fine.”
She squeezed his hand. “I know this is scary, but the fact you have tingling in your legs is a very good sign.”
“Yes, really,” she said softly.
“O-Okay, I just don’t want Loges to blame himself. I asked him if we could take Wagonny out, I made him promise me. It was just an accident,” Carlos said.
“I’m sure it was and I’m sure he’ll be alright, too.”
Carlos crooked a finger and she leaned down. “Am I going to be able to walk?”
“I think so. I’ll know more after we get these results, but I think it’s probably just some swelling on your spine.”
“Can you fix it?” Carlos asked.
She nodded. “If it’s just swelling, we can give you some medicine to help bring the swelling down. It may take a few days though,” she told him.
“I can deal with that.” Carlos smiled.
“I know you can. You are a very brave young man.”
Carlos shook his head. “I’m not brave, I’m scared.”
“Being able to deal with something when you are scared, if a very special form of bravery,” Dr. Matthews said.
“Yes, now let’s get you to your room so you can get some rest,” she said.
“I am kinda tired,” Carlos said.
“I bet you are,” she said, squeezing his hand again.
“Papi and Mami are going to be so worried.”
“It’s alright, that’s what parents do,” she said.
“I guess. W-What happens if I never feel my legs again?” Carlos asked quietly.
“Let’s not worry about that now. If the test shows what I think it will, you’ll be up a running around in no time,” she said reassuringly.
“B-But if not, I’ll have to use a wheelchair?”
“If that were the case, yes, but let’s not worry about anything until we know what’s going on,” she said.
“Okay, but it’s n-not easy to n-not think,” he said quietly.
“I know it isn’t,” she said.
“I’ve p-played hockey since I was really l-little,” Carlos said, tears stinging his eyes.
“Do you know there are thousands of people who use wheelchairs and still do everything, including hockey?” she asked as they headed back to his room.
“I could still play hockey?”
“Yes, you could. It’s a little different though. Paraplegics use a type of sled, instead of skates, but it’s still as exciting,” she told him.
“Cool!” Carlos smiled, relieved that he wouldn’t have to give up hockey if he couldn’t walk again.
They got to Carlos’ room and found his parents, Jo, and Jen quietly talking. Logan was sound asleep and Jo was sitting in a chair next to his bed.
Sylvia jumped up and went over to him, standing back as the nurses carefully removed the backboard and got him settled into bed. “How are you, Mijo?” Sylvia asked, kissing his forehead.
“Tired, Mami. Is Logan okay, now?” Carlos yawned.
“He’s doing just fine, he’s worried about you, though,” Sylvia told him.
“I’m okay, the tube is really cool,” he said.
“I think he means the scanner,” Dr. Matthews said.
“Do you know what’s going on yet?” Sylvia asked quietly.
“I should have the results soon, but he already has some sensation around his knees, which is a good sign,” Dr. Matthews said.
“He does, really?” Sylvia asked, trying not to cry again.
Dr. Matthews nodded and patted her shoulder.
“It’s going to be okay, Mami. Did you know that I could still play hockey, even if I couldn’t walk?” Carlos asked, smiling at her.
“What?” Sylvia asked.
“There are hockey players who use special sleds instead of skates, so I could still play. Can we go to one of those games, sometime?” Carlos asked, yawning again.
Sylvia looked at Antonio, shaking her head, but smiling a little. She marveled at her son and how nothing ever kept his spirits down for long. She kissed his forehead again. “Of course we can, Carlitos.”
“It’s time for you to get some sleep now,” Antonio said, tucking him in.
“Okay, can we go soon?” Carlos asked as he closed his eyes.
“I’ll find out where they’re playing,” Antonio promised, kissing his son on the forehead.
“It would be cool,” Carlos mumbled as drifted off to sleep.
“When will you know more?” Sylvia asked Dr. Matthews.
“It should be any time now, and once we know for certain we can treat the injury appropriately.”
“Do you really think he’ll be alright?” Sylvia asked.
Dr. Matthews nodded. “I’ve seen quite a few injuries like this and often it’s swelling compressing the spine. Once the swelling goes down, motor function usually returns to normal. He’ll have to take it easy for awhile and probably need physical therapy, but we’ll have the orthopedist see him in the morning and they can decide what we do next,” she explained.
