AUTHOR: Carrie Verkman
SUMMARY: As Father's Day nears, memories of John's childhood relationship with his father come in to play as he helps a boy abused by his father.
John Carter nervously tapped his pencil on the desk in the lounge. He sat there with the phone to his ear, listening to ring after ring. Come on, please be there, he thought. This was the first time in his long twelve-hour shift he had a break and he needed to make an important phone call. Finally the ringing stopped and someone answered the phone. "Carter residence," a woman said.
"Marita? This is John."
"Hello Dr. Carter!" Marita answered happily. She had been the Carter's maid since John was a toddler. "You are doing well, no?"
"I am fine, and please call me John. Is my Dad there?"
"No, I am sorry. He will be gone for another two weeks on a cruise."
John was disappointed. His father was always traveling outside the country and reaching him was impossible.
"Shall I tell him you called?" asked Marita.
"No, I'll talk to him when he gets back. Thank you." John said.
"Bye." John hung up the phone and let out an exasperated sigh. His attempt at talking to Roland Carter had failed again. He could at least stay in town for Father's Day, John thought.
Just then Luka Kovac entered the lounge. "Oh excuse me, was I interrupting something important?"
"Not anymore." John said, "I tried calling my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day."
Luka wondered why Americans made such a big deal out of Father's and Mother's Day. "This Father's Day you speak of, it comes every year?"
"Yeah." John answered.
"And you give gifts? Make phone calls?" He asked.
"Yes. It's a day created by Hallmark to boost their greeting card sales. Really, Luka it's pointless if you can't even get a hold of you father." John said.
"I must get back to work. Good Luck with your father." Luka said leaving the lounge.
"Thanks." John rubbed his face with his hands. His relationship with his dad was not a close one. And speaking of close, Roland Carter wasn't, he traveled away from his children often. There were so many times John needed his father and he was no where to be found. Sure, Roland was supportive, practically buying John's way into medical school, but he needed support otherwise. Not just money to give John everything he desired. John wanted that strong father-son bond you only see on television.
End of Chapter One
"Mommy!" The little boy cried.
"Oh John, I missed you and Barbara so much! Come here!" Sarah Carter said pulling her two children into a warm hug. It had been two weeks since little John and Barbara had been sent to boarding school. It was Roland's idea to send them there, saying it would be good for them. After losing Bobby, Sarah felt as if her last two children were being pulled away from her. But Sarah didn't think about that now, she was happy to see her son and daughter.
"Where is Daddy?" asked John.
Sarah hoped that the topic of him being gone wouldn't come up. "He had to go on a business trip sweetie. He misses you and wishes he could be here."
"Again?" asked Barbara.
"Again. But he'll be back soon." Sarah said reassuring her children. She noticed something that John was holding behind his back, "What is that John?"
"A Father's Day card."
"Well mommy can give it to him for you."
"No! It's my card! I made it and I will give it to him!" John yelled. He ran off from his mother upset that his daddy wasn't there.
John never gave the card to his dad. It was just too painful. John opened up a box that was underneath his bed. He pulled out the wrinkled card, then placed it back in the box. Among the items in the box were pictures of his dad, most of them sent on post cards from other countries. There were only a few pictures of him and his dad together. There were also letters claiming that he missed John and would "be home soon". John then saw a picture of his family together before Bobby died. John was very young in the picture. Only about 7 or 8 years old. He wished for his family to be closer. But John was lucky. He figured he shouldn't be complaining about not seeing his dad. There were other people he knew that didn't even have their fathers. Mark Greene's dad recently died of lung cancer and Carol Hathaway's father died when she was little. Kerry or Elizabeth didn't see their fathers at all. John knew he was lucky. Realizing he was late for work, John put all the items back in the box, back under his bed. It's going to be okay John, he thought to himself, and your dad won't be at work. With that thought John smiled and left for work.
End of Chapter Two
"Carter, there's a patient waiting for you in Curtain 3. 12 year old boy with a fever of 102.5." announced Haleh.
"Right. I got it." John said taking the chart from Haleh. John walked over to Curtain 3 expecting to see a sick little boy, but saw more than that when he entered the room. There was a young woman and about 5 small babies in strollers and car seats along with the boy on the bed.
"Uh, the nurse said there was just a 12 year old boy in here." John wondered.
"The nurse was right. He's on the bed." said the woman.
"Are you his mother?" John asked.
"No, I'm his daycare provider. Kevin's running a fever and with all the small kids I have, I can't have a sick kid in my house. I had to bring along the smallest kids with me and my daughter is with the oldest kids at home. I really should be going back to them." said the daycare lady.
"Okay" John said. He had never seen one woman with so many children.
"Oh, by the way, here is his father's work number. I'd stay, but I can't for obvious reasons. Feel better Kevin, call me when you get home." The woman left with her children.
John read Kevin's chart. "Your 12 years old?"
"Yeah. My dad makes me go to that stupid daycare. I can take care of myself you know."
