The Little Runaway
Edited by Rock
Edited by Rock
It would seem that David would need, if nothing else, to get used to surprises. Walking inside from the patio, he saw a rotund man standing inside the entrance hall. Admittedly, his build was more of his grandfather's build, but probably a little shorter.
Sam smiled as he saw David hobble over to where they stood. "Well hello, young man, you must be David."
David smiled warmly in return. "Good morning, Sir."
"I have heard so much about you … it feels like I already know you." A slight reddening of his face had David look to his Nan.
"Don't be embarrassed, its complements that make us feel good about ourselves."
Standing closer to his father was a lady dressed in cream coloured slacks and top that would be more suitable for warmer weather, that in turn sending a shiver that started from his toes, seemingly giving a shock as it attacked his back teeth. She was, he thought, someone his father worked with. He shuddered to think that it might be a judge; he had seen his fair share of them with no concern for his 'type'. She had an air about her that gave the impression that she took no nonsense… and judging that from someone by just saying hello was not a fait assumption. David inwardly smiled at his thoughts on his wording.
"David, this is Judge Peterson." David shuddered, this time for real.
"I won't bite, I promise. I like my men with meat on them, so I can have a real feast."
Lady that statement went out with the dinosaurs, his thought wasn't exactly nice, but she never heard it.
"Good morning, Miss."
"David, you don't need to act so formal, just act as you would if I wasn't here."
"Excuse me, Miss, if politeness is what offends you, then I am sorry, but I will not offer apologies for the way I act, as it is normal for me to act this way, whether I am alone or in company."
"David!" A shocked rebuke came from both Edward and Elizabeth. Edward gave Sam a stone look at the smile he gave.
The reply was not expected, but she knew it was justified.
"Don't chastise him … my wording was callous to say the least. Do you forgive me, David?" His indifferent gaze gave Judge Peterson a lot to think about.
"My apologies, Julia, he is normally quiet and respectful," as David received a not to happy glare from Edward.
"Edward, I have children in my courtroom every day, some are indifferent, some uncomfortable, some even scared. I have had young teenage delinquents who shout and scream, sometimes with the use of obscenities. Edward, I have seen behaviour in different forms, good and bad. David was being respectful and polite. My apologies for being insensitive, and as you rightly considered … I was baiting you."
Edward eyed Sam with some distrust. "Don't look at me, I knew nothing of this." Sam looked at David … in hopes that he was accepting his explanation.
Edward was not best pleased, and Julia could see it.
"I said 'considered I was baiting him', that does not mean I was. Edward, I asked you to be straight with me, and you were; the rebuke you gave David was proof of that, even if the rebuke should never have been given. But that said, I would never embarrass myself using such underhanded tactics."
Elizabeth came to the rescue again with her cure all, "Would anyone like a cup of tea?" The silence was broken with, "Yes, that would be nice."
"Miss, it seemed you came here with your mind already made up," his expression one of upset and anger. Turning slowly, he looked at everyone in the room individually, then before he made his way outside.
"Please take me back to the orphanage," all eyes were now focused solely on David.
The quiet was deafening until Sam broke the silence. "Let me go and talk to him."
David was seated on a wrought iron bench, halfway way between the front entrance and the corner where the garage was situated. "You were a bit hard on them in there, don't you think?"
"Sam … okay. I'm not saying Judge Peterson was right or wrong, but her concern was with Edward."
"That's right; the orphan boy has to be pulling a fast one."
"You may be right, but David, have you ever said or done something that you later regretted? David from what I can see, you are home."
"I'm only here till someone else finds a reason I shouldn't be. Uncle Sam, this isn't my home because I wouldn't have a mother. I don't need to hear it from Edward or my Nan … I already know what the answer would be."
Sam smiled at the reference to uncle. "David, people make mistakes, but how can they put them right if nobody is willing to let them. This may sound harsh, but David, you have nothing in your past that you can look back on and smile about with fondness. But just as someone who changes his name starts again, so can you. David, you have a chance where your past can be a beginning … with a new future to look forward to. A mistake has been made; if you follow through, you will be 'cutting off your nose to spite your face'?" Revenge wasn't something he saw in David. Discussions with Edward had told him of a boy who was content with simple pleasures. Monies he had saved before running away still untouched. Reluctance to accept items, even simple things such as clothes, one would think was a way of not giving the chance of being sent away; and the case was nothing more, as far as he was concerned … he didn't need them. So why from an accusing sentence would he give up something every child has or wants, unless he was resigned to the fact that there will always be someone or something that will take away his dream. If that is the case, then the only answer would be - he has given up.
Sam went inside, leaving David time to think on his own.
