Recovery of a Hero Ch. 04byRoadbug©
A Hero's New Purpose
This story is a work of fiction only. Any chance resemblance to actual people or events is purely accidental.
The first couple of weeks with Dar there were hectic. He was always polite and he seemed to be getting better with his periods of talking like a little boy, and he was very fun otherwise. He never argued or complained either.
All in all, he was what I would have wanted for a brother if I'd had a real one. Don't get me wrong, though, because I loved George. When he and Janny were dating, they'd often take Erica and me with them to restaurants and movies and such.
Dar, though, was different. He would often sit by himself reading one of Dad's old books or play with the computer. Sometimes he would sit by the kitchens glass door and just look outside. When it rained, I'd often find him outside just looking up into the sky and letting it fall on his face.
I finally asked him why he did that, and he said that the rain is what he missed most while he was in Iraq. He said he'd been there almost 2 years and it didn't rain much.
On the third week, I got a letter telling me that the summer tryouts for the Junior Cheer Leader Squad was on the following Monday. I really wanted to go, but I had promised Dar and his Aunt I would never leave him alone, and since the others were all busy during the day, it was mostly me that took care of him.
I asked Erica if she could watch him that day, and she said no because she had a big test. George and Janny were also busy. George was taking a few refresher classes for his job and Janny was going to be helping at the hospital she did volunteer work at.
I decided then that if Dar wanted to go, I would get a ride and take him with me or just stay home. He was much more important right now than being a cheer leader. He almost died so I could keep the nearest thing I ever had to a brother, so he came first.
That decided, I walked up to him and told him about the tryouts. He got excited and said, "You really want me to come too? Can I really go someplace with you?" That's when I realized that although he had more freedom here, he was still stuck unless someone took him somewhere.
I said, "If you want to. Afterwards, I'll see if a couple of friends of mine want to go to the mall and you can come there to. Dar got real excited at that thought. He was in one of his little boy fazes right then so I guess even going to the mall with a bunch of teenagers might have seemed exiting.
With that thought, I waited until George and Janny got home and told them what my plans were. They talked it over for a bit and said it was fine with them. George also said that he could drop me off if I wanted to go early, and would pick me up at the mall at about 6 that evening as he would be done with his classes and work by then.
I agreed, and went and told Dar that it was all set up and he could go with me to practice and that we'd go to the mall afterwards. He thanked me and then had me take him to his room where he dug out his wallet.
After getting it out, he had me take him to George, who was in the basement and was the only place that had a lift for the wheelchair After taking him down there, he asked me to let him talk to George for in private for a while. He said he and George had to take care of some 'business'.
I left him there and went back upstairs to call a few friends to see if they wanted to meet up with me after practice. I told them that Dar would be coming too as there wasn't anybody to watch him that day, and 2 said that they would be there.
With that done, I went back to see if Dar was done with George. They were talking at the desk George had set up in a corner, and when they saw me they just smiled and waved me over.
I walked over and asked Dar if he was done. He was grinning so hard I thought he was going to break his jaw, but he said yes, so I took him back up to the kitchen and made lunch. As the day went on, every time George and Dar saw each other they would get the smile again. It made me wonder what they were up to. The worst of it was that they were like that the whole weekend too!
On Monday at 10, George and I got Dar into the car and left for the high school. When we got there, I saw that there were a lot of girls my age there for the tryouts and I got nervous. Dar seeing that I was uncomfortable grabbed my hand and said, "You'll do fine. I have faith in my little friend, and she'll blow the rest away."
I felt a lot better after that, and said good bye to George as he pulled out. Dar waved a bit with his left hand, and started to drag himself to the field with his good leg. I caught him easily and pushed him over to where the tryouts were to be held that day.
As I got closer, I saw the 2 friends that were going to the mall with us later, and waved. They waved back and came over. Shelly, who had been my friend since we started grade school together came over and hugged me. I hadn't seen her since summer vacation started.
Sandra, also hugged me. She and I had become friends in last year, and the 3 of us had done lots of things together.
After the hugs, Shelly said, "So this it the man who swept you off your feet and kept you away from us the last few weeks. You didn't even call much."
