"I would like to make an appointment to see Doctor Wiseman."
"May I ask who is calling?"
"Edward Whitmore, I spoke to the doctor over the Christmas period. It would be advantageous if an appointment was a home visit? David, the child we discussed, is my foster child; and being uncomfortable around strangers would only add to his low self-confidence. I believe he would be more relaxed, if he was around people he knew."
"He does, as more of a courtesy make home consultations; however, he prefers his consulting room."
"Okay, thank you for your time."
"Mister Whitmore, would you like for me to make an appointment?"
"No. My concern is more for David than a doctor, who believes that seeing a patient, let alone a child, would be a courtesy - either at his discretion or on a whim. Thank you for your time, goodbye." Edward was more than a little annoyed as he walked into the kitchen for what would be a late breakfast.
"Good morning, did you make an appointment?"
"Morning, Mother, no it seems that our good Doctor Wiseman believes home visits are more of a courtesy than a priority. But not to worry, we'll find someone who believes his patient is more important than how far he has to drive from his office."
"Have you any idea where our little speed racer is? Don't bother - I'll bet he's in the study ... right?"
After checking the study, "Mother, it seems that our little speed racer has disappeared."
"He must have slipped by me and gone to his room, ask if he wants a drink of milk."
Knocking on David's door and getting no reply, he went in to check to see if David had fallen asleep. "Have you been up to some mischief?"
"No? Well, it's strange, you being up here instead of your second home. I mean, well the study will feel empty, won't it?"
"I told Nan what happened in town while we were coming home."
"Did she talk it through with you?"
"Nan said you weren't angry, you were just concerned that ... well, that not getting in with the crowd was a good thing. But I had to remember that people would get upset if I refused for them to do it ... you know to buy me something. Nan thinks you were hard on me." A triumphant grin plastered the whole of his face.
"She does, does she? David, look at me, I know it may seem that way; but David, I don't want you to settle in your own skin - I want you to settle for more. I am hoping you will try and get over this being bought things, because I know you will feel a hundred times better. Christmas, Jeremy's present, I don't need to know what that gift meant to Jeremy, but what did it feel like to you?"
"It wasn't the gift ... it was nice. You know, when you sometimes get light headed? That's how my chest felt right here. Jeremy is younger than me, but he knew what things I'd like. I only bought Jeremy a card with five pounds in it, but it could have been a new bike ... he didn't care."
"Yes, and believe me, it wouldn't have made any difference. David, I know I keep going over what we have talked about, but do you remember when I said it's not the gift - it's because somebody thought he was good enough to receive one. Some people will say not to buy them anything; that's just being courteous. When they say that, it's usually because they know you will have to spend enough money on family and close friends. But David, for friends like that, you wouldn't mind spending money on them - just like Jeremy. There are others who say the same thing, but they are the ones who hope you will remember them and buy them something. This is just something you will know when you start buying gifts. Giving someone a gift can be anything. Some you have to buy; others, well somebody who is frail, you could cut their grass, or go to the shops for them."
"You mean like you give me?"
"I don't give you anything, - you give me."
"Well okay, but I don't need you to get me anything; because whatever you buy, I would still get the better deal. I get you... and you are priceless. Come here."
He bounced over to the side of the bed into the arms of his now father.
"David, I don't want you to ever change. Well, maybe one or two things," as he tickled his ribs to a falsetto of giggles?
"Thanks for what? You're not going all - what's the word - weird on me?"
"No. Just thanks for being you... and my father."
Nothing more was said, or needed to be.
"Now tell me, are you going to be as understanding regarding that?"
"You mean my stump? I'm still not sure; it's not like changing the style of your hair in the barber's."
"I won't argue that point; because in some ways, you're right this is not about doing something for style, or on a whim. This is about giving someone more freedom, more confidence, less inhibitions about being different. But what I will say is if this is about cost, it shouldn't be. It should be about you feeling comfortable within yourself; and yes, I know you are. But I've also seen when you are around strangers and kids your own age, how you roll yourself into a ball and hide - not outside, but inside."
"I know, but if I can't use it, the money does matter."
"Listen to me. You will get one specially fitted. A bit like made to order. All measurements of your good leg and your stump are taken, even allowing for growth. They will take a lot of measurements. Inside, outside leg, feet, even to the point of shoe size, again allowing for growth. It's not like it used to be, you go to a hospital where they measure your height, weight, and leg size. Then they take you into another room - and wow, where did that come from? We'll leave it for now, but just remember what I said."
"What happens when I outgrow it?"
"Then we buy another one; and as a bonus, you get to make someone else happy in the same way." He smiled at the face that looked back at him with amusement.