"David is as genuine a boy as I've ever seen, but he's hurting. Julia, I don't think what you said was the problem - but it could be the decider. Your assumption brought the problem to the surface. If you ever doubted his intentions, then his honesty should have cleared it for you on both occasions. Edward, Elizabeth, he will leave - I promise you. He has been rejected all his life; and now, well I can't say with complete certainty, but that's what he feels now."
"He doesn't have a home. He lives in a house, but with just fewer people in it. That is the why." He looked accusingly at Julia. "How you handled things today put a marker on what he already knew, no matter how good you are, in this case David, you are always going to be treated as if you are nothing. The people who are supposed to protect him have, and are again letting him down. He is a minority."
Before Sam was anywhere near finished, David came hobbling back in.
"Thank you, Uncle Sam. I love my Nan and I know she loves me; and I know she will still love me even if I'm not here. I'm sorry Nan, but I have to go back to the orphanage."
"Judge Peterson, kids like us are disposable, but I was given a chance that not many get. I was sent to a good school - that might be trivial to you, but to me it was a way I could make something of myself … and I will. Maybe not here … but I will. I have lived on my own for as long as I can remember … but I didn't waste it; I learned by reading. I didn't do it all by myself, the teachers helped. Coming to this house was the best thing I have ever done. I met the nicest person in the world. She's not a woman - she's a lady. I met Uncle James, he is the greatest person in the world. Why, because he treated me like family, not a stray, or a kid that wanted a home. I met Jeremy, his son, and Samantha, his little baby girl. I met Louise, his wife, who let a perfect stranger hold her daughter, because she knew I wouldn't hurt her. I now have an uncle and two cousins. I met Edward, who tries to be a father as much as I try to be a son … we were both trying really hard, but it's not easy when you're not used to it. When I'm old enough, I am coming back here to live with my Nan, if she'll let me. And I'll be the son and grandson they treat me like. Just because you lose a battle, doesn't mean you've lost the war" David hobbled in the direction of the stairs leaving everyone in shock.
Elizabeth was in tears… Edward couldn't move.
"David! I know you are hurting, but …"
"I'm not hurting, Uncle Sam, I'm happy. You said that my past would be a beginning from where my future would start, you were right. My past started my future when I came here, I now have a future I can look forward to, I started my future when I said I would come back here and live with my Nan, don't you see?"
"David, people that work within the law can never know a wrong or right answer, they have to keep an open mind, then they carefully surmise until they get to know what and who they are working with. If mistakes are made - the consequences are real lives. You are a child, David, and a mistake could ruin your whole life. I came today and I judged - that was wrong. If I said to you that you could live here that would also be wrong. You taught an old fool a lesson; you are wiser than your years, young man."
He didn't know why, but he thought of the boy from Briarcroft … Brian. How he ended up in care because of his dad; who had beaten him so bad he had to spend time in the hospital.
"David, I know you don't want to listen to me, but I'm going to finish what I started to say earlier, then silence to hear any objections."
"Mistakes can be made, even when it seems otherwise. Truth and lies are not an exact science. They weren't as dramatic in this case, but you stated I had already made my mind up before I came here - you may be right - but you need to understand that at times, there's difficulty separating truths from untruths."
"Stop this, Julia." Her gaze shifted to Edward.
"So you were giving me a reason to prove you right?"
"In a way, yes I was. Children can pull the wool over people's eyes when the mood takes them. That means to say they are not being genuine."
"How can you automatically know if someone is genuine? Am I not being respectful right now, but am I genuine?" David stated, as much as asked.
"I can only answer that with reversing the attitude. Putting on a show can sometimes be difficult, reverting back to a type is a lot easier. You see, David, though you got upset, your attitude never deviated, you were still polite and respectful.
"David, I was invited here today to see a boy who needed a home, I didn't know you, I'd never met you. I handled things badly; and yes, I should have had an open mind.
"But David, you are letting your emotions rule you, not something I wouldn't do myself, but… simply not the way I would do it. But personally, if you stay the way you are, it would ruin a good boy. Right now we have an issue - you. You can let your head tell you what to do, or your emotions. If you listen to your heart, you'll be happy - for how long, that you'll never know if you walk away. Edward, or if you wish, your father and I have only been acquainted in court in our opposite roles, but Sam thinks very highly of him, so any friend of Sam's is also a friend of mine. Sam is a very good man, and I trust his judgement. I have to say I was shocked by your decision to leave, I was dubious of your reasons, but Sam spoke about how he thought you were feeling before you came in. Now, either you were the best actor this side of the Atlantic or you were giving a true reflection on how you were feeling. What I saw … what I know is I saw you prepared to give up what has to have been your dream to eventually have a future. As for what you may think of me? It may not make you feel any better, but it has taught me a lesson. As the old saying goes, 'don't judge a book by its cover'."
With that said, she turned and asked Sam to drive her home. Sam was somewhat reluctant, but saw he had no other option.
"I am going now, because I don't think having lunch is a good idea."
