Reparation by Colin Kelly

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.

Chapter 5

Monday Morning, 10/1/2018

Another woman walked up. It seemed to Tom that the restriction on people being in the hall outside of the ER examination rooms was being ignored.

“I’m Donna Strallen, Tom Harris’s CPS caseworker.” She turned to Mable Wilcox. “Mable, I got a call from the school saying Tom was in the hospital. What happened? Where is he?”

“In this examination room, number fourteen. There’s a big problem, Donna….”

Tanner heard their conversation, so he interrupted.

“Tom lost a lot of blood, and he’s about to get a transfusion. The approval form is being signed now. The doctor said Tom might need an operation.”

He glared at Mable Wilcox. “You run the place where Tom was moved. You wouldn’t give him his allowance for the week or his bus pass. He had blood in his urine. A lot of blood. You refused to take him to the hospital. What the hell kind of foster parent are you?”

He turned to Donna Strallen. “And what the hell kind of CPS caseworker are you? You’re the one who pulled Tom out of a home with a family that loved him and wanted him, then you moved him to a place where he has to share a room with two other guys. You said CPS moved him because the foster family filed a complaint that he had attacked their two kids. They said they didn’t file a complaint and that Tom never attacked their kids, and they tried to get Tom back. Someone at CPS told them that nothing could be done. I assume that someone was you.”

Catherine Parsons came out of room fourteen. “Tanner, I overheard what you said. Mable and George Wilcox aren’t foster parents any longer. CPS has revoked their license for cause. Donna Strallen has been terminated as a CPS caseworker effective immediately. Her actions have been investigated, and criminal charges are in the process of being filed.”

“What! You can’t do that to me!” Donna shouted. “I’ve been with CPS for almost fifteen years! You can’t… I’ll sue you!”

“You better get a good lawyer. You’ll need one.”

Tanner grinned. It was the second time he’d heard Mrs. Parsons respond that way when she was told she was being sued.

“What do you mean?” Donna Strallen demanded.

“We’ll get into that when I see you in my office at one PM this afternoon. The meeting is not optional. The CPS director for the Bay Area will be there.”

She returned her gaze to Mable Wilcox. “Your fostering license is for a family home that takes in one or two foster children, each with their own bedroom. We’ve been investigating a complaint from two of the boys you’ve been fostering. You were fostering nine boys with three boys in each of three bedrooms. You’ve been running an unlicensed and therefore illegal group home. That’s why your fostering license has been revoked. The nine boys have been contacted. They and their belongings are being permanently removed from your premises. They will be transferred to individual foster homes. In most cases, it will be the same foster family you’d transferred them from to be in your illegal group home.”

“You can’t do that!” Mable screeched.

“Yes, I can. The revocation of your fostering license has been filed with Child Protective Services headquarters in Sacramento. A lawsuit for failing to have a license for a group home for foster children has been filed with a demand that all state funds paid to you that were illegally claimed are to be returned.”

Mable grabbed Donna’s arm.

“Donna, you said what we were doing would be approved, that you’d take care of everything! But everything you and I and George did — it’s all falling apart!”

Donna Strallen pulled her arm away from Mable’s grip. Her response was to shake her head and put out her right palm, indicating she wanted Mable to stop talking. But Mable wouldn’t stop.

“Donna, talk to me! That woman said George and I were being sued. She said we have to give back the money! Where are we supposed to get the money? Including what we’ve been giving you each month for each boy?” She grabbed Donna Strallen’s arm again. “Answer me!” she screeched.

“Shut up!” Donna growled with her teeth clenched. Then she pulled her arm away from Mable’s grip.

That’s when a Walnut Creek policeman arrived, led down the hall by the hospital guard.

 “That’s the woman who forced her way past my station into this restricted access hallway,” the guard said, pointing to Mable Wilcox. “Then she tried to gain access to this ER examination room, number fourteen. In doing so, she assaulted the teenager standing there as he tried to block her access. She claims that he attacked her, but he didn’t. As soon as she forced her way past me, I took out my phone and started taking the video I showed you. We want her arrested.”

The policeman walked up to Mable Wilcox.

“Excuse me, ma’am. You’ll need to come with me.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“We’ll discuss that when we’re out of this restricted area.”

As the policeman took her arm and firmly escorted Mable back to the reception area she looked back at Donna Strallen, who didn’t look happy, and Donna followed them.

Doctor Hamilton, the urologist, came out of Tom’s examination room. “We’ve started Tom’s transfusion. Then we’ll take him to Medical Imaging where he’ll have a CT scan. After that, depending on the result shown on the CT scan, he’ll be moved to a regular hospital room.”

“Do you know the room number?” Tanner asked.

“No. You’ll have to check with the front desk.”

“Okay, thank you. Do you know how long that will take… I mean before he’s in a room?” Tanner asked.

“It depends on how busy Medical Imaging is.”

Tanner decided he could find out after Tom’s scan was finished. In the meantime, he decided to update Tom about what happened in the hall. He entered examination room fourteen and saw an I-V line connecting a bag to Tom’s arm.

“How are you feeling? About the same, I assume.”

“Yeah. I’m going to get a CT scan. Whatever that is. What was all that yelling and talking out there?”

“Let me tell you what happened,” Tanner said.

That took just a few minutes. Tom had heard the yelling by Mable Wilcox and Donna Strallen and a lot of their very loud conversations out in the hall, but he couldn’t understand much of what had been said.

After Tanner explained what was happening to Mable and George Wilcox and Donna Strallen, Tom smiled. “Got you, you fucking assholes!” he mumbled loud enough for Tanner to hear but no one else. That made them both laugh.

