by Elle Cyre
A young man searches for his birth-parents.
A Man Named Everton
A soft summer breeze drifted through the windows, gently lifting the transparent curtains and floating luxuriously across the sofa. A young man sat lazily upon the white, over-stuffed cushions, his head resting easily against a palm. A white-haired woman sat opposite, saucer in one hand, sipping from a tea cup with the other.
“Mother,” the man asked suddenly, “Who were my parents?”
“Everton, I wish I knew.”
The old lady lifted her grey eyes. They grew misty beholding the strong, mature image of her son. Twenty years ago this very day, Mr. and Mrs. Wentford chose to adopt Everton. The curly-haired five-year-old had touched their hearts immediately. The couple being wealthy—and otherwise childless—Everton received a fine education and upbringing. Now, after graduating medical school, the young man’s mind meandered to his past.
“I often wonder why they didn’t want me,” he mused.
Mrs. Wentford moved to the cushion alongside and squeezed his knee. “They had reasons, I’m sure. I only wish they could see you now—they would be so proud.”
Everton nodded absently, thoughts miles away. “If they’re alive, I’ll find them. It can’t be impossible. After I finish the report on my cancer research, I shall be free to locate them.”
His mother’s face smiled. “If anyone can find them, I know it is you. Your endeavors are always blessed with success.”
Everton never diverted attention. Upon completing his medical studies, he devoted all efforts to locate his birth-parents. It was a simple matter to obtain the address of the adoption center. He traveled to the big metropolis and found the place much as he dimly remembered it.
“Good afternoon,” a kind-faced woman greeted him. “Welcome to Charity’s Child.”
Everton quickly explained his purpose and the lady introduced him to their senior member. An old nun, her face a continuous smile, nodded happily upon meeting him.
“My have you grown!” she chirped.
“So you remember me? What about my parents? Do you recall their names?”
The perpetual smile never wavered. “Oh no, child, we never ask questions. I do remember the lady though—such a wee girl—and you such a teeny baby! Her hair was a mess of curls—just like yours!”
“And my father?”
At that, the old woman’s eyes grew grave. “She was alone, dear, and hadn’t a penny on her. I’m afraid she’d run from home. Other than that, I’ve nothing else to add—except your name. She insisted you’d be named Everton. That’s why I remember.”
The singular clue, although slight, was enough for Everton. He started a relentless search, investigating every name, surname and nickname of Everton. The most promising he personally explored, sparing no expense. He even traveled abroad to England. Time and again he met with disappointment. No one had any answers he sought.
At last his exhausting pursuit led him to the door of a worn-down structure, tucked away in a quaint town in the Midwest. An elderly man answered the bell. His wrinkled face and wispy white hair reminded Everton of his adopted father.
“Everton Denton I presume?”
“Yes?” the old man croaked in return. His eyes, like those of a weary wolf, searched the young man’s face carefully. “What do you want?”
“I am the Everton Wentford whom you spoke with on the phone.”
“Ah yes—do come in.”
He invited Everton into the shabby house. The faded furniture and overall age of the carpets suggested a recent decline in income. Family photos lined the walls and Everton’s eyes searched curiously. Did they hold a clue to his ancestry?
“You mentioned questions regarding my daughter, Amanda?”
“Yes,” Everton replied, breaking out of thought. “When you mentioned how she had run away as a girl, I wondered if she could be my birth-mother.”
The old man stopped short, eying Everton keenly. “And your reasons are?”
“I know nothing about her—except that she was a single mother and named me Everton. I thought it may have some connection to a family member. I do apologize if I’ve offended you—I’m just grasping at straws.”
But the elder Everton had a look of deep thought. “Amanda ran away a year after her mother died,” he said. “I suspect it was with some boy she met—Ervin I believe his name was. I heard nothing from her for about two years—giving her up for dead. Eventually she contacted me, to my delight, but never explained her flight or where she lived in the meantime. Apparently it wasn’t with Ervin. I wished her to come home but she was comfortably settled in the big city.”
“I would love to meet her,” Everton commented. “Have you any means of reaching her?”
The old man sighed, shaking his head softly. “I’ve not seen her in ten…fifteen years? She sends word now and then. I haven’t her new address since she moved around five years ago—I’m sorry.”
The young doctor nodded understandably. “Well, if you ever hear from her, I would appreciate word. Here is my address and phone number.”
Old Everton Denton did call back. Having just received a postcard, he reported that his errant daughter planned to return for her hometown’s heritage celebration.
“Amanda was enchanted the first time she attended,” he told Everton. “She loved the night parade and all the singing and dancing. It’s only held every ten years and she missed the last opportunity.”
Everton told Mr. Denton to expect him at the festival and arrange a meeting with Amanda. Scrambling to pack and reach the remote town in time, he set off with high hopes. He could scarcely contain his excitement. Was the elusive Ms. Denton his mother?
Everton’s journey neared an end as he entered the town’s quaint streets. He pulled off the highway and pressed his brakes at a red light to double-check his directions. Now so close to his destination, he found his palms sweaty. A rapid heartbeat betrayed the emotion, despite his calm exterior.
A second later, a car-horn blared in his ears. He whipped his head up. A man stepped into the crosswalk, oblivious to a fast car approaching. Brakes screeched. Other pedestrians screamed. The car slid helplessly through the intersection. It dealt the man a glancing blow, knocking him aside as an errant object would be. Everton thrust his car into park and jabbed his seatbelt open. Flying from his seat, he raced to the side of the fallen man.
The driver careened his vehicle into the curb and leapt out, clearly distraught. “Good gracious, someone please call an ambulance!”
A crowd quickly gathered around the unfortunate man. Everton waved them back, kneeling beside the victim.