"Timothy David Ward!"
"Don't you ever again think of walking out on your family," after the short distance it took to look him in the eye and holding him in a deathlike hug to reinforce the point. "And I will certainly not be the lady you may think I am after I tan your backside young man!"
He knew he'd been scolded, but he didn't drop his head.
The silence in the car was broken as the traffic light halted their journey. "I have known you since university - or at least I thought I did; so tell me, what was in your head when you decided to belittle that child."
"The light's green."
"Trying to find out if the boy was what he seemed to be is fine, but you certainly didn't need to continue the assault … I can't see any other description to use. You were forewarned the child was timid, had little or no confidence, so tell me why?"
"I still thought that at some point, I could get him to drop the act."
"Even after I told you my feelings; which begs another question … how you value my judgement - if at all"
"I do value your judgement, and yes I was baiting him."
"This is the family man speaking, not a colleague. David has a disability - and don't you say anything - that in itself puts doubt of ever getting a family, that in itself would have affected him as a baby … not to mention going to school? Therein lies the main problem - self-confidence. So now we have a scared and lonely child. I don't know very much of what happened before Briarcroft, but I intend to find out."
He looked at Julia, unsure if she was even listening, but saw no reaction.
"What he lacked in mixing with his peers, he certainly made up for in determination. If what Edward says is right; and I see no reason to doubt it. If not in his room, he was at the library; if not working his way through every book on the shelves, he was in class still filling his head with knowledge. Did you know his peers had him do their assigned chores as well as his own, and he still found time to learn? The housemaster, I forget his name, knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. From what was originally reported, he was also abusive, striking students."
Still Julia sat in silence.
"By more luck than good judgement, David got a family; he actually got a family. But again, some self-righteous adult came along."
Again Julia remained silent.
"If you get on the wrong side of her, that's bad. But if you get on the good side of her, you'll have a friend for life; that's exactly what I told two of my closest friends, but what you did was put yourself on the wrong side of two very influential people. But not knowing any better I doubt that would even affect you, you are the one who does everything right … never wrong. As you know, Edward is no pussycat. And as for Elizabeth … well, describing her connections would be 'who does what in the government'. David, on the other hand, is the scared little boy that was so timid he would walk away rather than respond; I know I under estimated him, but after today, I have no doubt that bullies like you will be put in their place without thought of consequences."
For the first time, Julia gave a reaction.
"Are you are still thinking about what happened earlier? Well, I see we are going to have to do something about that," laying his hands on David's shoulders, "I want you to think about something else, okay? If you want to go back to the orphanage, I'll take you back first thing in the morning."
Although he didn't like ignoring his mother, David had to make an informed choice. "David, you turned a corner today, you are still a little boy, and always will be as far as this household is concerned. But you took on a judge … a judge of all people. A judge that has put older than you in their place, and you didn't buckle. The little boy didn't cringe, he held his corner, and although you going back to the orphanage would be the hardest thing for you to do, you stood up like a man by caring; and I'll bet your Nan loves you more than ever right now … if that's even possible, mind you. Then there's me? Me trying to be a father, but if you leave, who's going to teach me?" David cried as he crawled into the lap of the man that he knew would always be his father, no matter where life took him.
Elizabeth smiled, herself crying with happiness.
What was now a regular excursion for David, he made his way to the study, trying hard to keep his noise to a minimum? Thankful that the embers of the fire still glowed, emitting some heat into the room. As he without thought sat in his usual chair, remembering he had sat in his Grandfathers armchair on more than one occasion, which would have squashed the old man. Knowing that his Grandfather was determined for him, and only him, to adorn what was rightfully his own added a smile to his face on the accomplishment.
"Good morning, young man, what doth thou require of my presence?"
"One doth only require one's solitude, but thou art in attendance, so thine company would be acceptable," a mile wide smile told he was enjoying the duel.
"Thou art getting cocky in ones old age, but whilst give your conversation to forsake thine thoughts. Now enough of you showing my age, you little scamp, what's troubling you, little one?"
"It's nice sitting in here, especially when everyone has gone to bed … it's peaceful … and as a final word, the company isn't too bad," as he flashed a toothy grin.
"Liking his grandfathers company? You must be bored. You still like your own company at times, the solitude, but I'm - what's the word they use - chuffed at the thought that my presence doesn't distract you."
"I love you grandfather."
Elizabeth quietly opened the door to the study; David, as was often the case, had fallen asleep curled tightly into a ball as if hugging the armchair. Elizabeth brushed his hair back gently, smiling as she subconsciously thought of George, and looked, maybe expectantly, across the fireside table to the other armchair. Her thoughts of the day brought her back down to earth as she quietly closed the door. Breakfast was the first order of the day, which at times was more of a snack as they tried to get David to eat that little bit extra.
To Be Continued…