The sun slanting across his face caused Jamie to slowly wake up. As his eyes focused he was puzzled at first because he didn't recognize where he was for a moment until he remembered what had happened. There was a sound at the door and he turned over onto his back. It was a nurse who had entered the door. She gave him a sympathetic smile as she came into the room. She was carrying a food tray and set it down on a table near the bed.
"Good morning, I'm Nancy, your nurse this morning. I have your breakfast here. Let me get you sitting up first."
She went to the side of the bed and pushed a button, which made the head of the bed rise until he was in a comfortable sitting position. Jamie interrupted her.
"Uh, I need to use the bathroom first."
"Okay. Let's see if you can get up, otherwise you'll have to use this."
She held up a urinal that was hanging on the side of the bed. He turned red and shook his head.
"I think I'd like to try to use the bathroom."
"Okay, let me help you first. I want to make sure you can stand and walk without any problems, otherwise you will have no choice but to use this."
Jamie nodded and she reached down and lowered the side rail. He pulled the covers to the side and swung his legs over until they were hanging off the bed. She got a strong grip and helped him scoot forward until his feet touched the floor.
"Oooh, that's cold."
"Oh, sorry about that; I can get you some socks if you want."
"No, it's okay. I was just surprised for a moment.'
He stood up and she grabbed the back of his gown to keep it closed to preserve his modesty. She stayed next to him, one hand on his arm, the other on the back of the gown. He seemed to be steady, but she kept a grip on him as she helped him to the bathroom. She made sure he was steady on his feet before letting go. He thanked her and closed the door realizing that his butt was hanging out a little because of the open back of the gown. When he finished, he looked at himself in the mirror. His hair looked kind of dirty and he had some scratches and scrapes on his head and neck and he grimaced at the boy looking back at him. When he was ready to go back into the room, he made sure that his gown was tied in back this time. When he opened the door, he saw that Nancy had placed a blanket on a chair and had the breakfast on the tray next to it. She looked at him and smiled.
"I thought you might prefer to sit in a chair to eat breakfast. Besides I need to put some fresh sheets on the bed."
Jamie nodded and sat down in the chair. She handed him some blue patient socks.
"Here you can put these on to keep your feet warm."
He pulled his foot up to put the socks on his feet.
She moved the tray over in front of him and he started eating.
"I'll be back to pick the tray up a little later."
"Um, do you know anything about my mom? They said she was taken to Riverside Hospital, I think it was."
"No, but I'll try to find something out for you."
A short time later the doctor came in just as he was finishing up. Jamie had the TV control and had turned it on to give him something to do while he sat there waiting for what was happening next.
"Good Morning young man, how are you feeling this morning?"
"I feel okay, a little stiff and sore, but okay I guess."
He nodded absently as if he expected that answer. He then got a sort of nervous look on his face and that caused Jamie some concern.
"That's good. It's about what I expected. There is another thing. There is a police officer here to ask you some questions about the accident if you feel up to it."
The doctor nodded and patted his shoulder before leaving the room. A moment later he returned with the officer. The officer walked over to Jamie with his hand out. After they shook hands, he sat in a nearby chair that he pulled over.
"Hello James, I'm Sam Jenkins. I need to ask you a couple of questions about the accident."
"What do you remember about the accident?"
"My mom and I were coming up to a light and we saw that it had turned green as we got nearer to it, so we kept going straight through. I turned to say something to my mom and I saw headlights coming straight at us and then everything was all jumbled up. After that I don't remember too much until I woke up in the ambulance."
The officer finished making some notations in his notebook and closed it.
"Sir, do you know anything about my mom?"
The officer looked over at the doctor and nodded slightly before turning to look at Jamie. The look on his face, started to cause Jamie a lot of concern and he found that his throat started to close up a little as his breathing quickened. The door opened and the doctor came back in the room followed by a middle aged man dressed in a black shirt and pants, around his neck on a chain was a silver cross, behind him was a younger lady. When he saw the man with the cross, he looked at the police officer with fear and started to shake his head slightly.
"I'm sorry to tell you this son, but you're mother was too badly injured. The doctors did everything that they could, but there were too many injuries for them to fix. They said that even if they had gotten to her immediately, her injuries were too extensive for her to survive."
