Tom Harris is injured in a high school football game and ends up in the hospital.
Tanner Knox says he’ll make sure Tom receives reparation for what happened.
Monday Morning, 10/1/2018
Calvin poked Tom in his arm a couple times. “Come on, get up Tom, there won’t be any breakfast left if you don’t get downstairs by seven thirty.”
Tom looked up and saw Calvin and Greg standing next to his bed looking down at him.
“Are you okay, Tom?” Greg asked.
“I don’t feel very good. I’m sort of woozy and I’m really tired.”
Calvin crouched so he and Tom were on the same level. “You still peeing blood?”
“A lot. My urine is so red it looks like it’s half blood now.”
“Jesus Christ!” Greg exclaimed, “you need to get to the hospital. I’m gonna get old lady Wilcox.”
On the one hand, Tom didn’t want Mable Wilcox involved. She was female side of the ‘parents’ of the so-called foster ‘family’ where he’d been moved. On the other hand, he worried about the amount of blood he’d lost, so he didn’t stop Greg.
Calvin and Greg were Tom’s roommates. So much for the supposed CPS rule that each foster kid had to have their own bedroom unless it was a licensed foster facility! And even then, there couldn’t be more than two per bedroom.
“You better get up and get dressed before the witch gets up here. I’ll help.”
Calvin helped Tom into a pair of clean boxer briefs. The pair he’d worn to bed had a large wet blood stain covering and extending beyond the fly, and his sheets were bloody, too. Calvin helped him into a T and clean jeans, and finally socks and sneakers. As he dressed, Tom seemed to lose some of the mental fog he’d had when he woke.
“Hey, no problem. We’ve gotta keep together. You want to head downstairs?”
Mable Wilcox — a.k.a. ‘the witch’ — walked in.
“How come you’re not downstairs, Tom?”
“He’s not feeling very good,” Calvin told her. “He’s peeing a lot of blood. He needs to see a doctor or go to the hospital.”
“He’s the one who decided he should play football. He got injured, and that’s his fault. I don’t pay for things you people do to yourselves after we’ve told you not to do them.”
“That’s bogus, and you know it. You don’t pay a fucking cent for our medical care. We’re supposed to have Medi-Cal cards for our health care. You just won’t give them to us. You insist on going with us.”
“Your smart mouth is going to get you into trouble one of these days, Calvin. Everything we do is exactly what CPS requires.”
“I think that’s bullshit,” Calvin muttered.
He opened the drawer in Tom’s nightstand and took out Tom’s wallet. “Here’s your wallet Tom. I’ll bring your backpack down with me. You need a hand getting downstairs?”
“Thanks, but I can do it on my own. You better head to school.”
“I’ll be okay. You need to get going too, Tom, otherwise you’ll miss the bus.”
Tom turned and looked at Mable. “That reminds me, you didn’t give me my allowance or bus pass yet. May I have them now, please?”
“I don’t have enough cash for your allowance right now. I’ll give it to you tonight. Get downstairs now if you want to eat.”
“I’m not hungry. My stomach doesn’t feel very good. Can I have my bus pass so I can get to school?”
“George should have your bus pass. Ask him when you get downstairs.” She checked her watch. “I’m running late. Good thing you don’t want any breakfast ’cause I don’t have time to make it for you, anyway.”
She rushed downstairs; Tom and Calvin followed at a much slower pace, Tom walking carefully because he still had a bit of his dizzy spell, and Calvin walked next to him so he could catch him if he started to fall. By the time Tom and Calvin got to the kitchen Mable had left the house.
George Wilcox sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper.
“George, may I have my bus pass, please? Mable said you had them.”
George lowered the newspaper enough so he could look over the top. “I don’t have any bus passes. That’s her job. Ask her tonight.”
“Today’s October first, and I need a new bus pass.”
“I said, ask her tonight.”
“Then I’ll need money to pay for my bus. Mable told me she didn’t have any cash to give me my allowance for this week. Can you pay me my allowance now, please?”
“That’s her job. You’ll have to ask her tonight. Hear me, boy?”
“I need enough to pay the bus fare. How about two dollars? Otherwise, I’d have to walk to school and I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. I’m peeing blood from the hit I took at Friday night’s game.”
“Calvin, give this pansy some money so he won’t have to get into a sweat hurrying to school today.”
“I didn’t get my allowance either. All I’ve got is my bus pass and my lunch ticket. I don’t even have any change. Same story as last month and the month before.”
“You sassing me, boy? I’ll dock your god damn allowance if you keep sassing me!”
