After the doctor prepared the syringe with the sedative he turned to Wade who was sitting up on the examination table. “This might sting a little.” Luke looked at the doctor as if he were nuts and pretty much said as much. “Are you serious? You think a little prick from a needle is going to bother any of us, after everything we’ve been through? Just give him the shot.” The doctor glanced over at Luke. “Well he might not remember what a shot is Luke, and I didn’t want him to be afraid.”
Jarrel smiled and put a hand on Luke’s shoulder to try to ease the rising tension in the room, but Luke angrily shrugged his hand off and moved away. Jarrel frowned. “I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” Luke shook his head. “No. I don’t like being grabbed or touched.” Jarrel nodded. “Okay, I won’t. I just thought it would help calm you down a little. You’re very angry…”
Luke glared at Jarrel. “Angry? Damn, right I’m angry. Been angry for the last five years to the point of wanting to kill that bastard.” Jarrel nodded his understanding. “Well, we can talk about your anger after you get cleaned up and some rest.” Luke continued to glare at Jarrel. “What’s there to talk about? I don’t want to talk about any of that shit. I just want to forget it all happened. So just stop talking about it and stop touching me. Just take care of Wade.”
Wade was already starting to feel the effects of the shot which the doctor had given him as Luke and Jarrel were arguing, and Luke noticing commented, changing the subject. “After he’s done. I’ll let you examine me and clean my wounds, but you aren’t sedating me. I’m staying awake. I don’t care if it hurts. I’m used to pain, but I’m not going to leave my brothers vulnerable. I’m going to watch over them until they wake up. Then I’ll sleep. Mike said this was the best place to come to because we had no other alternatives but I don’t trust any of you mother fuckers. I don’t hardly remember you all, and even if you are kin, so was Uncle Lloyd, and look what he did to us. I also remember daddy knocking us around too. So, don’t stand there and tell me you aren’t going to hurt us or let anyone hurt us because I don’t believe you, and if any of you does try to hurt us, I’ll kill you. I don’t care if I get sent to prison.”
Buford put up his hands in an attempt to calm Luke down. “Now, now. Let’s not talk about killing anyone, Luke. I get that you don’t have any trust toward any of us, and that’s completely understandable after what you’ve been through; whatever you’ve been through. But let’s not get worked up to where someone’s going to get hurt. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll check on Mike, and you can see that he’s just fine and sleeping. Jarrel won’t let anything bad happen to Wade while we’re in the other room and you can come right back again. I just think that maybe your mind will be a bit more at ease if you see that Mike is fine. Plus, the Doc needs some room to work in here.”
Luke shook his head. “Uh uh, I’ll check on Mike after. I’m staying with Wade to see what the doctor’s doing to him.” The Doc cut in. “I’m going to have to do a genital and rectal exam on him, Luke; just so you know. I also need to do a rape test. I did one on Mike when I saw evidence of sexual abuse. I just don’t want you to freak out if you see me touching Wade down there.”
Luke’s scowl deepened. “You don’t need to check. Uncle Lloyd did that to all of us, regular. So, save yourself the trouble…” The doctor cut in. “Regardless, I need to examine him. He might need stitching. You may not like it, but it needs to be done, Luke. This is what I do. I’m a doctor and it’s my job to ensure that you, boys are thoroughly examined and that your injuries are properly taken care of. All of them. And I need to do the rape test if rape is suspected. I am required by law, or I could lose my doctor’s license. Wade won’t feel it or even be aware of it, because he’s out cold now. I was just letting you know so you don’t freak out when you see me doing it, and so you understand why I am doing it. That’s why Jarrel and Buford are here to witness that it is just an examination and nothing more on my part. Do you understand?”
Luke continued to scowl, which was becoming apparent was his normal expression. “Well, you aren’t sticking nothing up my ass. I tell you that right now. You can clean my cuts, but you touch my dick or balls or get anywhere near my asshole and you’re not going to like it. Do you understand?”
The doctor sighed. “I would have preferred you to cooperate, Luke but the facts are that I need to ensure that you are healed, whether you like it or not. So, you are going to be sedated like your brothers and all your injuries attended to, including any genital or rectal injuries. I understand your anger and your fear, but this is not negotiable. Now I would prefer to sedate you voluntarily on your part, but if I have to have you held down to do it, I will. Now enough of the threats. I don’t want this to be a standoff or a threatening match. Please relax, and as hard as it might be for you to do, trust that no one here is going to hurt you. All we can do is offer our assurances of that, and when you wake up later, you will see that it is true.”
“And if we wake up to find otherwise?” The doctor held Luke’s eye. “Then I guess there isn’t much you can do about it, Luke. The facts are you are ten years old and you are surrounded by adults. If we intended on hurting you there really isn’t too much you could do to stop us but we aren’t intending to. I’m sorry that your Uncle Lloyd hurt you. I really am, and I know that your father has a drinking problem and is heavy handed with you boys, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is a threat to you here. I know you remember enough of this town and the people in it to know that most of us never caused any of you boys any harm, physical or otherwise. So, you need to put your anger aside and realize that you are not with your Uncle Lloyd anymore. You are in a safe place, or at least as safe as safe can really be in life.”