Tears started falling down his cheeks and he kept shaking his head as the news hit him.
"No, no, it can't be. You gotta be wrong. She can't be…she just can't be."
"I'm sorry son, your mom died soon after getting to the hospital. I'm very sorry."
The man with the cross came over to his side and tried to comfort him. Jamie didn't know what to do. He was scared as he wondered what was going to happen to him now. The lady came up to him and knelt down next to him.
"J…Jamie. I prefer Jamie."
"Okay, Jamie then. I'm Meredith Lattimer with Child Services. I'm here to help you with everything and find a place for you to live. Do you have any family that we can call to take care of you?"
Jamie shook his head.
"No, she was all I had."
"What about your father?"
"My mom said he died when I was a baby."
"No grandparents, aunts, uncles?"
Jamie just shook his head.
"Well, we'll take care of things and make sure you're okay. Do you live here in town?"
"Yes, over near Rancho Viejo middle school. We just moved in a few days ago to our new house on Cornflower Drive."
"Do you know the number?"
"1134? I think that's it."
"Okay. We'll check that out. For now, we have to find a place for you to stay while we take care of everything. The doctor says that you're going to be okay, so I'm going to go make some arrangements for you so that you have a place to stay."
She patted him on the back as she got up. Jamie just sat there in shock. The others left and his nurse came back in the room to clear away the breakfast tray. When she left the room, he got into the bed and turned on his side and sobbed until he wore himself out and fell asleep.
A couple of hours later, Jamie was awakened by a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Jamie, wake up dear."
Jamie groaned a little and turned onto his back as he looked to see who had woke him up. Mrs. Lattimer was standing by the side of his bed. She had a bag in one hand. Once he was awake, she stepped back and put her purse and the bag down on the table by the chair.
"The doctor had said that you are well enough to be released and we have secured a place for you to stay. We were really lucky with them, because they just recently got approved as foster parents and since we hadn't placed anyone with them yet, they were more than happy to take you in."
She gestured to the bag.
"I've brought you some clothes to change into. Nothing special, but better than what you have on now. I'll leave you for a few minutes so that you can get dressed while I take care of the paperwork."
She left the room and Jamie got out of bed and went to the bathroom first to wash his face before going back in the room and getting dressed. He looked in the bag and found jeans, t-shirt, underwear, socks and tennis shoes. He untied and removed the hospital gown and tossed it on the bed. He stood there naked as he pulled the briefs out of the bag. He took a look down at his body, taking in all the scrapes and bruises. None of his injuries were too bad. Other than that he was your normal average thirteen year old boy. He finished dressing and sat down on the chair to put the shoes and socks on. Once he was ready, it was only a few minutes later that Mrs. Lattimer returned. Behind her were the doctor and a transport orderly with a wheelchair. The doctor came up to him.
"Well James, you're free to go. We need this bed for the sick patients. Good luck."
He held out his hand and Jamie shook it. The orderly brought the wheelchair over to him and patted the seat.
"Have a seat so we can get you out of here before they decide you need more tests."
Jamie sat down and they were soon headed out of the room, with Mrs. Lattimer leading the way. The orderly followed her out to the passenger pick up area. She had a Ford Taurus parked there and she opened the door before going around to the driver's side and getting in. The orderly stopped next to the passenger door and Jamie got up from the wheelchair and opened the door and sat down. She thanked the orderly and drove off. As she drove, she told Jamie out about the family that he would be living with.
"Margaret and Tom Wood are a nice couple, I think you'll like them. They have two boys, Shane, who is ten and Mark a seven year old. They agreed to be your foster parents."
"What about my things at my house?"
"Well, don't worry about that right now, we'll help you. Plus, we'll help with the funeral arrangements and everything so you don't have to."
They continued driving and Jamie noticed the homes in this area weren't the best in town, but they were okay.
"This is the best we could do on short notice. Mr. and Mrs. Wood are looking forward to meeting you and so are their sons, I think you'll find them to be very nice."