"Yea," Sandra said, "No calls, and no visits. Just because you live like a hermit doesn't mean you should ignore your friends."
Dar got that sad look on his face as he listened and said, "It's my fault. She's been helping me since I can't walk yet and her sisters and her brother-in-law are busy. Without her I'd have to go back to the hospital."
Shelly saw right away that Dar was really unhappy. I'd told her about Dar and what was wrong with him, so she just smiled at him and said, "Oh it's all right. We were just teasing Sally because we haven't seen her in awhile. I know why she's been busy so it doesn't matter."
This caused Dar to start smiling again, and he told her, "Well I know a good way to fix that problem. I know Sally gets lonely being stuck with a broke down old man, so you 2 will just have to come over and help fix that sometime. I bet that I can talk George and Janny into it."
That statement surprised me a bit. Dar had always called Janny by her proper name. He never used Janny before where I could hear. Just goes to show that things change sometimes.
We talked some more as we walked over to the tryout area, with all of us pushing on the chair. Dar was heavy, and the chair didn't work well in the grass. The tires would sink in and it was hard to push.
By the time we got there, we had stopped talking and were just pushing. I told Dar that I was going to have to put him on a diet because he was getting heavy. Dar looked at me and said, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be a problem."
Bad mistake that time. I told Dar, "Oh come on, I was teasing. Can't friends tease each other?" Dar tends to take everything literally, and I had forgotten that.
Sandra said, "Don't worry about it Dar. We needed the exercise any way, and now we won't have to warm up so much." Shelly nodded too.
Dar started smiling again, and said, "I hope the tryouts start soon. I want to watch. I haven't been anywhere but the hospital and home in a long time now. I like watching things, but there isn't much I can see except out the kitchen door since it's glass."
Shelly said, "I bet you just want to watch the girls." Dar smiled and pointed across the field where some boys were playing football.
"Nah," he said. "I'll watch the football game. I like watching kids play football."
After that, we went over to the cheer squad director and got put on the list for the tryouts. I was toward the end of the tryouts, and Shelly was third up. Sandra was in the middle, so one of us would be with Dar the whole time so he wouldn't get lonely.
While we waited for Shelly, Sandra and I sat on the grass by Dar and watched the first 2. I didn't know either of them. Then it was Shelly's turn. Boy she was good. I guess those dance classes she took paid off. After her tryout, she came over and Sandra went to wait for her turn.
She talked to Dar while we watched, and I could see that he was enjoying the chance to talk with someone new. I bet he got tired of just a 1 teenager to talk to most of the time. I know I would get tired of just talking to me.
We all watched when it was Sandra's turn. She was almost as good as Shelly. I started worrying again, and wondered if the triple S team would be broken up now. With all the others here, and my 2 best friends being the best so far, I was really nervous.
Dar leaned over and whispered, "I know they look good, but I've watched you practice and swim. You'll do fine and better than fine. Just trust your self and don't worry about the others."
That really made me feel better, and Shelly said, "With all your gymnastics training I bet you have a better chance than me."
Coming from her that really meant something. She was the dancer, not me, but I had been taking gymnastics for over 3 years now. I had planned to do a modified tumbling routine for the tryout and was now glad because nobody else was doing any thing like that.
When Sandra got back to us, I said, "I know you 2 are on the team so wish me luck." I went up to the line and waited my turn. When the director told me to start, I did my routine. It suddenly seemed just fine. I didn't care what anyone thought, I was doing this because I liked to do it.
When I finished, I walked back over to the others. They were both staring at me. "What?" I asked.
Dar said, "That was fantastic. I bet you got the best score here. Nobody else did anything like that." The girls just nodded.
When the last girl was done, the director said, "Ok, girls, I know you all did a good job but we only have 5 openings for the junior team. In 3 or 4 days, you'll all get letters informing you of the results. Those that don't make it this year should try again next year as we'll have a lot more openings."
Ok, the girls shower is open for you so go clean up and have a good day."
We went up to the school gym and went inside. The director had followed us in and asked me to wait a second. When she came up she asked about Dar. I told her about how George had gotten wounded and how Dar had rescued him in Iraq. I also told her about the problem with the mediation he'd been given.