Tanner took out his cellphone and called his mom. She was available to talk, so he told her a summary of what had happened. He also asked her if she knew what hospital room Tanner would be assigned. She said it wouldn’t be assigned until the reading of his CT scan was completed.

After about twenty minutes two orderlies arrived with a gurney. “Please return to the reception area,” one of them told Tanner.

Tanner stood across the hall from the examination room to watch what they were doing with Tom. He was moved from the examination table to the gurney. Then they rolled the gurney with Tom down the hall in the other direction and disappeared around the corner.

Tanner walked back to the reception area and the admissions desk. The same woman was at the desk, and she smiled when she saw him.

“Tom Harris is being taken to Medical Imaging for a CT scan,” Tanner told her. “I was told he might have to wait a long time depending on how busy they are. If I went to Medical Imaging could I wait with him?”

“Yes. You can’t be with him in the room where they do the scan, but you can be in the waiting room. That’s where he’ll be taken to wait for his scam.” She handed him a sheet of paper that had a layout of the hospital. “You’re here. Take the door at your left and follow the hall to the atrium then turn right. Walk past the rotunda and you’ll see the sign for Medical Imaging. That’s where the waiting room is located.”

“Thank you.”

Tanner followed her instructions and arrived at Medical Imaging. He walked into the waiting room and saw Tom on the gurney.

“Hey, that was fast. How was your trip? Did they offer you any snacks?” he asked Tom, then he grinned.

“It was easy, but no snacks. Do you know that to open the doors they just push the gurney right up to them? Then they open automatically. It’s kind of cool.”

“That sounds convenient. Did they say how long you’d have to wait?”

“About fifteen minutes. Someone’s having a CT scan now. As soon as that’s finished, I’m next.”

“Did you ask how long the CT scan would take?”

“About a half hour to forty-five minutes. Can you wait with me?”

“Sure. No problema.”

“I wonder where they’ll take me after my CT scan is finished.”

“Maybe to a regular hospital room?” Tanner didn’t want to remind Tom about the alternative, an operating room to have surgery.

But it turned out that Tom already was aware of that option, and he told Tanner, “Doctor Hamilton said if I needed an operation they’d do it right away. If that’s the case, he said he’d see me in pre-op. I guess that’s where I’d wait until they’re ready to operate on me.”

“Or maybe your scan will show that they won’t have to do any surgery.”

“That sure would be best.”

“Well, I’ll stay with you until they shag my ass out of here,” Tanner said, and he grinned.

“Say, what time is it?” Tom asked.

Tanner looked at his phone. “It’s almost ten o’clock. We’ve been at the hospital over two hours.”

“They took my clothes and my wallet and cellphone and put them in two yellow plastic bags. Would you look under the gurney and let me know if you see them? And my backpack, too?”

Tanner looked under the gurney. “There are two yellow bags with stickers that have your name and a number. The tops of the bags have a tie so whatever’s in them can’t fall out. A backpack is there, too. I assume it’s your backpack; It’s our school colors, black and white with orange stripes.”

“Yeah, that’s mine. There’s a hanging tag on it with my name and address.”

“Yup, it’s yours.

“I’ll ask the person at the registration desk over there if she knows where they’ll take you from here.”

“Okay, that’s a good idea. Thanks, Tanner.”

He walked up to where a rather young-looking girl was sitting behind a counter.

“Excuse me, I’m with Tom Harris. He’s going in for a CT scan. Do you know where he’ll be taken after his scan is finished?”

“Let me look at the room schedule.” She entered information into her computer terminal then looked up at Tanner. “He’ll be returned here, to the waiting room. Doctor Hamilton will review the results of the scan and decide where to send him. That will probably take a half hour to forty-five minutes once they complete the scan.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Tanner returned and asked Tom, “Did you hear what she said?”

“Yeah, most of it. How long did she say it would take be after the scan?”

“A half hour to forty-five minutes.”

Tom shrugged. “I guess this isn’t the worst place to wait.”

“Will you need to need to take a leak before they take you in for your scan? That’s only fifteen minutes from now.”

“I don’t know. Sometimes the feeling that I have to pee comes on suddenly.”

“It’ll be at least two-and-a-half hours since you last peed till you’ll get the chance again. Let me ask her what we should do.”

Tanner returned to the registration desk.

“Tom Harris has been peeing blood. It’s been over an hour and a half since the last time he peed. If he needs to go, what should I do? I’m going to be staying with him.”

“Just let me know, and I’ll call a nurse who will take him to the restroom. Have they been collecting his urine?”


“Okay, I’ll make a note about that on his record.”

“Thank you.”

Tanner returned to Tom who’d heard what she said.

“I wonder if you can sit in a chair instead of having to lie on the gurney.”

“When they wheeled me in, I asked that, and they said the doctor wants me recumbent.” Tom grinned. “That means lying down, not sitting up. They raised the part under my head a little and gave me a pillow. That makes it a lot more comfortable.”

“That’s good.”

“What classes are you taking this semester, Tanner?”

“Spanish 3, Digital Arts, and PE with you, plus Chemistry, English 3, Pre-Calc, and AP U.S. History.”

“Sounds like a heavy schedule.”

“It’s not bad.”

Then they talked about which classes and which teachers they liked and didn’t like. They talked about what books they were reading for fun. Tanner talked about how he wanted to learn a lot more about computers. Tom talked about how he was bummed that he wouldn’t be able to play football the rest of this year.


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