Jamie nodded absently. Soon they pulled up in front of a two story house and parked. The area they were in was a fairly solid middle class area. The house was an older house, but seemed to be well kept. It was painted a dark green with a steps leading up to a small porch. The roof over the porch was held up by two large block columns. There was a walk that led to the steps up to a porch. Mrs. Lattimer got out and waited for Jamie to join her.
"Well Jamie, let's go meet the Woods."
As they walked up to the steps the front door opened and Mr. and Mrs. Wood came out. Both of them were smiling at Jamie. Mrs. Lattimer motioned Jamie forward.
"Margaret, Tom, this is Jamie."
"Jamie, we're so very glad to have you live with us. I'm really sorry for what has happened and we'll try to help you in any way that we can."
She hugged him and then Mr. Wood came up and held out his hand and they shook hands.
"Welcome to our home Jamie. We are both glad to have you here."
They ushered Jamie into the house. The front door led into the living room. In the room sitting on a couch watching TV were two younger boys.
"Shane, Mark. Come and meet Jamie."
The boys stood up and walked over to him, both of them smiled at him.
"Hi. I'm Shane and this is Mark."
Jamie smiled at them.
"Hi. I'm Jamie."
"Boys, why don't you show Jamie his room while we talk to Mrs. Lattimer."
"Okay mom. C'mon Jamie."
From the living room Jamie saw stairs leading up to the second floor. There was a dining room just beyond the living room and he could see a doorway leading from there to the kitchen beyond that. The boys led him through a door on the right side of the living room near the stairs. Through the door he found himself in a hall going right and left. He saw one door at the end of the hall to his right, one door in front of him. To his left there were three more doors, one of which was at the end of the hall.
Shane acted as the tour guide, "My room is this one right here." He was pointing to the room right in front of them. "Mark's is the next one down the hall to the left. Across from him is the bathroom and the door down there at the end is the service porch. You're room is the one at that end." He was pointing to the right towards the door at the end of the hall, "It was the guest room, but I guess it's yours now."
Shane led Jamie into the room. The room was nice enough, kind of plain and probably about 12' by 12'. There was a twin bed, a dresser, and a desk and chair. There were also a couple of windows in the room. One of the windows looked toward the front of the house and the other to the side of the house. Jamie walked around the room checking things out. He pulled out the top drawer of the dresser and repeated that at the desk that looked out the front of the house. He opened the closet doors and looked inside. A few hangers were inside. He then sat down on the edge of the bed and folded his hands on his lap as he looked down at the floor.
He didn't say anything, just looked down. The two boys looked at him in confusion. Not knowing what to say to the silent, older boy. They sat down on either side of him. They took surreptitious glances at the cuts and bruises that they could see on his face, neck and arms. None of the boys said anything.
That is where Mrs. Lattimer found him, "Boys, can you give me a few minutes with Jamie?"
The boys nodded and left the room. She sat down next to him for a few moments before she said anything. "Jamie, you're caseworker will be by to take you to your home tomorrow and get you some of your stuff. Don't worry; we'll take care of everything concerning your mom. I'll let your foster parents know when the funeral is. Again we'll take care of all the arrangements. You won't have to worry about anything. Is there anything special you want from the house?"
"Okay. We'll see what we can do about that."
She patted his shoulder as she got up. "The Woods are good people, everything will work out."
After she left the room, he got up and closed the door before going back to the bed and lying face down, burying his face in the pillow. He began to cry as the events of the last couple of days crashed down on him. He was all alone, he had nobody now. Soon he fell asleep, exhausted by the crying.
On the other side of the door, the two younger boys could hear him. Their mother found them there. Mark turned to his mom, "Is Jamie sad?"
"Yes, dear, I'm afraid he is. Let's leave him alone for a little while."
She guided the boys away from the closed door.
A few hours later, Jamie felt something poking him on the shoulder. He groaned a little and moved away from what turned out to be a poking finger. "C'mon mom, don't poke me."
"Jamie? Wake up, my mom said to get you up for dinner."
Jamie finished rolling over and remembered where he was. He blinked a couple of times until he could focus on who was poking him. He finally saw that it was Shane standing next to the bed.
He rubbed his eyes a little and nodded, "Okay, thanks."