"Ok, go take your shower and come to my office. I have to work, but I'll keep an eye on him." Dar looked at her and said, "Won't that hurt? I know I wouldn't want to do that."
She looked at him and just said, "Huh?"
Dar smiled and said, "Gotcha." I figured out what he was talking about, and giggled. The director looked at both of us for a second then she got it too. She glared at Dar and said, "Oh great, now the cheer leaders have a mascot with a bad sense of humor. Just what I need...."
I couldn't help it, I just cracked up. As I was walking toward the shower room, the director pushed Dar toward an office off to the side.
I went in and took out my clean clothes, then went and found an empty shower stall. I took my shower and got dressed again, and went back out to the gym. The others were already there waiting by the directors office. I walked over to them and saw a sign that said 'Women's Sports' and below that a sign that said 'Coach Coulter'.
When I got there, the woman looked up at me and said, "Well I'm not normally supposed to tell you, but in this case I'll break the rule. All 3 of you made it, but before you celebrate, we need to talk about your friend."
"I don't want to be a problem for Sally to be on the team. If I'm a problem then I'll just have to stay home when Sally comes here. She wanted this so bad so I won't ruin her chance."
The coach smiled at Dar and said, "That won't be necessary. I really want all 3 of these girls. I get lots of talent every year, but only a very few with any real skills. This year I got 2 that know how to dance, and one that's a gymnast. So, what we have to work out is transportation."
"Normally, there's a late bus for the kids in the athletics programs, but in this case it won't work. Since Sally has to take care of you when her sisters and brother-in-law are busy, we need to set up a way to get you here on practice days and then back home."
"Don't worry about me," said Dar. "I don't want to be a problem."
"Now you listen to me," said the coach. "I had a grandfather who lost a leg at Normandy in World War 2. My father was a P.O.W. in Korea for a year. My oldest brother fought in Vietnam and I have a nephew in Iraq. They wouldn't forgive me if I cut you out like that."
"Now, the question isn't whether you can come or not, but how. Sally is on the team and that's final. You are welcome to the after school activities and you will come. That's also final. All we have to do is figure out how."
Shelly and Sandra said at the same time, "I'll ask my folks if they can help."
Dar looked at the coach and asked, "You really mean it? I can come too?"
"Yes, you can come." I remember how lonely my grandfather was when he got stuck in the hospital. I wouldn't wish that on anybody."
"Ok, so the first thing is to call all the parents of the girls on the squad. This is going to be a group effort and not just the 3 of you trying to work this out. Let me look into it and I'll call in a couple of days. I already have your numbers on you tryout applications so just wait a few days. Now go away and have some fun."
We were all excited about that. Not only did we make it onto the Cheer Leaders Squad, but the coach was going to help me with taking care of Dar so I could be on the team. Dar was the one thing I hadn't thought about at all, and now I didn't need to worry.
We went out to a bus stop down the street from the school to catch one going toward the mall. While we were waiting, we talked about the tryouts trying to figure out who the other 2 would be.
Shelly said, "I hope the twins made it. I knew them in middle school, and they're fun. I bet they'd be willing to help with Dar too!
Sandra said, "I don't know them. I don't think I knew anybody but you 2."
"Well, we'll just have to wait," said Dar. "I know who the best are though."
Sandra said "Oh? Which ones?"
"Yea," Shelly said, "Tell us."
"You 3 are," said Dar. "You're the best of the ones that were there today. Those twins were too, so they might be the others."
I asked, "You really think we're the best?"
"Yup," said Dar. "You're the best."
"Why do you think that?" asked Sandra asked.
"Because you 3 have real talent like the coach said, and you have some training too. You 2 have had dance training, and Sally does gymnastics. Most of the others had practiced, and some were good but none of the others had either dance or gymnastic training. That's what made the difference."
While we were talking, the twins we had been discussing walked up.
"You waiting for the bus too?" asked Shelly.
"Yea, we're going to the mall. We haven't been there in ages, and since we made some extra money last week end, we're going to do a bit of shopping."
"That's where we're going too said Dar. I haven't been out of the house or the hospital to go anywhere in months."
"I'm Nancy, and this is my cousin Ellen."
