Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chapter 10

 Amadeo recovered quickly, laughing at himself when he tried to wipe the moisture from his face with his right hand and bumped his cheek with the cast.  "Swift move, slick," he said aloud to himself.  Milo laughed in relief.  'Deo's mother reached out a hand and rubbed the slightly red mark with her thumb, unshed tears bright in her own eyes.

"C'n I ge' up?" he asked the doctor.

"You've been immobile for a while.  We've been exercising your arms and legs and moving you regularly, but you're going to be a little weak to start.  We'll have to take it slowly, understood?"

" 'k," he said.

"Alright then, lets start by having you sit up," Dr. Mendoza said, nodding to the nurses who had been standing by.

Mrs. Hollings cranked the bed so that the head was elevated while the doctor and the other nurse supported Amadeo on either side in case he slid.  The name tag on the woman supporting him on the left read Liza Henry LPN.  Without realizing what he was doing, he began to sing, "There's a hole, in the bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza, there's a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza, a hole."

Everyone in the room laughed. Ms. Henry blushed but had a huge grin on her face.

Amadeo winced and twitched his shoulders to scratch the itch that developed between the blades.  The doctor supported his head and helped him sit forward while Liza scratched his back gently.  'Deo sighed in relief.

"You'll get a lot of that as your circulation returns to normal," he warned.

"Tha' feels sooo gooood."  'Deo purred.  Too soon for his liking the back scratching ended and he was laid gently back against the pillows that had been piled behind him.

"How does your head feel, Amadeo?  Any pain?  Discomfort?" Dr. Mendoza asked.

" 'urts a little, no'bad though."

"Good," he said smiling.  "Miss Henry, would you please find Sam and Gary?  Tell them we're ready to start."  The second nurse smiled, nodded and left quickly to find the men mentioned.

He was a little dismayed when the doctor asked his parents and Milo to please wait in the visitor's lounge.  "Don't worry," Mendoza assured him, "They can come back soon, but we have some tests and treatments to do and you might want a little privacy in the meantime."

The two men arrived and introduced themselves as Sam Fisher and Gary Bearclaw, explaining that they were physical therapists and what they were going to do.  They were so down to earth and homey that 'Deo liked them immediately.  Mrs. Hollings and Ms. Henry bid them goodbye, assuring Amadeo that they would be seeing him again soon and then left.  

Sam and Gary began to carefully massage 'Deo's arms with some sort of sweet smelling lotion, bending and flexing them, mindful of the IV and the cast.  The movement felt wonderful and 'Deo began, at first tentatively then with more confidence, to move on his own.  He was still weak and shaky but he was moving.  The men and doctor smiled encouragingly.  They untied the back of his hospital gown and applied the lotion as they massaged his neck and back.  Amadeo groaned with pleasure.

They retied the gown and then pulled the blankets down to work on his legs, and it was then that 'Deo realized why the doctor had wanted everyone out of the room for that.  He blushed as he realized that he was wearing nothing other than a hospital gown and that he was hooked up to a bag that...  he blushed even more deeply.  Dr. Mendoza smiled in understanding.  "Don't worry, son.  Now that you're awake we can disconnect that," he said, as he gently removed the device.

Sam and Gary adjusted the hospital gown and pretended they hadn't seen anything while they worked on his legs, massaging and flexing them gently from the hips to his toes.

Amadeo reached from left to right and began to scratch his arm, closing his eyes in pleasure as the itching eased.

One of the men, Gary, gently put his hand on 'Deo's, stopping him from scratching and placed his hand back to his side.  He went to the bathroom and returned with a basin of warm water and a washcloth and soap.  He gently washed the area 'Deo had just been scratching.  It burned slightly.  Deo looked down at his arm with a frown.  

What the heck was Gary doing?  Then he noticed the three scratches which had appeared out of nowhere and which were bleeding slightly.

"I know it feels good to scratch, Amadeo, but you need to be careful," he said kindly as he accepted a bandage from Sam and proceeded to wrap it around the boy's arm. 

"We've been keeping your nails trimmed but you still have a few rough edges.  If you need to scratch, use the palm of your hand, all right?  Or if it gets unbearable, call one of the nurses and they can give you an ointment that will ease the itch. But don't use your nails."

Amadeo sighed but nodded.

"Do you want to try to stand, Amadeo?" Sam asked.  "Only as for as long as you can tolerate it.  Don't worry, Gary and I will be on either side of you and we won't let you fall."

Amadeo nodded again.