"David, all around the world, even in Britain, there are children like you, who have lost limbs - be it war, born without, even diseases - that wouldn't be able to afford them. But believe me, they wouldn't think twice, if they had the choice. Now, can you imagine how you would feel, seeing someone around your age jumping about, laughing and giggling, even if it was only with one leg? That would be like getting two of you - irreplaceable. David, look at me, you make this decision for you; and remember, whatever I do for you is like you - irreplaceable. I do not do it out of pity; if I did what I do for you in pity, what would you do?"
"I wouldn't stay here."
"Pity can be as bad as not having what you need in the first place; that's why whatever you do or say needs to be a genuine sentiment, do you understand?"
"Yes, I do. And thank you again," returning the hug. I got told by someone that they didn't know 'how' or 'why' I came here ... that would be something I would have to work out for myself. Yesterday, I found out the how, and now I know the why. Thank you so much for what you have done for me, even for what you haven't done yet."
"What! Pardon! Tomorrow I have a case. I'll be gone until the judge adjourns; so take care of your Nan for me. I may be home later than usual, as I have to go and see your Uncle James. I'll phone him from the courts; if he's on a break, I'll leave a message, and hope that he phones me back; if he does, I'll be home at the usual time."
"I'm not taking you on; I will, I promise."
"It's getting hard to get the staff these days, but I should think you'll be able to cover."
"I will, I promise. Eh! That's not fair."
"My, aren't you slow today. What you say, we find out what's for lunch? Come on, hop on."
"You know, I really do love you and my Nan?"
"I know, now ride em, cowboy!"
"I'm glad you returned my call. I thought you said that Wiseman is supposed to be the best? Well, he doesn't make courtesy calls? I'm not getting at you, but try and find another prosthetist, one that doesn't think he's doing the whole world a favour if he steps outside his consulting room.
"Yes you are. But I'll do what I can. Doctors that occasionally come here, say he's the best at what he does, and you said the best."
"Thanks, James. How is everyone? You know, we are going to have to make a day soon, maybe give David a surprise and take the trip to yours. You know, and I'll say it... for one who wasn't ever getting married, and definitely no kids. Well, I now have at least one kid, and I have to say that it is the best thing I've ever done. I'm not sure I'd have been the same with a rowdy kid; but with David; well, it's like ...I don't know, I can't describe it."
"I have to admit you can pick-em. I know - you hear me - I know you've got the best of the bunch, and I genuinely mean that. Jeremy took to him instantly. Samantha? Well, I think the first time we saw David holding her doesn't need a comment. Louise absolutely adores him. This previous weekend, she threatened to bring David here, or send Jeremy to live with you two. It was incredible the change in him for the next few days. Oh, I forgot, he said he'd live with you if David stayed."
"If nothing comes up in the next couple of days; hey, it's better on a weekend. So how about next weekend? I mean, if you can drive from Oxford to here, I'm sure I can do the same."
"Great, I'll tell Louise. I'm not sure what the meals will be for Saturday, but Sunday - you will be staying the weekend, won't you - at least Saturday night? Anyway, Lamb as usual Sunday, I can guarantee it."
"Tell David I'll be home about the same time. THEY DID WHAT?! MY GOD, THIS IS GETTING IMPOSSIBLE."
Henry walked up to the half-opened door, "Edward! In God's name, what is wrong with you? The whole building can hear you."
"I'm sorry, Henry. I've just been told that I've had my fostering license suspended, don't ask me why, because I don't know. God! David! He's going to be terrified."
"Do you need any help?"
"To be honest, I don't know. I don't even know why they would take David in the first place. Henry, will you try and find out what is going on with Social Services. You know, for the first time in my life I feel numb."
"Don't go home - I'll find out what's going on - hang in there."
"Thanks, Henry. Mother, I know it's a strange request, but will you get a taxi to the courts. Don't ring James --- no point in us all worrying. I don't know, at least not yet I don't - but I will, mark my words. Hang on, Mother."
"Apparently, they got a call from a Doctor Wiseman. Who in God's name is he?" Henry asked.
"Calm down, Henry, one of us being in trouble is enough. He's a prosthetist. I had spoken to him before Christmas about a prosthesis for David. He's trying to get back at me - I'll kill him. Will you ask Edna if she can ... no, will you get this in her court? I mean yesterday, Henry!"
"My, you QCs ask for miracles."
"If they try to abolish QCs, then we might as well try and get away with it now while we've got the chance. Forgive me, Henry, I didn't mean that."
"Not to worry. I'll be right back."
"Sorry, Mother. You hang-up, and I'll book the taxi from here. Don't complain, but don't forget to lock up and put the alarm on. Yes, I know Mother."
"What did she say, Henry?"
"She can't demand, I mean other than you and the judges, but it sounded like an order to me."
"You know, I going to be a judge where you can really kick someone hard."
"If you mean that, I will see whose leaving or retiring; and see if I can get you moved up."
"I did ... and thank you, it's always been a dream of mine. I'd better go, talk to you shortly."