"I'm sure you can. You seem man enough." John said trying to cheer him up. "How long have you had this fever?"
"Since this morning. I have a headache too. Will you call my dad?" asked Kevin.
"Yes I will. What's his name?"
"Let me listen to you chest. Can you sit up?"
Kevin sat up. John ran a stethoscope across his back. John was horrified when he opened up the boy's gown and saw large bruises all over it. He also noticed that his legs were scraped up pretty badly. Kevin's spine stuck out of his back showing that he hadn't had a lot to eat.
"Kevin how did you get those bruises all over your back?" asked John.
"I fell off my bike." he said.
"Pretty bad fall." John said as he kept examining him. Kevin didn't say anything back to John. "Well Kevin, you do have a fever that's pretty high. Haleh is going to start you on some antibiotics and I will call you dad." John said. He pulled Haleh over to him.
"What is it Dr. Carter?" she asked.
"The poor kid is pretty malnourished. Get him started on carbohydrates and vitamins. It'll also help the fever. I'm going to call the father and find out what's going on." he explained.
John left the room as Haleh got Kevin his medicine. John went to the front desk. He picked up the phone and dialed the number to Jack Roberts' work. The phone rang forever until a woman answered.
"Yes, this is John Carter from County General Hospital. May I speak to Jack Roberts please?"
"Who is calling?" the secretary asked.
"Dr. Carter from County General. This is about Jack's son Kevin." He was annoyed already.
"I'm sorry but Jack is out to lunch."
"Okay, here is my pager number and the number to the hospital. Have Jack call me." John said. Then he realized that the secretary had hung up with him after he gave out his numbers. How nice, he thought sarcastically. John went back to see Kevin.
"Hey there, how are you doing?" he asked.
"Okay, I guess. Do I really need all these tubes?" Kevin asked, pointing to the IV's.
"Yes, they'll help you feel better. Kevin where does your dad work?" John wondered.
"My dad's an insurance agent. He goes out a lot. Did you call him?"
"Yes I did, but he's out to lunch. Is there anyone else you can think of that I could call? Mom? Grandparents?"
Kevin looked away with a sad look on his face. "Mom died when I was little."
"I see. I'll try calling your dad again later." John said. He patted Kevin on his head and left the room. He wondered if Kevin's dad was around a lot. He was a skinny boy who was way underweight for his age, and there was no mother in the family. Then he remembered the bruises. He hoped to God Kevin wasn't being abused by his dad. The thought of that made him nauseous. John could relate to young Kevin about not seeing his dad. He decided to talk to him later about that. But Roland Carter never hit any of his children and John was worried for Kevin.
End of Chapter Three
John wasn't having any luck reaching Kevin's father. Every time he called the office the rude secretary answered saying he wasn't there. John decided to talk to Kevin now. He knew it would be hard for him.
"Hey Kevin can I ask you some questions?" asked John.
"About what?" he said.
Kevin looked away.
"I think I can help you." John said reassuringly. "Is you dad at home a lot?"
Kevin didn't answer.
"You have to tell me or I can't help you." John said.
"My dad is hardly ever at home. That's why I go to that daycare." Kevin said softly.
"I see. Hey, my dad wasn't around a lot when I was your age. He traveled a lot for business." John did have something in common with Kevin.
"Really?" he asked.
"Yes, but this isn't about me. Do you get a lot to eat?"
"I can't cook. So sometimes when dad's asleep I don't eat."
"He sleeps when he comes home from work?" John was trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together.
"After he has some beer. Then he gets really angry at me for not doing my homework or something like that." Kevin said.
"Kevin, does your dad hit you? Is that how you got those bruises on your back?" asked John.
"I fell off my bike!" Kevin shouted. "Don't talk to me! I hate this place!" Kevin got out of bed, but he tripped and fell. He started to cry. John picked Kevin up and put him in his bed. He wrapped an arm around Kevin. Poor kid, he thought.
"Kevin, I can help you to be safe from your dad."
"You will? He will stop hitting me?" Kevin said wiping tears from his eyes.
"Yes." John said, "I hope so." He added quietly.
John realized Kevin's situation. He had an alcoholic and abusive father. Jack Roberts had no respect for his son. Poor Kevin was on his own and he needed help. John had seen people like Jack before. He knew how to help Kevin. Yes, he probably should be with his dad, but John hoped he could help provide a better future for Kevin. He compared his childhood relationship with his father to Kevin's. Kevin's should be better, John thought.
End of Chapter Four
It was getting late in the ER. Kevin was still there. John decided to stay with Kevin until his father showed up. John had also called Social Services to come down and see Kevin. He didn't mind staying with him and Kevin seemed much happier with John there.
"No, Nintendo 64 is better than Sega Genesis by far!" Kevin said. He liked talking about video games with John, because he had a lot to learn.
"I see, but I never had any of that when I was a kid. We only had Pong." John said smiling.