"All right then," Gary said, lowering the bed rail as Sam turned a crank on the bed that caused it to get closer to the floor.  "Easy now.  Sit up... slowly, now," he encouraged.

'Deo sat up and fought off a brief surge of dizziness.  "How do you feel?" Sam asked.

"Ok now," Amadeo said assertively.

"Ok, then. We're going to swing your legs over to the side of the bed.  Doc's got your back so if you feel like you're going to go over backward you'll be safe. 

Ready?"

'Deo nodded again and took a deep breath.

Gary took the boy's ankles while the doctor and Sam supported him from the back and side, and pulled gently until 'Deo's legs were clear of the bed.  'Deo slowly bent his knees so that his feet were inches above the floor.

"How's it going so far, son?" asked Dr. Mendoza who had been observing silently until then.  "Any dizziness?  Pain?"

"Nosir. Not so's I'd complain."

"All right, Mr. Rossi," Sam said with a smile, "Ready to rock and roll?"

'Deo smiled crookedly, "Gonna dance holes in my shoes, so watch out."

Sam and Gary gently helped him to stand.  'Deo felt a little dizzy and weak but fought it off quickly.  Firm but gentle hands supported him.

Amadeo planted his feet firmly, enjoying the feel of the cold hard linoleum under them.

"Take a step when you're ready, start small," Sam encouraged.

The boy took one tentative step, then another.  His legs felt weak and a little wobbly but he was determined to keep going until he couldn't go any more.

He took another step, and another, gaining confidence as he walked, supporting himself less and less on the two men as he went along.  He got to the wall, tried to turn and lost his balance.  Gary and Sam were right there to catch and support him.

"All right, 'Deo?" Sam asked, concerned.

"Havin' a blast," he smiled.

"Let's get you back to the bed now.  I think you've done enough for the moment," Gary said, preparing to link hands with Sam to create a chair for 'Deo to sit on.

"No!" he protested.  "Sorry," he said, sheepishly as he saw the raised eyebrows on the three men.  "I c'n do this.  Jus' need t' turn 'round. Please?  I c'n do it," he said pleadingly.

Sam, Gary and Mendoza shot each other glances and gave each other the 'let's go for it' look.  Sam and Gary slowly helped Amadeo turn around.  'Deo took a deep breath and walked with only a little assistance back to his bed.  The men helped him get back in and covered him up, only to remove the blankets a moment later to begin to massage his arms and legs once again as they were shaking from the effort. Dr. Mendoza would normally have called in one of the LPN's to fetch another wash cloth but he did it himself, wet it and brought it back to wipe 'Deo's face.

"Doc? C'n we take the ban'ge'ges off?  M' head's a little itchy."

"Yes, we can take them off now, you're due to have your hair washed anyway.  But you have to promise me not to scratch.  You're all but healed but you may still be a bit tender, and we don't want you to open the wounds again accidentally."

"Yessir.  Promise."

Dr. Mendoza gave Amadeo a look that plainly said, 'We'll see about that.'  He pressed the button on the wall beside Amadeo's bed and called Mrs. Hollings, requesting her presence.  As soon as she arrived he asked her to fetch a clean wash cloth, refill the basin with warm soapy water and be ready for when the bandages came off.

When she'd done as asked, he reached into the pocket of his long white coat and pulled out a pair of scissors with blunt tips.  He snipped the part of the bandage that went under the boy's chin, then carefully cut a notch near his ear and cut in a straight line across the top of the boy's head before stopping near the other ear.  He gently peeled the bandages off just in case any of the wounds had opened and bled and were stuck.  They came off without a problem.  

Amadeo immediately reached up to scratch until he heard Dr. Mendoza clear his throat meaningfully.  Amadeo blushed, abashed, and put his hands back down.  Mrs. Hollings approached, and with a very soft touch, began to wash the boy's scalp and hair.  He leaned into the slight pressure, reminding Dr. Mendoza of his beagle puppy when his ears were scratched.  Amadeo reached up again and stopped when he saw the doctor's expression. " 'm not gonna scatch, sir, just want t' feel it."

Dr. Mendoza nodded and Amadeo felt his hair.  He'd seen pictures of hedgehogs, and had never touched one, but he had the impression that if he could, the two would feel identical.  He wondered idly what a hedgehog sounded like.

"Mirror?  Please?"

Mendoza nodded at Mrs. Hollings who once again fetched the mirror from the bedside table, while Sam retrieved the one from the empty bedside table as well.  Sam held one mirror in front while Mrs. Hollings held one behind his head so that he could see the back, much as the barber did when he went for a trim.