“Thank you, doctor. I’m sorry if I’m asking so many questions, we do trust you,” Sylvia said.
“Don’t ever apologize for asking questions, I wish more people would. Doctors don’t always have all the answers, it’s called ‘practice’ for a reason.” Dr. Matthews smiled.
Sylvia smiled back. “Thank you.”
Dr. Matthews patted her shoulder. “You’re welcome. Why don’t you try to get some rest and I’ll go see where we are at with the test results.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Sylvia said.
“I understand. I’ll go see if they have the results yet, maybe that will help,” Dr. Matthews said, as she headed out the door.
“I think I’ll go get the other boys so they can say goodnight,” Jen said.
“We haven’t heard anything from John, so they’re probably still in the cafeteria,” Antonio said.
“Maybe we should all invest in handcuffs.” Jen laughed as she started out the door.
Kendall and James ran from the cafeteria and stopped before the reached the elevators.
“Now what?” James asked.
“I’m not sure, I really didn’t think we’d make it this far,” Kendall admitted.
“Do you think John called Papa G yet?”
Kendall smirked as he pulled John’s cell phone out of his jacket pocket. “Nope.”
“How do you do that?” James asked.
“The same way you tied his shoelaces together, diversion,” Kendall told him as they walked slowly towards the elevators.
They waited until the elevator doors opened and a nurse walked out and headed down the corridor. They ran for the elevator and slipped through the doors before they closed. Kendall pushed the button for the third floor.
“Aren’t they on the fourth?” James asked.
“Yes, but if we get off on the fourth floor, someone may see us,” Kendall explained as the elevator stopped and the doors opened.
“Good point,” James said.
Kendall peeked out into the hallway and then nodded at James. They slipped out and were halfway down the hallway when they heard voices coming towards them. They quickly made their way to the stairway entrance. James pulled the heavy door open and then carefully closed the door behind them.
They walked up the stairs to the next floor. James looked through the small window on the door, to see if anyone was close. “It’s clear.”
Kendall opened the door and checked both ways before stepping into the corridor. They had just started down the hallway when Kendall suddenly grabbed James’ arm and yanked him into a room.
“What the heck?” James yelped.
“My mom,” Kendall hissed, putting his hand over James’ mouth.
They both held their breath as Jen walked past where they were hiding to the elevators. As soon as she got in and the doors closed, they relaxed.
“Where so you think she’s going?” James asked.
“Probably to check on us, so that gives us about five minutes,” Kendall told him.
“To do what?”
Kendall looked around the room and smiled, they were hiding in a supply closet. “I don’t think they’ll find us here, so we wait until my mom calls Papa G and they go looking for us.”
“They won’t all go though,” James pointed out.
“I know, but Mama G and Mama M won’t kick us out right away. That way we can see them, before Papa G and my mom get back,” Kendall said.
“And John,” James said, reminding his friend about the other man.
“Oh yeah, he’s not going to be happy.”
“Especially since this is the second time we got away from him.” James smirked.
“Yeah, he’s probably really not going to be happy about that.”
Antonio, Sylvia, and Jo were talking when Antonio’s cell buzzed. “Garcia.”
He listened for a moment, shook his head and started laughing.
“What?” Sylvia asked.
Antonio put his phone on speaker. “Jen, can you say that again?”
“I asked if you have a key that would work on John’s handcuffs,” Jen repeated.
“Why do you need a key?” Jo asked, already suspecting she knew the answer.
“Our dear friend here was the victim of foul play. He was set upon by two nefarious individuals who overpowered him, again, and handcuffed him to the table,” Jen said, trying not to laugh.
“They handcuffed him to the table? Where did they get handcuffs?” Sylvia asked, looking at Antonio.
Antonio held his hands up. “Don’t look at me, mine are in the car.”
“Did I forget to mention that they somehow got his cuffs off and then used them on him?”
“Oh boy,” Antonio said, imagining the look on his partner’s face.
“You are all VERY funny, now will you please get down here and unlock these things. I’ve got some hunting to do!” John’s yelled.
“I’ll be right down,” Antonio said, still laughing.
