James can't communicate like everyone else. But he needs to find a way to do it.
James makes his hands into fists and starts pounding them to his chest as apes do. When his parents don’t react to him, he does it again. Still no response. They just continue to argue about him. He can’t hear them too well. But he can do it. That’s why he’s sure that they are talking about him.
At twelve, James can’t pound his chest too loud. But he continues to do it anyway as he walks toward his parents in their living room. Suddenly, a hand comes up from his father telling him to stop. Then both his mother and father stop their fighting to face him.
Signing what he wants to say, James starts talking to them. “I know you are arguing about me. I’m not deaf too.”
Before they can respond, James continues his signing. “What are you fighting about. I’m twelve. A lot my age are doing the babysitting. True, most of them are females. But there are quite a few males too.”
“I don’t need a babysitter,” signs James. “I’m old enough to take care of myself. Especially, if it’s only for a few hours.”
“It’s not that we don’t think that you can do it on your own,” says Claire. “We just will feel better if you don’t do it.”
James looks at his father. He knows that he’s about to say something. After all, he has been defending him during their argument. And he’s right. “Speak for yourself,” says Matt. “I think that he can do it.”
“If it was for a day or more, or a week or two,” continues Matt. “Then I would agree with you, Claire. But it’s only for a few hours. I’m sure he will be okay.”
“I know that I’m being a mother hen,” responds Claire. “But you aren’t like normal boys your age. What happens if something goes wrong while you are alone?”
James starts signing again. “What does a normal person do if something happens to them. They deal with it. That’s what they do. I can do that too. It just takes me a little bit longer.”
Claire sighs. “I still don’t like it. But we won’t be gone for too long. And if something does happen, I’m sure you can take care of it. If not, you can always text us.”
Walking over to the almost done window blinds, James opens them a little to see his parents have left. James puts his hand through those blinds to his elbow bend and starts waving at his parents. Almost instantly he pulls his hand back in. He peeks around the front of their house. It doesn’t look like anyone has seen him do that.
James leaves those blinds and walks over to the large recliner in front of the television. He plops down into it and leans back. Then he places his interlocking hands behind his head and closes his eyes. James just stays there that way for quite a while. Suddenly, he starts to snore. His head tilts slightly to his left. And his arms on his armrest fall to the side of his body. James is asleep.
The front doorbell rings. It rings again a few seconds later. On the third ring, several seconds after that is when James sits up in his chair literally. He pitches forward slightly as it moves to its upright position. But he catches himself on his armrest before falling.
Shaking his head and blinking his eyes to wake up, James heads for whoever is at the door. As he goes by the wall clock over the large open entrance into the living room, he looks up at it. According to it, he has been asleep for almost two hours.
When he gets to the front door, James gets on his tiptoes to peek through the eye hole there. What he sees is a man as he’s about to start knocking on the door. At first, it’s a gentle knock. Then after a few times, it becomes louder and longer.
“Matt, Claire, James. Is anyone there?” Patrick asks. “I need to talk to you. It’s about your little sister Alice.”
James slowly looks all around him. He picks up a baseball bat. Then he opens the front door. Quickly, he makes sure that the screen door is locked before he steps back and starts signing. “My parents are upstairs in their bedroom. What do you need to tell them.”
“Oh, I forgot. You can’t speak,” Patrick says after looking confused. “I’m sorry. I don’t know sign language.”
Patrick takes out a pen and paper and starts writing something on it. “Please, give this to your parents. It’s very important.”
After Patrick finishes writing his note about Alice, he tries to give it to James. But when James doesn’t come and gets it, Patrick places it in the door frame. Only after Patrick leaves that James goes to get that note. Without reading it, James places it on the table next to the recliner in the living room.
Once he places that note, James goes leave the living room through the doorway next to the television there. A few minutes later he returns with a sandwich in his hand that he has already started eating. He’s still eating it as he leaves there again. Only this time it’s to go to the stairs opposite the now closed front door.
James only gets to the third step when a little bit of mayo comes out of his sandwich. It falls on the steps right in front of his foot. He slips on that mayo and falls back down those stairs. James doesn’t look too good with his arms and legs being misshaped beneath a body that hasn’t moved yet. His eyes are closed. And his cell phone is only a few feet away from him.