"Edna, thanks for seeing me. I have a problem that's been started no doubt by a secretary I refused to make an appointment with; after quote 'he only makes courtesy visits. I'd asked if he would come to my home to see David. David? Well, I am - or should I say... was his foster parent. I would ask you to read the transcripts as to how David ended up with me, but that is another story. Basically, they have suspended my foster license. From what I can determine, the good Doctor Wiseman has rung to say that I'd made an appointment to see him which, according to Social Services, is against the rules, even if I pay for any treatment."
"So, you are telling me that from an appointment you didn't make, they have taken your licence away --- am I right?"
"I have never in all my time on the bench. What did you do, Kill someone?"
"David has only one leg, and I am trying to get a prosthesis for him."
"I'm sorry ... So, you're saying you are willing to spend thousands of pounds for this prosthesis, and Social Services is refusing to let you... but why?"
"According to their rules, they have to have one of their own physicians examine him; then if they agree that he needs the treatment after months of waiting, they will approve it. Then, it's okay for me to get him to a specialist of their choosing; but I have no doubt that it will be refused. In the meantime, there is a child, David, who at one point was on the verge of suicide --- he's eleven years old."
"Okay, here is where I think we stand, I don't think they can stop any treatment; unless the treatment was being used as punishment, or do anything that would harm the child. I have known you for what, ten years? And I know you would never hurt any child. Therefore, I will give them no choice and push for tomorrow; but it will have to be an early session."
"God, Edna, I don't care; you can even do it at midnight. And when you're done, you can represent me; because I'm going to ... warning in advance ... kill that b***ard after this is sorted. Another thing, I was going to ask for you to represent David when I can get him in front of the magistrate for his adoption."
"Adoption, are you serious?"
"Edna, you have to meet him, believe me, you'd understand. He's a mother's dream. When you get the report, you will be as angry as I was, believe me."
"Let me read the file, after which, if you want me to represent him, I will. But really, you won't need me. Edward, you have a trusted title in an honourable profession, and I know you would never use it for anything more than what it is there for. Edward, you are respected; and personally, I have never heard a bad word spoken about you. Well, there was one - your intimidation behind the wheel, but I think we can let that slide."
"I have every intention of David becoming my son; and I'll beg, steal, or borrow for that to happen. To be honest, and believe me I am not joking, he could do my job anytime; even yours. God must have been on my side when he came to the house. How's this for an eleven-year-old... Shakespeare, Dickens... and that is just a small part of how intelligent he is."
"And guess who taught him, no, it wasn't me. He taught himself at the local library. He has been an orphan since birth. You've heard of Briarcroft, the Cambridge of the East. What that boy has gone through is thorough torture, and by Social Services no less. I want you to read the report; and believe me, you'll be spitting fire. Amanda Robinson is his social worker; as a reference only. Please get this in court tomorrow --- God only knows how terrified David is."
"Henry mentioned it before I came here, Edna. I have been thinking about putting my name forward to move up the final step, if you know what I mean?"
"You want to be a judge? About time... if you want, I can put a word in; might not do any good, but it's worth giving it a try."
"To be honest, it would make life easier, I mean I'm here at the Bailey sometimes five days out of seven, and that's if I can get into London. As you know, I live in Suffolk, and that is some way to come every day, no matter what transport I use. If I can look down from the top judge, then I will only get called in for, I suppose you could call it specialist work. And coming into London to officiate would cut out the travelling, as I'd use the accommodation they have nearby."
"It took two hours last Friday just to get out of London itself. Listen, Edward, I am not pushing you out, but if you need this case heard tomorrow, I need to get some files."
"Thanks again, Edna."
"It will definitely be on the roster tomorrow, if I have to summon the whole department."
"I need to get back to my office as well, I've got my mother here in a taxi, and I'm not sure she'll be too excited about waiting around. And seeing as my life won't be worth living if I don't get back, then going up that ladder will seem a lot further away."
"Give her my best."
"I will, and thanks again, Edna."
"Mother, will you get James on the phone? It looks like we are staying closer to London than I like."
"It's short notice."
"I know, but I have to be in court tomorrow to try and overturn what Social Services have done. I don't like it any more than you, but David should come first, don't you think?"
"James, do you have room for me and mother. Thanks. Well, I could, but we'd probably be here all night. Okay. The simple version is that the 'best of the best' doctor you recommended has got David taken back into care and my fostering licence has been revoked. It's been the best day of my life - I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. We'll be there, maybe an hour. Thanks again, James."
"Edward, are you sure you're all right?"
"Yes, I feel so refreshed that I may try for the channel tonight. I mean, what's so difficult about swimming to France?
"The sarcasm I can do without, thank you."
"God, I've done nothing but apologize today. Sorry, Mother. Come on Mother, let's get going or we'll never get there."