The wind was crisp and cold and it chapped their cheeks as Wagonny sped down the hill. Carlos and Logan were both laughing as they held on for dear life. Wagonny showed no signs of slowing and Logan started to worry as they started to approach another turn. He put his foot down to try and slow the wagon, but it didn’t help, and he pulled his foot back in, worried he might flip them. He used the handle to try to steer it towards the grass, but the toy seemed to have taken on a mind of it’s own and stayed in the middle of the road. He watched as the hill suddenly grew longer and steeper, and he could hear Carlos urging him to stop.
“We’re going to crash!” Carlos yelled.
“I can’t make it move!” Logan yelled back.
“LOGES, DO SOMETHING!” Carlos screamed, pointing at the truck at the bottom of the hill.
“I CAN’T!” Logan yelled, bracing himself for the impact. He managed to get the wagon to turn slightly and they narrowly missed the truck. He let out the breath he had been holding and then screamed in horror as the wagon headed for the huge tree on the side of the road. The wagon wouldn’t turn and a moment later, everything went black.
Logan wasn’t sure how long he was out, and when he tried to move, everything hurt. He rolled over onto his back and then sat up. He groaned as a pain shot through his side and shoulder. He took a deep breath and forced himself to his feet so he could look for his friend. He saw Carlos lying about thirty yards away and made his way over to him.
He knelt next to the other boy and gently patted hs shoulder. “Los, are you okay?”
Not getting a response he carefully rolled his friend onto his back. He stared in shock at the bone portruding through the skin, halfway between Carlos’ left ear and shoulder. Blood dripped from his nose, and his eyes were open and unseeing.
“LOS, NO!” Logan screamed.
“CARLOS!” Logan screamed, struggling to sit up in bed.
Jo and Sylvia both jumped and ran to his bed, trying to keep him from hurting himself.
“Honey please, everything is alright, it’s just a bad dream,” Joanna said trying to comfort her son.
“I KILLED HIM!” Logan screamed.
“Logan, Carlos is alright, he’s sleeping in the next bed,” Sylvia told him.
“No, no, no,” Logan sobbed.
“Baby, he’s okay I promise,” Joanna said, fighting back tears of her own.
The nurse came running in, Dr. Matthews was right behind her. “What happened?” Dr. Matthews asked, taking in the scene.
“He’s having a nightmare,” Sylvia told her as the nurse took her place.
Dr. Matthews looked at Logan’s chart and then at the nurse. “.5 Diazepam, please.”
“Yes, doctor,” the nurse said and ran to get the vial. She returned a moment later and showed the vial to Dr. Matthews, who nodded. The nurse pulled up the Diazepam and injected it into the port on Logan’s catheter. A moment later the teen stopped screaming and struggling as the drug took hold.
“I’m sorry,” he cried as he fell back to sleep.
“It’s going to be alright, baby,” Jo whispered, brushing his bangs back off his forehead.
“He’ll be alright, sometimes the drugs can cause hallucinations,” Dr. Matthews said reassuringly.
“I hope so,” Jo said.
“Please tell me you have good news because Logan will never forgive himself if Carlos is paralyzed,” Sylvia said quietly.
“P-Paralyzed, Carlos is paralyzed?” Kendall asked, from the doorway.
He and James had been in the supply closet, waiting for an opportunity to make their way to the room, when they heard Logan screaming. They had both taken off at a dead run, trying to get to their friend, and had gotten to the room only to hear Sylvia say Carlos is paralyzed. They were both standing there in shock, staring at their two sleeping friends. Sylvia quickly went over to them and put an arm around each boy.
“Mijos, everything is going to be alright…isn’t that right Dr. Matthews?” Sylvia asked hoping to hear her son was going to be alright.
Dr. Matthews gave the boys a sympathetic smile and waved them into the room. “Why don’t we talk?”