Luke continued to scowl and argue with the doctor. “I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. I don’t want to be put to sleep. I don’t care if it hurts to clean my wounds. I’ll take the pain. I’d rather take the pain than go to sleep where anyone can do anything to me and my brothers without us knowing or having a chance to fight back. Maybe you won’t hurt me, maybe you will. Just because you say you won’t doesn’t mean that it’s true. If you try to force me I’ll fight back with everything I got. Maybe I’ll win, maybe I won’t, but I’ll fight tooth and nail…”
Jarrel interjected, speaking in a calming tone. “Luke, you trusted me at the table earlier when you shared what happened to you…” Luke interjected, anger in his voice. “Yeah, and you broke that trust by telling everyone what I told you. Didn’t you?” Jarrel frowned. “I only told the Doc, and I told him it was confidential, but he felt that the sheriff and Mr. Aberly might be in danger if they didn’t know what they were walking into. They were already heading that way. They are using dogs to track your scent backward and would have come to Lloyd’s place eventually. I didn’t mean to betray your trust. Won’t you give me another chance? I promise that I will personally watch over you and your brothers while you’re sleeping and I won’t let anyone cause any harm to you…”
Luke interrupted again, “What are you going to do to stop them if they try? You’re barely bigger than Mike. I’ve never seen such a short adult before and I heard them talking and saying you’re crazy. Are you crazy?” Jarrel sighed. “Well I have been classified as insane, but crazy or not, my promise holds and I am quite capable of defending you. I know martial arts–tai chi. I’m a master of it. I’ve always been tiny for my age and was bullied when I was younger so my father insisted that I learn to defend myself and that’s the Kung Fu style that I chose.”
Luke assessed Jarrel. “Really? You ain’t making that shit up? Show me some of your Kung Fu. Fight the deputy and maybe then I’ll believe you and trust you if you can kick his ass.”
Jarrel smiled a little. “Tai chi isn’t about kicking anyone’s, uh ass… It’s about self-defense. I said I can defend you. I never said I would be kicking people’s asses.” Luke looked over at the deputy then back at Jarrel, then back at the deputy addressing him. “Attack me and let me see if Jarrel can defend me…” Buford raised an eyebrow. “Son, I don’t want to attack you…”
“ATTACK ME! SO, I CAN SEE!” Luke suddenly shouted. “I don’t trust any of you mother fuckers and unless you give me a reason to trust you, you’re going to have a fight on your hands one way or another.”
Jarrel gave Buford a subtle nod to comply when Buford looked over at Jarrel with concern that Luke might be mentally unstable, as Jarrel was a child psychiatrist, or at least had been. Buford looked to the Doc who shrugged. “If it’s the only way to gain his trust then I don’t see the harm Buford, but better do it for real, so he knows no one is pulling any punches.” Buford blew out a deep breath then took a sudden lunge toward Luke swinging his arm fast and hard aiming for the side of his head, hoping that Jarrel really did know martial arts and would be able to block the blow. But he figured if nothing else, the blow would likely knock Luke unconscious and then the Doc could give him the sedative without a fight. It wouldn’t do much for Luke trusting or liking him in the future, but right now it was more important to get the boys healed up than to worry about making friends.
Buford suddenly found himself lying on the floor on his back–his blow never having struck his target–to Luke’s surprise as well as Buford’s and the Doc’s, as none had ever seen Jarrel perform his martial arts in practice, outside seeing him perform a tai chi form on the Green in the early morning, Jarrel was standing over him grinning.
“Wow!” Luke said. “That was so cool!” Jarrel grinned at Luke. “I can teach you, boys, if you want. I’m proficient to where I can teach others.” Luke’s eyes widened. “Really? Seriously. You’d teach me?” Jarrel nodded. “Of course. I just said I would. Now, will you trust me to watch over you boys while you sleep? I promise no one will hurt you.”
Luke frowned a little. “What if more than one person tries or the deputy uses his gun? What then?” Jarrel continued to smile, though not with the full out grin anymore. “I have been trained to fight multiple opponents and to disarm weapons, including guns. I had someone try to mug me at gunpoint once and was successful in disarming him. Of course, at a far distance, I can’t stop bullets, but I really don’t think you are at risk of anyone coming in here with a gun, Luke. Let your fears go, just for a little while, and let the doctor help you. Alright?” Luke sighed. “Okay, but I’m staying awake until the Doc’s done with Wade. Just to be sure. Then he can give me my shot, but not until I know he ain’t doing nothing bad to Wade.” Jarrel nodded his understanding, as did the doctor.