“I’m a doctor,” he told them.
“Oh, thank God!” the car driver exclaimed. “Can you help him? Is he dead?”
Everton already discovered the man was still alive but unconscious. His breathing had stopped and vital signs were already weakening. Relying on instinct, Everton quickly applied CPR. Soon a feeble breath was heard and a murmur of anxious relief came from the bystanders. However, he was still in peril. Everton used every bit of medical training to keep him from entering fatal shock until the ambulance arrived.
Everton’s quick action saved the crash victim’s life. The local doctor was the first to confirm that fact when he gave him the preliminary report. Everton, having accompanied the man in the ambulance, breathed a sigh of relief.
“I was so afraid,” he said. “It was horrific to witness.”
“Well, he should make a full recovery, thanks to your handiwork,” the doctor told him. “He owes you his life. What’s your name?”
“Everton. Everton Wentford.”
“You mean the Everton Wentford?” the man exclaimed. “The young physician who’s on the fast track to curing cancer?”
Everton grinned. “Someone listened to my presentation, I see.”
“Well, no wonder your quick hands saved a life today. They’ll be responsible for saving millions by the end of your lifespan. What proud parents you must have.”
“I am forever indebted to them,” Everton agreed. Suddenly he slapped his forehead. “The meeting! Is it too late? I’ve missed it!”
The doctor looked a bit surprised and then smiled sympathetically. “Well, saving a life was definitely worth the delay, son.”
Everton drove to the festival anyway, but he had missed the opportunity to meet Ms. Amanda Denton. Mr. Denton promised to contact him the next time she came home, but he knew the chance was slim. The old man hardly saw his own daughter anymore as it was. Never-the-less, Everton thanked him and returned home feeling less than discouraged.
Months later, Everton returned to the small town. The man whose life he saved had asked to meet the young doctor and Everton came as asked. He found the man seated in the lobby when he came in, cleared to leave the hospital with a clean bill of health.
“Yes, that would be me,” Everton replied.
“I’m Mr. Forester,” the man told him. “Won’t you sit down?”
Everton seated himself on the chair next to the man and grasped his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. I’m glad to see you’ve made a full recovery.”
“Please, the pleasure is all mine,” Mr. Forester laughed. “If it weren’t for you, I’d be dead. I wanted to thank you personally for what you did. I owe you my life and I’d like to know if there was something I could do for you.”
Everton smiled bashfully. “You do not owe me anything, sir. I’m just thankful I could help. Just go on living your life and that’d be enough for me.”
A sigh escaped the middle-aged man. “My life? That’s one thing I’ve no wish to do. The last twenty years have been one great waste of time. I even considered ending it just to escape all my problems.”
“Well, I’m sorry to hear that, sir. I hope it turns around for you soon.”
“I’m determined to make it so,” Mr. Forester declared. “I’ll start anew. This accident has given me an opportunity to see my world clearer, to really think back on the mistakes I’ve made. I’ve time to correct them. There is just one regret I’ve borne that won’t go away.”
Everton listened with his usual interest. “What is that?”
The man’s thoughtfulness grew removed. His mouth twitched. “There was this girl once, a smart, special kind of girl; she and I had something. We were very happy and I imagined we’d spend our whole lives together. Then everything changed. She was with child. We weren’t ready for that—we weren’t even married yet! I couldn’t support a family and—and she refused to get rid of it. I just—I couldn’t stay. I had to leave—I up and left and abandoned her.”
Everton remained silent when the man paused. He waited patiently for him to continue. Finally Mr. Forester cleared his throat.
“It’s bugged me ever since. I realized years later that I truly did love her and regretted ever walking away. But what could I do? Even if I did find her, I’d hurt her too much to ever repair our relationship.”
“It’s never too late,” Everton said quietly. “You should find her.”
Mr. Forester stared at the far wall. Then he sighed and turned to the young man. “You know, I just might. After all, a sincere apology would definitely ease the burden of guilt. Thank you for your advice and all you’ve done for me. You’ve really saved my life in more ways than one.”
Everton shook his hand sincerely and wished him luck.
As Everton rose to leave, the lobby door burst open. A petite, curly-haired, woman hurried in, her face all a whirl of anxiety and fear. When she caught sight of the man next to Everton, relief flooded her features. She rushed over to grasp his hand.
“Oh Ervin!” she gasped. “I was so afraid I’d miss you here! I read all about your accident in the newspaper and I had to come back to try and see you! I’m so glad that you are all right!”
Mr. Forester stared at the lady with eyes of startling recognition. “Manda?” he gasped. “Is it really you?”
The woman nodded rapidly. “Yes, yes it’s me! I’m so happy to see you!”
“I don’t believe it! I just decided to start looking for you, Manda! Coming so close to death, I realized how sorry I was for the way I treated you. Can you ever forgive me?”
“Oh Ervin, I forgave you long ago! I tried to locate you years ago. What a shock to find your picture in the paper! I had just come here for the festival—and I’m so glad I did! How I’ve missed you!”
The man’s eyes brimmed over. “My dear, precious Amanda,” he whispered. “It’s a miracle you’ve come back to me. And our child? Did you raise it alone?”
The woman shook her head. “I left him for adoption.”
Everton stood watching with a growing sense of shock. “You’re Ms. Amanda Denton? Your child—did you name him Everton?”
The lady turned her head to stare at him. “Why yes, after my father! How on earth did you know that? Who are you?”
“He’s the wonderful man who saved my life,” Ervin told her.
“Oh, how I must thank you for that!” Amanda gasped, clutching his hand. “You are a wonderful, blessed gift; you truly are! What is your name?”
“My name is Everton…” he stammered, “and…I think I’m your son.”