Shane left the room while Jamie scooted to the side and got up from the bed. He went down the hall to the bathroom. In the mirror he saw that his eyes were a bit red and he washed his face to try to hide the evidence of his crying. He dried off and made his way into the dining room. The Woods were just bringing the last dishes out of the kitchen and were placing them on the table.
Shane called to him and waved to the chair beside him, "Jamie, come sit by me."
Jamie gave Shane a wan smile before sitting down next to him. Margaret gave him an encouraging smile as she placed the garlic bread platter on the table. Dinner was spaghetti with garlic bread. The family talked while Jamie stayed mostly silent, just giving one word answers to most of their questions. After dinner, Shane talked him into watching some TV with them. Jamie stayed for an hour before telling the Woods that he was tired. Margaret nodded and gave him a sympathetic smile. He got up from the couch and headed silently off to his room. In his bedroom, he undressed down to his underwear and laid his clothes on top of the dresser. He pulled the covers back and got into bed. He rolled onto his side and winced a little as he was still a little sore in places. He had to squirm around a bit before he could find a comfortable position. Once he was settled, he looked out the window while tears leaked out of his eyes. He didn't cry, because he was mostly cried out, but the tears silently slid across his nose and down his cheeks, where they dripped onto his pillow.
Jamie woke the next morning. He was confused when he first opened his eyes, but soon enough he remembered and he groaned a little. He pushed the covers back and got up to head to the bathroom after pulling his pants on. After using the toilet he looked at himself in the mirror above the sink. His eyes were a little red, so he washed his face to remove any traces of his red eyes. He dried his face and headed back to his room. He got dressed in the only clothes that he had and left his room. He saw Shane coming out of his room.
Shane smiled and quickly headed to the bathroom. Jamie went through the door that led into the living room. He heard noise in the kitchen and turned that way. When he got there he saw that Margaret was getting bowls down from a cupboard.
She turned around and saw him. She walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "How are you feeling Jamie?"
"I'm okay Mrs. Wood."
"You can call me Margaret, Jamie, or Maggie if you like. Mrs. Wood seems so formal."
"Good. Anyway, the boys usually have cereal for breakfast. Would you like some?"
Jamie nodded. She patted him on the back before heading back into the kitchen. She came out with some bowls and a box of cereal. She motioned for Jamie to take a seat and placed a bowl in front of him. She returned with a jug of milk, which she set down in front of Jamie. He took the box and poured cereal into the bowl. Soon Shane and Mark joined him.
After breakfast the three boys sat and watched TV. Around noon there was a knock on the door. Mark jumped up and ran to the door. They could hear a woman at the door.
"Hello, is your mother here?"
"I need to talk to her?"
"Sure, I'll get her."
Mark turned around to get his mom and saw that she was just coming downstairs. She saw the woman at the door, so she headed over to the door. When she got there, she saw a middle aged woman standing there. She was dressed in a business suit and carried a soft briefcase in her hand.
"Hello, may I help you?"
"Mrs. Wood? I'm Ms. Alma Geddes. I'm James Carpenter's assigned case worker."
"Of course, come in Ms. Geddes."
Maggie opened the door and gestured for Alma to come in. She called for Jamie, "Jamie, your case worker is here."
Jamie stood up and walked over to her. "Uh…Hello. Um, where's Mrs. Lattimer?"
"Mrs. Lattimer handles the initial contact with the client, until a case worker is assigned. I have been assigned to your case James. Mrs. Lattimer told me that I needed to take you over to your house to get some things. I know where it is and we have your mother's keys to the house, so I've come to pick you up and take you over there."
Jamie had a slight look of shock on his face at the brusque tone in Ms. Geddes voice. She wasn't like Mrs. Lattimer who had been much friendlier.
"Come James, I have a very busy day, you are not my only case today young man, so let's get going and take care of this."
She held out her hand and he numbly moved closer. She placed her hand on his back and pushed him to the front door. She looked at Margaret, "We will be back as quick as we can. There are some papers that we need to go over and we will take care of them, when the boy and I return."
"Uh, yes, okay. See you in a little while Jamie."