“All I have to say is I’d better get my allowance tonight, and it fucking better be the whole amount, or I’m reporting you to CPS! In fact, I think I’m gonna report you anyway. Today. You hear me, sir?” He turned and looked at Tom. “I’m out of here. You better get to the hospital. Ask sir here to take you.” Calvin walked out and slammed the back door hard, behind him.
Tom felt woozy, and he had to pee again. He went to the downstairs bathroom and what he saw in the toilet scared him. It looked like he’d urinated nothing but blood. He didn’t bother flushing the toilet. He came out of the bathroom and held onto the back of a chair opposite Mr. Wilcox.
“My urine looks like pure blood. I don’t feel very good. Could you drive me to the hospital, please?”
George slammed his newspaper onto the tabletop and looked up with a scowl. “Boy, we told you we’re not taking care of anything you cause yourself, and you playing football isn’t part of the package we agreed to when we said we’d foster you. You get a little blood in your pee then it’s your fault. Just man-up and walk to school like you’re supposed to. Understand? Boy?”
Tom just stood there looking at him.
“I said, understand, boy? You answer me, boy!” George shouted.
“Or what?” Tom yelled back at him. “I’m not supposed to walk to school, it’s three miles. You’re supposed to give me an allowance on time every weekend, and my bus pass on time the Friday before the new month. You fucking touch me, and I’ll call the cops. You understand me?”
“You threatening me, boy?”
“Yeah, I am.”
George started laughing. “You get your butt outta here before I decide to take you up on that offer.” He picked up his newspaper and held it so Tom couldn’t see his face any longer and he couldn’t see Tom, either.
Tom picked up the other sections of the newspaper which were laying unopened on the table, then walked out the back door and left it open. “Fuck you, asshole,” he shouted as he slowly walked down the steps to the driveway. Along the way he dumped the newspaper he’d picked up into an open, half-full garbage can. About halfway to the sidewalk he heard the door slam, a lot harder than Calvin had slammed it. “I hope you broke the fucking door,” he thought, then he turned west toward school.
He continued thinking about where he’d been moved. ‘I have got to get out of that dump. Supposed to be a nice foster family according to that new caseworker from CPS. Some foster family. With three kids in each bedroom and nine of us in all, this isn’t a foster family. And when are nine kids allowed to be fostered in one place unless it’s in a real group home? Mable Wilcox wants as many foster kids that they can cram into their house. They’re taking the state’s money and not doing squat for us foster kids. I’ll bet it’s a scam and the caseworker is in on it.’
After he’d walked for about 10 minutes, Tom calculated that at the speed he could walk it would take him at least forty-five minutes or more to walk to Edison High School. As he walked, the early October morning sun got hotter and hotter. He was starting to feel worse than when he left the Wilcox house. He realized that he wouldn’t be able to make it to school.
Tom hadn’t arrived at the bus stop yet. He stopped and thought for a few seconds to see if he could come up with an option to get to school and see the nurse. No money for the bus, no one around who might loan him a couple dollars. Maybe he could hitch. He turned, walked to the curb, and waited for a car to come by. The traffic was light at this time of the morning. That the few cars that passed had no interest in picking up a teen. He found that he couldn’t hitchhike and walk backward at the same time; he felt like he’d trip and fall.
He turned and returned to the sidewalk, then continued to slowly walk down Terrace Avenue. When he got to the corner of Oak Court he remembered that Tanner Knox lived on Oak Court, two or three blocks up the street. He’d been there several times, most recently for a pool party after practice. They were good friends. Maybe Tank could give him a ride to school, assuming he hadn’t left yet.
What Tom didn’t know was that Cal had arrived at the bus stop and decided he’d had enough of Mable and George Wilcox. He’d threatened to report them to CPS and by god that’s exactly what he was going to do. Right then and there. He called the Pleasant Hill CPS office.
“Child Protective Services. How may I direct your call?”
“My name is Calvin Alciano. I’m in a foster home, and I have a complaint. I want to talk to a manager, not to my caseworker. She’s the one I have the complaint about.”
“I’ll connect you with Catherine Parsons. She’s the Supervisor of the caseworkers.”
Cal spoke with Catherine Parsons for few minutes, long enough that he missed the first bus. She took his cellphone number and said he should wait at the bus stop and she’d pick him up in about five minutes and bring him to her office. Then they’d talk so she could obtain more details about what was going on at the Wilcox house.
When the call ended he was grinning, then he started to laugh, and thought, ‘Got you, you fucking assholes!’
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