"Cousin?" exclaimed Shelly. "I thought you 2 were twins."
"Every body thinks that if they don't know us." said Ellen, "Our mothers were twins, and our dads our brothers. They got married at the same time, and we were born on the same day."
"Wow," said Sandra. "That's a real interesting coincidence." Twin cousins."
We all laughed at that. We talked for maybe 10 minutes before the bus came, and when we got on I helped Dar get his chair buckled in. The driver came back and checked the straps and off we went.
Today had been a good day so far. I got to see my 2 best friends and made 2 new ones. The girls coach was going to help me with Dar. Most important though, I had seen Dar smile more in the last couple hours then he had since I'd met him.
When we got to the mall and got off, Dar asked me to get him some coffee. He gave me some money that he'd had and said he just wanted a regular cup of coffee. I heard him chatting with the others while I went to a small stand that sold coffee.
When I got back, Shelly said "My turn to push for awhile. Since we're a team, we take turns."
I said, "Ok. Just be careful of bumps because Dar's balance is a bit off."
Shelly said, "Oh don't worry. I like George too, and he did rescue him. I just think that since we're friends, we should help too." Nancy and Ellen nodded and so did Sandra. Wow, I thought. My friends want to help with Dar too. Maybe I should have called them.
When I said this, Sandra said "Maybe you should have. I would have come over if I'd know why you weren't coming by. You and your sisters have been my friends for a long time, and I remember how often George would take you and me out." Sandra nodded at that.
"I'm sorry guys, but I didn't want you stuck with me at home all the time."
Shelly said, "Who said we'd be stuck? You have a great pool and the basement fun room. I'd love to be stuck like that."
"You have a pool?" asked Nancy.
"Yes, we have a pool. My dad had it put in about 5 years ago. After he and mom died, George, who's my brother-in-law, kept it up. We all like to swim and it's nice not to have to fight the crowds at the beach all the time although I like to go now and then."
"Cool," said Ellen. "We'll have to come over some time. Nancy and I like to swim too."
Dar looked at me and said, "Hey, how bout a party? I like parties and that would be real fun. Then you could have some of your friends over and have fun. You don't need to push me around all the time. You need to have some fun too."
Then Dar said, "Oh look. A lectronic shop. Can we go in and look?"
I looked at where he was pointing and saw a new computer store. "Sure," I said. "Lets go there first." The others agreed.
Then Shelly said, "Hey Sally, look at that shop. It has some cool music cd's. Lets go there for a second."
I said, "I need to stay with Dar."
"Aw go look at that stuff, Sally. You don't need to look at everything I want to look at. I just haven't had a chance to see any of the newest stuff so I want to look for a bit is all. Sandra won't loose me, will you Sandra?"
She laughed and said, "Now how would I loose a lump like you? Go ahead Sally, I'll take care of Dar."
I said "Ok."
I didn't want to leave Dar alone, but I trusted Sandra, so Shelly and I went over to look at the newest cd's.
We were there for about 10 minutes, and Shelly bought 2. I didn't see anything I really wanted, and I didn't have much money with me. Just enough for lunch for Dar and me.
When we got back to the computer store, Dar was coming out with Sandra and was smiling again. I really think this is the happiest he'd been since he got out of the hospital and came home with us. I decided to do this more often just because of that.
Dar said, "I'm hungry now, how bout the rest of you?" We all agreed that we were hungry, so Dar said, I have my bank card, and I have plenty enough in the bank so I can feed you all. My treat for you giving me such a great day.
The others said that he didn't have to do that, but Dar insisted. "I don't get to go out much, and I haven't spent any of the money I made in Iraq. I also get a pension now so I have enough but nothing to buy. I want to do this. How often does a guy my age get 5 pretty girls to go to lunch with him at once anyway?"
We all laughed at that and agreed. "Ok, now where is a good place to eat?" Dar asked.
"Godfathers" we all said at the same time.
Dar laughed and said, "Pizza. Ok, I like pizza so lets go."
We all went down the mall to the pizza place and went in. When we got up to the counter, Dar asked if they took Debit cards. They said yes, so he said he wanted 5 all you can eat lunches and a small Supreme for himself with a large coke.