"Pong? What's that?"
John laughed. "Maybe we should talk about something else. Do you like the Bulls Kevin?"
"I love the Bulls," he replied. But before the two of them could get into detail about that, Randi interrupted them.
"Dr. Carter, Jack Roberts is on the phone."
Kevin's eyes lit up as he heard the news. "Stay here Kevin while I talk to your dad."
John went out to the front desk. "This is Dr. Carter."
"Uh, yeah this is Jack Roberts. I'm calling about Kevin, is he all right?"
John felt like yelling at him. He so badly wanted to scream until his throat was raw. "Mr. Roberts, Kevin is fine. But did you know that he has been sitting here all day asking for you?"
"My secretary just gave me the message." Jack said.
"You weren't at all curious where he was?"
"He goes to the daycare every morning before school."
"The daycare provider brought him here. Look you need to come down here and see your son or I will have social services take him from you. I know you abuse him and I know that you have a drinking problem. Kevin shouldn't have a father like you!" John said angrily.
"Hey! I'll come down there and show you what a damn good father I can be! Social Services my ass!" With that Jack hung up.
John picked the phone up again. "Yeah I need some security at Curtain 3 in the ER. Send Social Services down here too."
John went back to Kevin's room. "Kevin get dressed. Your father is coming."
End of Chapter Five
Jack Roberts stormed into the ER. No one told him how to raise his son. No one had the right to say he was abusive or that he had a drinking problem. Who do these doctors think they are? Jack pushed his way to the front desk. He even startled Randi. "Where is my son?" he demanded.
"I'm sorry, you are?" Randi had no idea who this was.
"Where is Kevin!?" Jack shouted.
Dr. Carter heard his loud voice. He rushed to the desk, with security close behind. "Mr. Roberts?"
"Where is Kevin? I'll take him home now." Jack began to push his way past John.
"Mr. Roberts, you can only see your son if you can calm down! This isn't appropriate behavior." John warned him. He could smell alcohol in his breath and smoke on his clothes.
Jack stared at John, but he remained calm. Jack was allowed to see Kevin. Security stayed close by. John watched Jack and his son. "Oh Kevin son, I am so sorry. Now that you're feeling better we can go home and put this all behind us. How about that?"
"Dad, I don't, I" Kevin said.
"What is it?"
"I don't want to go back home. I hate it when you hit me. I don't like it!" Kevin said.
"Did that Carter brainwash you? You're supposed to tell people you fell off your bike!" Jack said angrily.
John stood there with Jack and Kevin. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Jack told his son to lie about this. John spoke up, "Mr. Roberts, Kevin will be taken into protective custody tonight. Social Services will place him with a foster family."
"What the hell does that mean?" Jack asked.
"Kevin has agreed to this. He only wants to have a safe childhood. Mr. Roberts I'm sorry but you can no longer see your son. You are way to dangerous around him." John explained.
"I'll show you dangerous!" With that Jack got up and attacked John. Jack forcefully punched him in the face. Security restrained him and led him out of the room. John let out muffled cries of pain.
Kevin was still in the room. "Dr. Carter, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine." John said wiping blood from his nose. He grabbed a tissue. "I'm sorry about your dad."
"I'll be okay. Right?" asked Kevin.
Kevin then left with a social worker. He would be safe now. John felt better knowing he had saved a little boy from his abusive
father. John stood there, a bit shaken up from the punch. He checked himself out. A bloody nose and a black eye was beginning to show. At least it's me, not Kevin, he thought. John cleaned himself up. He looked at his watch. It was midnight, the next day. Father's day. John sighed. Since he was going to be back at work in a few hours, he stayed at the hospital. Early that morning John got a call from the social worker. He said that Kevin had been placed with a foster family and that Jack Roberts was sentenced to 90 days in jail plus probation for 2 years. He can see Kevin again when he is 18 years old. John thanked the social worker for his call. He was so relieved that Kevin was okay. Kevin wouldn't have to spend Father's Day with Jack anymore. John remembered the holiday was today. He didn't bother calling Roland Carter.
John was sitting at the desk reading some files when someone called his name, "John?"
John looked up, "Dad?" He saw Roland Carter staring at him.
"Marita told me you had called. She said you seemed upset that I wasn't there. I got back early from my cruise today and realized that it's Father's Day. I thought a better gift would be for you to see your father." Roland said.
John didn't say a word because if he did he would begin to cry. He just walked over and hugged him. Roland hugged him back. " I missed you son."
"I missed you too dad. I can't believe you'd do this." John said, trying not to cry.
"I now know the mistakes I made when you, Barbara, and Bobby were little. I can't.I won't ignore you as adults." Roland said.
John kept hugging Roland, "I love you daddy."
"I love you too John. Now wipe those tears off your face! We've got a lot of catching up to do. You can explain how the hell you got a black eye for starters. Let's get some coffee first okay?" Roland asked.
"Great," John said as left with his father, "But it's a long story."
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