He nodded and was pushed out the door by Ms. Geddes. She kept her hand on his back and kept up the pressure on his back to make him move a little faster. She opened the rear passenger door and gave him a little push. She walked around to the driver's side and got in while Jamie closed the door. Margaret, Shane and Mark had come out on the porch and watched them.
In the car Ms. Geddes looked over her shoulder, "Make sure that your seatbelt is on, James."
Jamie was already clicking the belt when she looked back. She gave him a quick nod and turned back around to start the car and drove off.
On the porch they watched them drive away. Mark looked at his mom with frown, "Mom, she's kind of mean?"
"She's just very busy Honey.
Her answer to Mark was the opposite of what she was thinking. She agreed that Ms. Alma Geddes was kind of mean. She ushered the boys back inside as the car drove off.
The ride took several minutes. During the drive, Ms. Geddes said nothing to Jamie at all. She didn't even listen to the radio, so it was a completely silent ride. The only sound was the outside road noise and the fan of the air conditioner. The temperature was almost one hundred degrees outside, pretty much a typical August day in Hemet. Jamie looked at the passing buildings. They soon pulled up in front of his house. Alma reached into her purse that was on the seat and pulled out a set of keys. Jamie gave a little gasp as he recognized his mom's keys.
Alma gave him a disapproving look before getting out of the car, "Come along James, we don't have all day."
She headed toward the house without waiting for him. He slowly got out of the car and walked up to the house. Once she had the door unlocked she stood there waiting for him. Jamie felt a little reluctant to enter, since he felt the absence of his mom as he walked up to the door. At the door, he hesitated slightly and Alma placed her hand on his back and pushed him inside, closing the door behind them. Jamie looked around and the place that he had thought would be his new home, felt so empty. It was just a house now. His eyes got moist, knowing that it was his mom that made it a home. He felt another slight push from Alma and he fought back the tears that threatened to fall, guessing that there would be no sympathy from Ms. Geddes.
"James, go and get what clothes you can in a couple of suitcases."
"Ms. Geddes, I like to be called Jamie."
She looked at him with disapproval for interrupting her. "I believe in calling a person by their proper name, James. Now go and get your stuff packed."
Jamie turned and headed upstairs to his room. When he got to it, he looked around the room for a moment before going into his closet and pulling out a couple of suitcases that were there and put them on his bed. He went to his dresser and started pulling some clothes and packing them into the suitcases. He also took some shirts and pants from the hangers and packed them as well.
The suitcases were pretty well packed when Alma showed up outside his door. "Ah, there you are. Do you have a suit?"
She nodded approvingly.
"Go on and get your suit and pack it carefully. You'll need that for the funeral."
Alma left as Jamie went back to the closet and took his gray suit from its hanger and carefully put it in one of the suitcases. The suitcases were nearly full. He looked around the room and saw the picture of him and his mom on his bedside table. He picked it up and touched her face. The tears came back and slid down his cheeks as his chin quivered. A couple of them dripped onto the picture. He quickly wiped his face as he heard Ms. Geddes moving around in his mother's room nearby. He put the picture into one of the suitcases and closed both of them. Then he grabbed his backpack, put a few personal items in it. He slipped it on and grabbed his laptop bag and put that over his neck and shoulder.
About that time, Ms. Geddes appeared in the doorway of his room, she had one of his mom's garment bags under her arm. She looked at him. She took in the backpack and laptop bag and he could see that she seemed about to say something, but she instead shook her head slightly.
"Come on James, we don't have all day."
She walked off and he could hear her walking down the stairs. He looked around the room at his other things, and wondered when he'd be able to get them. He heard the front door open. He sighed and picked up the suitcases to go downstairs. Once he was downstairs he saw Ms. Geddes reenter the house and pick up a plastic grocery bag that appeared to be full of papers.
She stood there looking at him impatiently, "Finally. Come on boy, let's go. I don't have all day."
Jamie didn't answer her and merely went outside to the car. The trunk was open and he put the suitcases and his backpack into the trunk, keeping the laptop case with him. He saw the garment bag already stored there. He looked up and watched as she locked the front door and walked over to the car.
"Close the trunk and get in so we can get going."
Jamie closed the trunk and got back in the car. She put the large plastic bag in the front seat, started the car and backed out of the driveway. Fifteen minutes later, she pulled up to a funeral home and got out.
