“I think they’ve got a little bromance going on.” Chandler said, once they were out of earshot. Latimer smiled at him. “It just shows you the damage that can be done when no-one listens to you.” He pondered, sounding sad.
“And what damage can be undone when your voice is finally heard.” He agreed, patting his shoulder softly.
Chandler sighed and leaned into him again. “Dad,”
Latimer hummed in reply.
“Do you think he’ll be okay? I mean, that guy locked him in a basement without anything to eat or drink for six days and he never told anyone. That woman hit him and tried to blind him. It makes me wonder what else happened to him.” He explained his worry quietly.
Latimer couldn’t help but agree. He wrapped his arms around him and thought about that concern for a moment. It was something he also worried about. “Yes, I see what you mean. But he seems to trust Dominic, so I think if there was anything else he would tell him.” He hoped so, at least. He would make sure to have a word with Rocco in private, once they had a method of communication, to make sure he understood that he had nothing to be afraid of. He could tell them anything and no-one would be angry with him.
He guided Chandler out of the games room and into the main foyer to wait for the boys. There was a window seat just inside the door so he sat them down, still holding him close, as they talked over the matter.
“We’ll have to learn sign language now.” Chandler said, stating a fact rather than asking a question. He was right, of course. It was something they had to do; it wasn’t an option. They needed to show Rocco that they were willing to adapt to his needs and put in an effort to communicate with him. Even Dominic would need some extra lessons to brush up his skills.
“Yes. But I also think Dominic’s theory is right. I’m not sure Rocco has been taught how to speak or else he’s chosen to shut off those abilities because of trauma.” He confessed, thoughtfully.
“Do you think he’ll have to be home schooled?” Chandler wondered.
“I’m not sure of that yet. I’m not entirely sure that high school would be a good environment for him, either.” He sighed, recalling how badly Dominic had reacted to high school when he attempted to send him there when he was twelve. He’d ended up having him home schooled, which meant that a year later Chandler had wanted the same thing. With Beau sick at the time it had given them some quality time together before their family was broken with grief. After that, both boys had been too afraid to lose him, to make a second attempt at a regular school.
“Who knows, he might start dating soon.” Chandler teased him.
Latimer groaned in complaint, leaning his forehead on his son’s shoulder. That was the last thing he needed. Dealing with teenagers was one thing, but trying to raise three teenage boys who were of dating age was going to be an absolute nightmare.
“And this is why I hoped to get a child. A small child who was nowhere near dating age.” He teased him in return, both of them laughing as he gave him a nudge. He was about to say more when Miss Phu walked past with a smile and bobbed her head at them. “Ah, Miss Phu. Might I just say that I’ve never seen a nicer orphanage. It looks so much like a real home.” He complimented her on how well she had taken care of the children in her orphanage.
Already he had spotted nearly three people in their early twenties, sporting t-shirts that labelled them as ‘assistants’. She blushed at his words, but he meant them wholeheartedly. Although he was appalled by the way Rocco had been treated, he couldn’t entirely blame that on the orphanage. It was also social services fault and that of the potential parents who had treated him so dismally.
“Thank you, Mister Peabody. My mother always taught me that a house was only a home with children in it. So I thought it just right that a house full of children should be a real home.” She claimed, making him smile.
“And we are all very grateful for that thoughtfulness.” He promised.
Chandler chuckled as he pulled out his cheque book from his inside jacket pocket and started writing.
Latimer didn’t care that he was being predictable or that his own son was laughing at him. The orphanage was doing a fine job, independently financed by a wealthy family. But he knew of at least three others in Portland, whose children attended the community centre, who were government financed.
Most of them were poorly kept, suffering damp, rot and a lack of educational supplies that denied the children there of basic necessities. It wasn’t the fault of the owners or the people who ran the facilities either, just a general lack of money being diverted to the orphanages through the government channels. Those were the ones who needed his money most.
Latimer wrote four identical cheques, each with a ten thousand dollar donation. Then he tucked them back into his cheque book so he could deposit them later.
Chandler hugged his arm and leaned on him with a sigh. “You’re doing a great thing, dad. We’re going to keep him safe and give him a real home. Somewhere he can be happy and feel loved. He won’t ever have to be scared or alone again.” He said, a light tone in his voice that said he was tired but happy.
Latimer smiled to himself and gently rubbed his arm. He’d been up late the night before, on the phone to an old friend from his orphanage, who lived overseas. He couldn’t be mad though; the loyalty and friendship of his old friend was priceless to them both. It was important that he never lose touch with his past or those who helped him grow into the young man he was.