"Edward, come in, James is in the kitchen; would you believe it, he is actually making a drink."
"Thanks, Louise. I'm sorry to barge in so late like this, but it seemed the obvious thing to do. I seem to be saying sorry a lot today."
"Don't be silly, you and Elizabeth are always welcome. Jeremy and Samantha are in bed, Jeremy might still be awake ... you want to tuck him in? You know what kids are like - never sleep right away."
"With respect, Louise, I'm not sure I'd be good company for Jeremy right now."
"I understand. Come on let's get in front of the fire. It's cold outside, and you look like you need a drink. Do you want something a little stronger, or just something warm?"
"I'll have a coffee, if you don't mind, and Mother tea. Thanks, Louise."
"I'll let James know you're here."
"Mother, Edward, tell me what happened; and if Wiseman has had anything to do with this, I am going to create my own big bang; and believe me, it's not one that should worry the universe.
"So, just because you didn't make an appointment, it came to this?"
"No.... it's not the appointment, it's the courtesy visit where this all began. If it was the case that he didn't do home visits - not all Doctors go to patient's homes - I would have accepted that readily. But to be so arrogant to think he is doing his patients a favour. Well, she did ask if I wanted to make the appointment, and I explained nicely the reasons I would not be making one, then I politely ended the conversation."
There was silence for some considerable time as we all tried to gather our thoughts. "I seem to be making enemies since David found his way to the house..."
"Are you are saying this is David's fault? How could you?"
"Mother, you really think I'd be so low as to blame a sick child? I thought you knew me better than that. David is not the problem, it's the people around him. I'm saying, what I've seen from the beginning, he has been overlooked by couples and people alike. You know, when you think about it, he's stronger than any one of us thought. When this is all over, I am going to push for an enquiry. I know I'm changing the subject, James; but I need to talk to you about something. It's something I said to Henry earlier about being a judge that got me to thinking again. Believe me, I have thought of this many, many times; but never used the effort to do anything about it. I'm pretty sure I can get support, with some luck of course. I'll go free for awhile, in a way gain some experience. I don't have a practise, which has its downside; but as it is, it may be a blessing. I want to stay in law, but at the same time get away from what I do now. Like I said, it would still be in the same aspects of what I do now. I wanted to stay at the High Court, but in the last couple of hours, all I have thought about is becoming a district judge, which would be perfect as things are now. With having David ... and believe me, I will have David! Don't even think otherwise!"
"We'll leave you boys to talk. Elizabeth, shall we go make a drink?"
"I'd like to stay, if it's okay, Louise, but why now, Edward? I thought this was always what you wanted to do?"
"Please, Mother, not now."
"Mother, if you're worried about the title... Don't. QC I am, and will always be; and one day, it will be passed down to David."
"Is that as much as you think of me? Edward, you always loved the law, that's why you took the bar, wasn't it? Now you're considering becoming a simple magistrate, who in truth, can't blow their nose without permission?"
"That's harsh - they are a big part of English law in a way. The catalyst looks like this is going to take longer than I thought. A District Judge consists mainly in two sectors of law - in the most part, local law, civil, and family law, which I am airing on the side of. As magistrates go, they are both the same - but in a different way - with differing priorities."
"I know I am not involved in this, but why? I agree with Mother, it was the only job you ever wanted to do. I know you'll still be in the same profession, but it would be like a director becoming a drain cleaner!"
"You are my brother, so you are a part of this. It won't be like you think - downgrading. At some level, this is going to be hard for you to understand; but with what happened to David; well, how many others are there that are suffering the same?"
"I like this part of you, Edward. I think you have really matured. I'm proud of you, brother."
"Thanks, James, but I was hoping you could... no, would help me. I know you are not in that side of medicine, but doctors talk, so if one of them heard of any kids being mistreated, and should that quietly get dropped in your ear...? James, Mother, I need to do this."
"Once you do this, there's no going back, you know that! I'm in the wrong place, the wrong side of medicine; but if you are really serious about this, I'll change my practice and go into paediatrics. I will need to take a refresher course, of course. And I'm guessing that will take maybe up to two years, but I should still have my work here in Oxford." He turned to look at Louise.
"James, the one thing that drew me to you was how close you and your family are. Don't get me wrong, Elizabeth, but there is nothing or nobody that will dare try separating me from James. I have had dates other than with James before, but I had never met anyone so lovable --- then I met his family. He and his family were so close, even accepting of me. I knew I could never love anyone else. James, I have gone wherever you go for how long now, ten years? The ride as been an adventure, so why are you asking me?"
"You know, you will have to move closer to the estate? That's a big change, James? And expense. Bugger it ... you find a place, and I'll pay to move you."
"Edward! Watch your language please, you are still not too old to get a clip around the ear." Smiles quickly spread around the room.
Comments and questions are always appreciated at Terry