Brothers

Wrapped in a blanket, sweating, staring blankly into space is how I first saw him. A different version of him stood close by, watching everything I did. I felt the boy in the blanket’s forehead, the older boy stiffened and inched closer.

“He’s burning up.”

“103 degrees,”  said his mom, who scurried about the apartment throwing personal things into a big bag. The older boy must have decided I wasn’t a major  threat, sat next to his brother and stood guard.

“Is he developmentally disabled?” I asked, impressing myself with my delicate wording of the handicapped kid’s condition.

“Developmentally delayed,” said Mom, arching her eyebrow at my obvious lack of understanding.

Mom picked up her five year old and marched down the stairs toward the rescue, the seven year old followed me and Brian. Another boy, much older stayed home.

Inside the rescue, after the vital signs had been taken, the names and dates of birth, medications, allergies and past medical condition recorded we settled in for the ride. The seven year old took a second from doting on his brother, looked me in the eye and said,

“Emergency. E-m-e-r-g-e-n-c-y.”

“Not bad,” I said. His mother smiled.

“System. S-y-s-t-e-m.”

Mom shook her head and rolled her eyes, I was impressed.

“Medtronic. M-e-d-t-r-o-n-i-c.”

I looked over my shoulder and and saw Medtronic Emergency Systems written on the back wall, behind the monitor.

“Robert” laughed like  he had never laughed before, delighted that he had tricked me. Mom smiled knowingly, and “Steven” lay in the stretcher, unaware.

I pulled one out of my hat.

“Spell Vacuum.” No chance I figured. That word got every kid in my sixth grade spelling bee, no way a first grader would get it.

Robert smiled, looked at the floor of the rescue, concentrated then said,

“V-a-c-u-u-m.”

“Wow.”

Robert forgot our game, and focused on his brother. His proud mom told me he was gifted. She has him signed up for some program for gifted children at John Hopkins University in Maryland. He’s going to be a doctor.

And fix his brother.

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