Joe grumbled thinking about having his children this coming weekend. He had just come back from a vacation with his girlfriend, and he was exhausted. He would rather have this weekend off. A physician at a local hospital which served a rich clientele, Joe also was going to be working his butt off this week. However, the money was good, the prestige was good, and he was the head of his department: a world renown department. His thoughts wandered to his girlfriend. Now that was a woman. She treated him like a god. He liked it. It was worlds from how his ex-wife had become. She had stopped wanting sex with him. What was a man to do? The divorce was her fault. She should have just taken it and been a good wife. She could have definitely used some sex pointers from his girlfriend.
Likely everything began with Marge, his wife's too brainy ultra liberal sister. She was the one who convinced Jill to leave him. He knew it. Marge was a slut. Plus she had had an affair with a married man and broken up his marriage: no morals whatsoever. There were days he felt like he could have wrung Marge's neck. She was always telling his ex-wife to fight for full custody of the kids and to get much more money. No way he was going to let Jill have more money. What did she need it for? Marge had her going back to college. She should have just started working right away. Every penny he gave Jill, he felt go through his hands like fire. He liked impressing his girlfriend with expensive gifts and getaways. How could the kids constantly need more shoes? Probably Jill was spending it on herself. She definitely looked healthier than he had seen her in a long time: she was pampering herself. What a terrible mother! He would ask for full custody, except he rather liked the freedom he had. Kids were dampers, especially to wild sex escapades in the night.
Joe pulled into the hospital staff parking lot. His space was close up and had his name on it. He loved looking at it every time. As he walked to his office, a current case he had been briefed upon ran through his mind: it was a child- probably in his teens. It was hard to tell. He was burned over most of his body. Joe had had great success with another burn patient: the wife of a famous actor. Since then burn cases were sent his way constantly. But this one? As of yet no one knew the identity of the child. He had been found, an apparent victim of a gang attack. There was nothing to identify him on his body. And three days had gone by with no one reporting a child missing. However, in his possession was a book written in Spanish. Distaste salivated in Joes mouth: probably an illegal immigrant's child. Why had they brought him here? He should be at the community hospital. They did not have much of a burn center, but they took poor people and illegals all the time- probably why they were understaffed and always low on everything. Poor people had no insurance or money.
Joe put up his coat, changed into his hospital attire and headed for the burn room. The boy was kept in an induced coma. The pain would kill him. Joe walked in studying everything that had been done. It was good. If this was the kid of anyone with the money to live in this neighborhood, someone would have claimed him. This was just a drain on the finances of the hospital. Joe made a good show of putting on gloves before examining the kid. You never knew what type of diseases this kid had been exposed to. Another nurse came in.
"We need to know if the patient can survive being transferred to the community hospital and if the care there will be adequate to handle the intensity and extent of the patient's condition. Joe examined the boy again. Just a drain on the money here. If the boy were moved, he would likely not even survive the transfer. Reaching out for the clipboard, Joe signed the transfer approval.
"The care there will be adequate". Joe felt the eyes of the nurse on him. She was a new one, and he did not like her. He could sense her disapproval. She would soon learn questioning the doctors here would propel her into a quick state of joblessness.
Joe turned away. "I'll be in my office for an hour. I have a lot of patient catch-up reading to do." The nurse glared at Joe. Everyone in the hospital knew his girlfriend was in his office this time of day for some sex. She took the form with a heavy heart. Her instincts said the boy could not survive a transfer, and if she knew it, so did Joe. Who did this child belong to? Why had no one come forward? Even in this ritzy area, there were a few bad places to be at night. This boy had been at one of them. He would likely pay for the mistake with his life. The nurse could not believe no one was missing him. There must be a reason for it, she thought. The parents must not know the child is missing. A swab had been taken to test the child's DNA in case it was needed for identification. If the boy survived, he would have to go through years of plastic surgeries. He was badly damaged.
Later in the afternoon, Joe finally took time to call his ex-wife to arrange a time for her to drop off the kids. Jill sounded a little tired. "Aw too bad, bitch," Joe thought. "Should not have divorced me. You had it good then." Jill said she would bring Amanda to the hospital at 5 on Friday. Joe felt irritation rubbing his nerves. "You know, Mike, is my son too. He has to come." Mike was having a hard time accepting the divorce and blamed his dad. That was Jill's fault. She filled him with anger. If he could keep Mike longer, he would set him straight. Jill was oddly silent.
"I said, you have to send Mike, Jill." You baby him too much. He is to be there at 5:00 with Amanda." Joe felt irritation morphing into anger.
"But, Joe, Mike is with you! He spent the weekend with you! You were going to take him camping. He was so excited. You did not show, and we could not get hold of you. Mike took a taxi to the hospital."
"Oh for God's sake, Jill. I forgot! Mike is not with me. I have been in Mexico with Lana. I just got back this morning. Mike has to be with you!
"Joe, Mike has been gone since the taxi picked him up Friday. "
"You are stupid, Jill. Why would you send Mike here in a taxi? Why didn't you bring him!"
"My car was broken down, Joe. I had to wait for you to finally pay child support for the last couple of months to get it fixed." If Mike is not with you, where is he, Joe?"
Joe could feel the fear in her voice. Likely, she was crying. Where was Mike? A nurse was tapping on the door. It was the troublesome one. Joe bellowed with the stress of Mike's disappearance filling him, " Not now! My son has been missing for 3 days!" The words echoed in Joe's mind. Mike had been missing for 3 days. He flung open the door. "When did the John Doe child arrive in the hospital? The nurse stared at Joe, her face turning ashen.
"Friday early evening"
Joe felt his chest fluttering. "Jill, did Mike have a book in Spanish?"
Jill's voice was barely above a whisper. "Yes, he brought it to study. He is in Spanish this year. Why, Joe, do you know where Mike is?"
Joe stared at the nurse, urgency gripping his mind, "The John Doe. Is he still here?"
The nurse answered as tears filled her eyes once more. She had been in tears at the news to begin with. "No, Joe. He died in transport an hour ago."