Amadeo had never thought of himself as a Ken doll, but he had been fond of his hair, and he worried that he'd have large empty patches where the scalp had been drilled and the hair had been shaved.  There was only a fine growth of hair but it was the same dark black, and the scars were nearly unnoticeable.  The hair was more sparse around them, with nothing at all sprouting from the three dime sized areas which were even whiter than the rest of his scalp.  But the rest of it was growing and he knew soon no one would be able to see them at all.

"C'n we... can we leave the ban'ge... bandages... off, please?"

"I think we can do that, as long as you keep your word and don't scratch.  Deal?" Dr. Mendoza said.

"Outta sight," 'Deo replied, approvingly.

Sam and Gary laughed and clapped him on the back.  Mrs. Hollings put a warm hand on his arm above the cast and squeezed gently.  Dr. Mendoza smiled and patted the boy's shoulder.  

Amadeo's stomach growled.  He hadn't felt hungry up till that point but suddenly he thought he could manage a nice lean steak and a baked potato, maybe some corn to go with it.  His mouth watered.

Mendoza grinned.  "Mrs. Hollings, we can remove the IV now.  Mr. Rossi here can start with a liquid diet for the next few days.  Please have dietary send up a tray to tide him over until dinner, please."

Liquid diet?!  What on earth was a liquid diet?  "Ummm, my teeth are all there, sir.  I'm sure I'd be able to chew just fine."

Mendoza tried not to laugh.  At the boy's inquiring look, Mendoza explained, "You haven't had solid food for three weeks.  We need to get your body used to food a little at a time, same as we did with the walking, understand?"

The boy sighed.  "Yes sir," he replied as his stomach growled again.  

" 'K 'Deo, we'll leave you to your lunch and your visitors.  We'll see you tomorrow and do more exercises, all right?"  Gary asked.

"Sounds like a plan," 'Deo smiled.

Dr. Mendoza, Mrs. Hollings, Sam and Gary all left the room and Amadeo settled back against the pillows and cautiously leaned his head back.  He had no idea what could cause the wounds to reopen besides scratching but he was determined not to do it.


He'd nearly fallen asleep when his parents and Milo came back into the room, followed by all of his brothers and sisters.

" 'Deo you son of a gun!" his brother Dante bellowed, leaning down to give his youngest brother a hug.  "Lookin' good!"  Then he gave a little yelp as his mother 'Natie' gave him a hearty swat to the seat of his jeans.  "Ow, ma!" he protested.

"If she hadn't I would have." his wife Beth Ann said sternly.  "We are in a hospital," she said pointedly.

"And we've only been allowed to come in all at once because we promised to keep the noise down," his sister Rene added.  "If we end up being asked to leave I'll smack you myself, got it?" she hissed.

"OK!  OK!" he said in a much quieter voice.  "Take it easy!" he replied as he turned to get his hindquarters out of reach.

His sister Terri leaned down and kissed the top of his head.  "How are you, sweetie?  It's so good to see those big brown eyes open again."  Her boyfriend, Connor smiled and took 'Deo's casted hand in both of his.  "Good to see you, buddy."

One by one they all approached him and shook his hand or kissed him, some doing both.  All had grins a mile wide on their faces.

"You ate it but good, didn't you, nimrod?" asked his seventeen year old brother Con, grinning wider as his mother delivered a somewhat harder swat to his backside for being insensitive.  "Ow, ma.  He knows I'm joking, right Dae?  Dae, me say Dae, me say Dae, me say Dae-o!" he sang.

"Someone knock me out again, please?" 'Deo pleaded.

"Awww, come on little brother... gimme some sugar!" Con said as though speaking to a baby, puckering his lips and making loud smooching noises.

"I'll give you sugar!" his mother said giving him a smack on the rear that made him bolt upright and cover his behind with a scowl.  "Now behave yourself!  Non farmi andare a casa e il cucchiaio di legno!"  (Don't make me go home and get the wooden spoon!)

Con glanced at his father, and seeing the expression there, respectfully said "Mi dispiace, mamma."  (I'm sorry, mom.)

Amadeo grinned at his brother's discomfort and laid there trying to get the Banana Boat Song out of his head, when he realized then that he had no idea what day it was and asked.  An employee from dietary slipped in, placed a tray in front of Amadeo and slipped out before anyone realized she'd been there.

"It's May 9th.  It's Saturday," his mother replied.

"Where're the kids?" he asked, turning his attention toward his sisters, Gia and Rene, and their husbands.  He was unaware of it when his mother uncovered the bowl of chicken broth and began to feed him some, little by little.