Slowly, James opens his eye and moves his head slightly. He tries his arms and legs. But he can’t do it. Then he tries his hands. And he can move them a little. He also tries his feet. They also move slightly. Now he’s trying to look all around him.
What James sees is his cell phone next to the baseball bat by the front door and some other sporting equipment like a baseball and a basketball. James tries to reach his cell phone. But he can’t do that either. He tries it twice more with the same results. After doing nothing for several minutes, he tries his feet and body to scoot him closer to his cell phone.
James can barely reach his cell phone. He taps the Text Icon. And it does come up. But when he tries to select one of his parent tabs, he can’t do it. James is about to try it again when he sees the Phone Icon. He taps that instead. When that Icon appears, he hits nine, one, one after he taps the Keypad Icon.
“911, this is Denise. How can I help you?”
After no one answers, Denise asks her question again. “Is anyone there?” Denise asks after a few seconds.
James rolls his eyes toward his forehead in frustration. That’s when he sees the sporting equipment. He scoots himself to it. Once he’s there, he grabs the baseball bat and throws it at a lamp on a table on the other side of the front door. James misses the lamp. But he does hit the table. That does cause the lamp to fall off that table and break.
Next, James grabs the baseball. He throws it at the curtained oblong window above the table he has just broken. It does break the glass there. But because of the curtain, it doesn’t go through that window. After grabbing the baseball, the basketball starts rolling. He grabs that between his feet and tosses it at a vase just inside the living room entrance. That vase also falls and breaks.
“Someone is there,” says Denise through James’ cell phone. “And it sounds like you are in trouble.”
“I just noticed,” continues Denise. “Is this James King? No wonder you didn’t answer. I’m sending help to you right now.”
About an hour later, Matt and Claire come running into their house. They stop just after entering to see the baseball. “That explains the broken glass on the outside,” says Matt.”
They also see the broken lamp. Slowly, they start looking around at what else has happened there. “Did James throw a wild party while we were gone?” Matt asks.
“That doesn’t sound like him,” answers Claire. “Speaking of James, where is he?”
Both start shouting James’ name. They also start looking around again as they are doing it. As they do that, they see James’ cell phone. Matthew picks it up and hits Star sixty, nine. “911, this is Walter. How can I help you?”
After finding out what has happened to James, Matt and Claire run back to their car and head for the hospital where James has been taken. About a half-hour later, they are running down a busy hallway until they get to the room James is in. They just stare at him through the glass sliding doors: his arms and legs are in casts.
Just as they are about to enter that room, a doctor comes out. “It’s not as bad as it looks.”
“Nothing is broken,” says Dr. Sarah Plange. “But he does have a bad sprain in both of his arms and legs. Because of his age, we thought it best to put them in a cast.”
“I didn’t realize that was going to be a problem with his signing,” continues Sarah. “And he has been doing that ever since he came in here.”
Matt and Claire run into their son’s room. Claire is on one side of the bed James is in. And Matt is on the other side. Both grab his hands. Trying to stop him from signing. “Relax, James,” says Claire.
“It’s obvious, you have something to tell us. Just relax and start over again,” says Matt.
James stops signing. Almost instantly, he starts doing it again. “The note from Patrick about Alice on the living room table next to the recliner. Did you read it?”
“What note?” Matt asks.
“The one that Patrick sort of gave to me to give to you,” signs James. “I put it on the table in the living room beside the recliner.”
Matt and Claire look at each other. Claire nods her head once making him smile. He gets up and runs out of that room. About an hour later he returns. Only he doesn’t go back to James’ room. After reading that note, Matt goes to the one that Alice is in.
A couple of hours later Claire wheels James to where Matt and Alice are. They are in beds next to each other. “I was wrong about you,” says Claire. “You don’t need a babysitter anymore.”
“Despite what happened to you, you kept a level head and got the help that you needed. You also got the help that Alice needed.”
“Do you know why Patrick came by our house instead of calling us?” Claire asks. “It’s because he knows we only use text to communicate. And he didn’t want to tell Matt about Alice like that.”
James wheels around in his wheelchair to face Claire and starts signing. “At the front door, he said that he forgot I couldn’t speak.”
“He explained that to us,” responds Claire. “Because of what happened to Alice, he got a little flustered.”
Claire smiles at James. “Thanks to you, she is going to get the kidney that she needs just in time.”
The Word Count = 1,948