Chapter 10: Saturday’s Helper
Saturdays had become pretty routine; Joey woke up, put on old clothes, and headed to the bus stop before 9:00 a.m. He always greeted his fellow riders as they arrived. He chatted with them as they rode to the hospital.
Joey loved going to the center. He had gained the trust of several of the kids. He learned the knack of finger painting and creating cereal art. The group of volunteers had increased to seven. Joey was no longer the new guy, but rather viewed as the veteran pro. He’d even gotten permission to begin a small acting group. Kids loved acting out scenes from their favorite movies or pretending to be circus or farm animals. Joey always left the center feeling better than when he arrived. He still couldn’t figure out why Amarea hated this place so much.
“Morning, Joey,” Mrs. W. greeted him as he walked into the center.
“Morning, Mrs. W.” he replied.
“Joey,” she began, “I was wondering if you would be willing to come in after school on Wednesdays?”
“I don’t think that would be a problem,” Joey said.
“Wonderful,” she replied. “Daniel has finished his hours, and soccer season has started, so we are shorthanded.”
“I’d be happy to help,” Joey admitted.
“Wonderful,” she replied again, giving Joey a quick hug. “Jerilynn is here this morning.”
Joey had several “favorites.” Jerilynn was a bright little girl recovering from a broken hip. She had been in a car accident. Her mother dropped her off before her physical therapy sessions at the hospital. Jerilynn always had a way of stating the obvious and defending what she believed was right. More than one argument arose from the “correct” way to finger paint.
The funniest situation by far was the pumpkin another child had created. Jerilynn was convinced it was a carrot that needed to go on a diet. She went on and on about the correct foods to eat. She went so far as to say that at her house they took the skin off the chicken before they ate it. Poor Basil, the chubby little guy never had a chance! Every piece of artwork from then on was an overweight thing that needed a healthier diet. It wasn’t Basil’s fault he was so plump. Several rounds of harsh steroids caused havoc within his body. Joey hated to do it, but he had Jerilynn placed in another group. Every Saturday she managed to bring in some sort of healthy snack and leave it for Basil. Today, she was dressed as broccoli. She was wearing green tights and a green shirt under a rather large head and stalk of broccoli.
“Joey,” Jerilynn exclaimed, throwing an arm around his neck, the head of broccoli poked him in the eye.
“Morning, Jerilynn,” Joey replied hugging her back. “What do you have there?”
“A cupcake,” she said proudly.
“A cupcake?” Joey questioned, knowing something was not right about Jerilynn bringing a cupcake to the center.
“Yup,” she replied. “I brought Basil a cupcake.”
“Really?” he asked. “That’s rather nice of you.”
“It’s an organic bran and banana muffin with low fat cream cheese frosting,” she said proudly.
Joey laughed, “Sounds yummy,”
“Would you like me to bring you one next week?” she asked.
“No, that’s ok,” Joey said, “Don’t go to any trouble for me! I’m sure Basil will love the cupcake.”
“He loves all my treats,” she replied.
Joey laughed again. He was grateful she never saw the garbage can after the center closed for the day! More than once, her “treat” was discarded. Poor Basil, Joey thought.
Who’s Basil? Amarea asked.
Mar? Joey called out.
Who else? Amarea laughed.
Where are you? Joey asked.
Upstairs, getting some blood work done, Amarea replied.
Cool, you want to come and meet the kids? Joey asked. Jerilynn is dressed up as broccoli.
Getting blood sucked out of me is not cool, Amarea said dryly.
That’s not what I meant, Joey said apologetically.
No, Amarea said flatly.
No what? Joey asked.
No, I don’t want to come meet the kids, Amarea replied.
Why? Joey asked.
The reality of it, Joseph, Amarea sighed.
What reality? Joey asked, totally confused.
How many of those kids aren’t going to make it? Amarea asked.
What are you talking about? Joey replied, still confused.
How many of those kids are going to die from whatever disease or illness they have? Amarea clarified.
I don’t know, Joey admitted. I don’t think about that stuff.
Maybe you should, Amarea said stiffly. Gotta run, they’re done sucking my blood.
Ok, talk to you later, Joey replied.
Sure, Amarea said.
Amarea’s conversation left Joey slightly shaken. Another one of his “favorites” was Samuel. Samuel was amazing. He was eight, but looked like he was five or six. Samuel had been battling cancer for several years. Joey wondered if he was going to make it. The thought brought tears to his eyes.
Though Samuel only came to the center twice a month, Joey was always thrilled to see him. It was actually Samuel’s idea to start the acting group. Samuel was a writer. He was an amazing writer for an eight year old. He would have been an amazing writer for an 18 year old. Samuel had written a play for his class at church. He was working on a play for the center. He spent so much time studying each of the kids, trying to determine which role would be best for them.
Joey was concerned when Samuel hadn’t made an appearance at the center. He asked Mrs. W. about it. She didn’t have any answers. She was sure, however, that he would be back next week. Joey thought about what Amarea had said, he hoped Samuel would make it. He hoped he would beat cancer and become a famous Broadway writer.