"Kevin and Keith are with my folks." Giovana's husband, Daniel replied.  They had four year old identical twin boys who were so alike that even their parents had a hard time telling them apart, and the boys took great pleasure in pretending to be each other just to confuse everyone.

"Michael is with Alex's Aunt Delphina," said Rene, referring to their two year old son.

"And unfortunately I have to get back to the base by tonight, so I won't be able to stay as long as I'd like."  Alejandro said regretfully.  He was a Gunnery Sergeant who had been temporarily stationed at the Marine Corps Supply Center in Albany, a two hour drive away, when he'd gotten word of Amadeo's injuries.  He gave Amadeo an approving look.  "Do you remember anything about the fight, Dae?"

Amadeo thought about it for a few moments.  "I remember bits and pieces, but... some things are kinda fuzzy. Doc says that's normal though."  His mother offered him a glass of ginger ale, placing the straw in her son's mouth so that he could take a sip.

"Heard it turned into a mess and a half.  Mom was madder'n a wet hen!  Pitched a major conniption fit when Cobrane called."  Con said enthusiastically.  It was his father's turn to smack his son's backside.  Constantin frowned and casually made his way to the other side of the bed.

"But we also heard that you were very heroic," his brother Gabriel interjected.  "You went in when no one else would, and you put up a good fight.  You used your head."

"Tough as nails and twice as sharp," Milo said, proudly.

Alejandro patted his youngest brother in law on the shoulder.  "I heard that you fought like a lion.  I heard that you took on two boys who were older and bigger than you and that you did some damage to them before they overpowered you."  They'd been asked to encourage him to remember whenever possible.

Amadeo frowned, flashes of memory came and went. "Yeah," he said, distractedly, "Yeah, I remember a little.  I used some of those hand to hand combat moves you showed me."  He looked up at his brother in law.  "I remembered what you said about potentially lethal moves.  I didn't use them," he reassured, then he frowned, "Should I have?"  He opened his mouth for a spoon full of gelatin and grimaced at the taste, and blushed furiously when he realized that his mother had been feeding him the whole time.

"No, 'Deo, absolutely not.  You did exactly what you needed to do.  The last thing you needed was a murder charge leveled against you," Alex reassured his brother in law.  "But when you're better, we *are* going to go over tactics that are useful when faced with multiple opponents.  OK?"

The boy tried not to but he yawned widely before nodding at his brother in law.  "Gotcha, boss," he said sleepily.

"I think we'd better leave for now, everyone," Natie said quietly.

"No, ma, I'm fine," Amadeo said through another yawn.

"You go to sleep now.  We'll be back later, il mio piccolo amore," (My little love.) she said quietly.

The family bent to kiss and hug him goodbye.

"Milo, can we give you a ride home?"  Mr. Rossi asked.

"No sir, thank you. I'd just like to stay with 'Deo for a minute more.  I'll walk home afterward.  Thank you for the offer though."

'Johnny' Rossi made an 'as you wish' gesture and filed out behind his children and wife.

"Dae?  'Deo?"

"Yuh, Milo.  S'up?" Amadeo answered, fighting to keep his eyes open.

"Got lots t' tell you.  I'll be back tomorrow first thing in the morning, 'k?"

"Yuh. 'K."

"Deo?"

"Wha'?" he asked, slightly annoyed that his friend wouldn't let him sleep.

"I need t' know... how'd you know that Angelo was in the bed next to yours?" Milo had tried to speak to Angelo, other students had stopped in to see him, but the privacy screen had always been closed and the other boy had always appeared to be asleep when his parents and brothers weren't visiting him.

"I cou' hear 'im.  He'd talk t' me," 'Deo mumbled.  "Can't remember what he said, 'zactly, but I could hear 'im.  Coulda sworn he was readin' L'il Prince t' me."

With that, Amadeo drifted off to sleep.




AN

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Reference to: Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
By:               Harry Belafonte  from the album Calypso
Released:    1956
Label:           RCA Victor

No copyright infringement intended



Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany:  By early 1954, the station was sufficiently complete with warehouses and administration buildings to assume supply support for 

Marines east of the Rocky Mountains and in the Atlantic area. On July 29, 1954, the command was renamed the Marine Corps Supply Center Albany. The MCSC managed and controlled supplies at storage and issue locations in the eastern half of the United States, the Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea areas. Depot level rebuild operations began to function at the base in October 1954.
   
The base opened in 1954, as the Marine Corps Depot of Supplies. In 1959, renamed the Marine Corps Supply Center, it was assigned the mission of rebuilding nonaviation equipment.


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