"Wait here James, I'll be right back."
She went to the trunk and took the garment bag out. She carried it into the building, and returned a few minutes later. Without a word she started the car and drove away. She soon pulled up in front of his foster home. She opened the trunk and walked up to the house. Jamie got his stuff and followed her into the house.
Shane saw him coming and opened the door for him, "Hi Shane."
"Hi Jamie, can I help you?"
"Nah, I got it. Just hold the door for me."
Shane stepped out of the way as he held the screen door and Jamie headed to his room. He saw that Ms. Geddes was sitting with Margaret and she was pointing at the papers in front of them as she explained them. Once in his room, he put the suitcases and his backpack on the bed and his laptop case on the desk. Shane and Mark had followed him in.
"What's that Jamie?" Shane was pointing at the laptop case."
"Oh, that's my laptop."
"Cool, can I see it?"
He started to open the case, when he heard Margaret call for him. "Sorry, I have to see what your mom wants."
They followed him out of the room. Margaret and Ms. Geddes were standing in the living room. Ms. Geddes was tapping her toe impatiently.
"James, your mother's funeral will be in two days. Mrs. Wood said that she and her family will go with you. I am unable to go due to the large backlog of work I have. Well, I'll be in touch. Good day Mrs. Wood."
Ms. Geddes turned and headed towards the door. Margaret followed along behind her to see her out. They heard the car start up and Margaret came back in. She went over to Jamie and placed her hand gently on his shoulder. "Did you get everything you need?"
"Mostly, there are still some other things I want to get. When do you think I can get them?"
"I'll check with Ms. Geddes about that and let you know."
"You're welcome. Why don't you go ahead and unpack everything and put it away. I can make you a snack if you wish."
"No thanks. I'm not hungry."
"How about a soda?"
Jamie nodded, "Yeah, that would be good thanks."
She smiled and went to the kitchen. The boys pulled Jamie to his room. They helped him unpack his things. Margaret soon brought a glass of coke for each of the boys and put it on the desk. He took out his suit first and carefully smoothed it before hanging it up in the closet. The two boys had the other suitcase opened and were putting things away in the dresser.
"Is this your mom, Jamie?"
Jamie had just hung a couple of shirts in the closet. When he turned around at the question he saw Shane holding the picture of him and his mom. He nodded and gently took it from Shane and placed it on the bedside table.
Jamie nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He walked over to the closet and continued to hang his clothes up. With the two boys help he soon had the suitcases emptied and put away into the closet. They were clamoring for him to take out his laptop. Their antics made him smile for the first time in the last couple of days. He got the laptop out and turned it on. Soon they were taking turns playing an easy game on his computer.
After playing for a while, Shane left the room and returned a short time later, holding a baseball and a couple of gloves. "Jamie, will you play catch with me?"
Jamie turned around from the computer and smiled, "Sure."
"I'll go get my glove too." Mark ran out of the room, to get his glove, he followed them out to the large backyard. They arranged themselves in a triangle and started throwing the ball around. Margaret saw them from the kitchen window and smiled. A few minutes later Tom came home.
"Hi Honey. Where are the boys?"
"Out back playing catch."
Tom looked through the window and saw the boys. They seemed to be having a good time. Jamie had a little bit of smile on his face as he played with his foster brothers.
"Could you tell them that dinner is almost ready, they need to wash up."
Tom nodded and went through the service porch to the backyard. "Hey guys."
"C'mon in boys and wash up, dinner's almost ready."
The three boys walked by Tom. He placed his arm on Jamie's shoulders.
"How are you doing Jamie?"
"Okay, I guess."
"If you need to talk I'm here, don't forget that."
Jamie nodded and headed to the bathroom to clean up for dinner. After dinner, he and the boys played a board game for a little while, and then watched TV. Soon it was bedtime for the two younger boys and Jamie decided to go to his room as well. He played a game for a little while. He tired of that and lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. He thought about Ms. Geddes and he hoped he wouldn't have to deal with her too much. He didn't like her at all and she didn't seem to care whether he did or not. After a little while he got up to undress and got back in bed. He soon fell asleep.