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I tend to overthink and over analyze things. I’m sorry that my sense of right and wrong is too strong, and I go overboard trying to make sure that things stay fair. I guess it’s because I know what it feels like to have no one fight for me, even those who promised they would. Even those who should have because that’s what mothers are supposed to do. I’m sorry that my concerns are silly or seem inconsequential. I guess silly things just matter to me, like not letting someone take advantage of another who doesn’t know everything that’s going on. I’m sorry that I’ve never posted a photo, I’m insecure and I hate the way I look. I’m not special, pretty, or a size two. I’m sorry I’m not good at being lonely, even though I am usually alone. I’m not good with people and I guess that’s the reason. Animals are easier and don’t leave because you they get tired of you. I’m sorry if I annoy you when I try to chat. Even though we may not have much in common, I love talking to you. I’m sorry I can’t take the hint that maybe people don’t want to talk because they don’t answer unless they have to, or because they rarely initiate a conversation. I’m sorry if I feel the need to keep others safe from people who think it’s okay to belittle and harass them. I spent too many years being bullied to just let it go. As someone once said, sometimes I’m like a pitbull with a bone. I’m sorry that people seem to think I don’t know my flaws. I am actually well aware of them and I’m sorry if my feelings get hurt when they are pointed out, time after time after time. They include, but are not limited to, being stubborn, opinionated, overly sensitive, not sensitive enough, vengeful, unforgiving, and always taking pride in the wrong things. I’m sorry if I live too much inside my head, but you see, I have friends and family there, and they won’t leave me. I’m sorry I assumed you thought of me as a friend, simply because I consider you one. I do that a lot and you would think I would learn, because sooner or later, everyone leaves. I’m sorry.
Antonio sat there silently as Sylvia paced back and forth in front of him. “When are they going to get back? What if this is permanent? What are we going to do?”
Antonio reached up and took her hand. He pulled her into the chair next to him and put his arm around her shoulders. “Honey, it’s only been fifteen minutes. The doctor said it would be at least an hour. As for the rest, we will do what we need to do.”
Sylvia lay her head on his shoulder. “How?” she asked, feeling completely overwhelmed. The doctor had ordered another MRI, this time of Carlos’ lower spine.
“I don’t know, but we will,” Antonio promised.
There was a quiet knock at the door and Jen looked in. “Any news yet?”
Antonio shook his head. “It’s going to be awhile.”
“How are you holding up?” Jen asked as she went over and sat on the other side of Sylvia.
“My baby can’t feel his legs, Logan is going to blame himself, and I have no idea how to help either of them,” Sylvi said, choking back a sob.
“Sweetheart, Carlos will be fine, The doctor said that temporary paralysis is common after an injury like this,” Antonio said.
“What if it’s not temporary? Sylvia asked, tears pooling in her eyes.
“It WILL be,” Jen said hugging her friend.
John was still sitting in the cafeteria with Kendall and James. He was watching the two boys like a hawk, and wasn’t buying their sudden obedience. The two were talking quietly about their last hockey practice and how they could improve their passing skills. He yawned and was in desperate need of another cup of coffee.
“I can get you a refill,” James offered.
“Not a chance, you two are staying right there,” John said firmly.
“I was just trying to help,” James pouted, trying to cross his arms over his chest.
“Hey!” Kendall said, yanking his own arm back.
James pulled his arm back. “Knock it off!”
“YOU knock it off!” Kendall said, pulling back.
James immediately yanked his arm over again. “What are you going to do about it?”
Kendall glared and suddenly jumped on James and the two tumbled off the chair. “THIS!”
“Hey!” John yelled and jumped up. He grabbed each boy by an arm, hauled them up, and pushed them back into their respective chairs.
“He started it,” James said.
“I did not, YOU did!” Kendall said, yanking his arm back over.
“Do not start that again!” John ordered. He stood up and pushed a chair between the two boys. He kept a firm grip on Kendall’s arm as he unlocked the handcuff and pulled it through the opening on the back of the chair and then hooked it back on Kendall’s wrist.
“Hey!” Kendall protested.
John looked down at them, satisfied. He slipped his keys back into his pocket. “Good. Now I’m going to get another cup of coffee and you are both to behave. Is that understood?”
Kendall yanked on the cuff, moving the chair and bumping John’s leg, but it didn’t go any further.
“This isn’t fair,” James huffed.
John smirked and ruffled his hair. “Life isn’t fair, kiddo.”
“MY hair!” James shrieked, trying to smooth it back down with his one free hand.
John laughed. “Behave, I will be right back.”
James leaned towards Kendall as John walked towards the coffee stand. “Well?”
Kendall smirked and dangled John’s keys. He watched John carefully and as soon as the man looked away to pour his coffee, he quickly unlocked the cuffs and then palmed the keys again. He took the cuff from James’ wrist and hooked it to the metal brace under the table. “Hold your arm still and wait for my signal.”
James smiled and nodded.
John walked back over to the table. “Well, I see you’re both still here.”
“Very funny,” Kendall glared.
John smiled as he set his coffee on the table. “Maybe this will teach you little monsters to behave.”
“It’s not very comfortable,” Kendall said pulling on the cuff a little.
“Yeah, we have to hold our arms funny because of the chair,” James complained.
John looked at them. “Alright, if you promise no more fighting, I’ll remove the chair.”
“We promise,” they both said.
John went over to the chair, and the next thing he knew, his right arm had a handcuff on it. Both boys scooted out of reach and Kendall smiled at him, holding his keys up. “Missing something?”
“How did you do that?” John asked in shock.
“Trade secrets.” Kendall smirked.
“Give me the keys,” John ordered, yanking his arm and moving the table an inch or so.
Kendall snorted. “I don’t think so.”
“Give them to me now and we’ll forget this ever happened,” John promised.
Kendall shook his head, no.
“You’re going to be sorry,” John warned.
“Yeah, we hear that a lot,” Kendall said.
“I mean it!” John said, exasperated.
James reached over and ruffled John’s hair. “Life isn’t fair, old man.”
John grabbed for him with his left hand, but James was too quick for him.
“Well…bye!” Kendall smiled. He and James took off running through the cafeteria doors again.
“Great,” John said as he reached for his cell phone, only to realize it was missing as well. He shook his head as he sat down. “It’s going to be a long night.”
Joanna shook her head at Logan as the boy giggled and tried to touch the monitors. “Mama, my hands are on upside down.”
“Why do you think that?”
“They won’t go up!” Logan said trying to figure out how to move his immobilized arm.
“You have a shoulder brace and a splint your arm,” Jo told him.
Logan looked at her, shock on his face. “What did I didn’t do to do that?”
Jo laughed at him. “Sweetie, why don’t you try getting some sleep.”
“S’not funny. When do they bring the elephants back, they didn’t find them, did they?” Logan asked as he yawned.
Joanna pulled out her phone and set it to record. “What elephants, Logan?”
“Shhh, the ones in the attic. Papa G will make us take them back if he finds them.”
“Maybe they’re with the giraffes,” Jo suggested.
“Pshh, mom, you CAN’T hide giraffes with elephants,” Logan said.
“They’re too tall! Only zebras and elephants can hide together. Giraffes have to hide with the chimps,” Logan told her, yawning again.
“Why is that?”
“Because the chimps can swing from them so people think they’re trees,” Logan said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“That’s a new one, and I’ve heard a lot of interesting things here, in recovery.” Dr. Barnes laughed.
“Well, this is new to me so I’m recording it for posterity,” Jo said.
“They’ll be taking him to his room in a few minutes and he’ll probably sleep the rest of the night,” Dr. Barnes told her.
“Thank you doctor, I really appreciate everything.” Jo said.
“You’re very welcome, but I might want a copy of that recording, he definitely has an amazing imagination.”
“I’ll send you a copy,” Jo promised.
Half an hour later Logan was in his room, sleeping. Jo was quietly talk to Antonio and Sylvia, who were still waiting to hear about the MRI results.
“They don’t know anything?” Jo asked.
“They should be bringing him back any minute. The doctor said she should have results in the next half an hour or so,” Sylvia told her.
“She also said that temporary paralysis is fairly common with this type of injury,” Antonio said reassuringly.
“So he’ll be alright,” Jo said, hugging Sylvia.
“I hope so,” Sylvia said, trying not to cry again.
“M-Mom, C-Carlos is paralyzed?” Logan asked quietly. He had heard voices and had woken once he realized the tone was serious.
“It’s just temporary,” Jo said, going over and sitting next to him.
“N-No, this c-can’t be true! It’s all my fault, I did this!” Logan said.
“Logan, it’s alright. He’s going to be just fine,” Antonio said going over to stand next to him.
“It’s my fault! Why did I even consider it after last time! It’s all my fault!” Logan cried, completely inconsolable. He started to hyperventilate and the alarms on the monitors started beeping.
“Honey, calm down!” Jo said trying to hold him.
“I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry! Please, please make him be okay!” Logan sobbed, He lost consciousness, as the nurse came running in.