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The Talon House

What's The Difference Between Me and You?


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What's the difference between me and you?

Chapter 7 - by Nick

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"Nick? Dad?" the voice said after the answering machine began recording. "Somebody pick the phone up."

Nick searched the house franticly for the phone. His dad was the last person to use it, and neither Nick nor his papu could find it. Nick flipped all of the pillows off of the couch and finally he saw the phone.

"Daddy?" he said hopefully as he pushed the talk button.

"Hey buddy," Jim answered. "Were you guys still sleeping?"

"No, we couldn't find the phone," Nick said, feeling relieved that he didn't miss his dad's call. "Where are you?"

"I'm at Grandma and Grandpa's house, son," Jim said. "They want to talk to you when we're finished."

Nick sat on the couch and smiled. "When did you get there, dad?"

"Early in the morning son," Jim answered. "Did you sleep in my bed?"

"Yes sir," Nick said. "I miss you."

"I miss you too baby," Jim said. "I'll be back on Friday though."

Nick grinned and said, "I know. I wanted pancakes this morning."

"Tell papu to make them for you then, Nick," Jim urged. "He knows how."

Nick looked up at his papu and smiled at him right before he told him, "Dad says you have to make me pancakes." Nick could hear his dad laughing on the other end of the phone.

"So your papu hasn't burnt my house down, has he," Jim asked sarcastically, making Nick giggle.

"No, not yet," Nick answered.

"Ok, buddy," Jim said. "Your grandma wants to talk to you, ok?"

"Ok," Nick said. "I love you dad."

"I love you too, babe," Jim said. "I'll call you this afternoon when I know you're home from school." There was a short pause, then Nick heard Linda's voice greet him, and he perked up again.

"Good morning, sweetheart," Linda said.

"Good morning, Grandma," Nick answered. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, but I heard you were having a hard time," Linda said.

"I miss my dad," Nick said sadly.

"I know you do, Nick, but he'll be home in no time flat," she said. "What time do you have to be at school?"

"Eight twenty five," he answered. "But I have to leave earlier so I can play foursquare first."

Linda laughed and said, "Well, Grandpa was in here but I think he went to the neighbors. You can say hi to him later, ok?"

"Yes, ma'am," Nick said. "I love you Grandma."

"I love you too, sweetheart," Linda said. "Here's your father."

"Nick?" he heard his dad say. "I need to talk to papu, ok? Go give him the phone."

"Ok, dad," Nick said sadly. Nick walked into the kitchen where his papu was making pancakes for him, and he said, "Papu, dad wants to talk to you."

"Thanks, buddy," Jim said as Nick was about to hand the phone over.

"I love you, dad," Nick said as he handed his papu the phone.

Nick wandered back into his dad's room and laid back down on the bed. The sun wasn't out yet, so he knew that he had plenty of time before he had to get ready. He put his head back on the pillow and closed his eyes. When he woke up, his papu was shaking him awake, but he felt really tired. His eyes were bugging him and he felt dizzy and cold as well. He got up from the bed and stood still for a second and then he lay back down on the bed.

"Polakia, are you ok?" he heard his papu say.

"My eyes hurt, papu," Nick said. Nick had his eyes closed, but he felt his papu's hand on his forehead and on his cheeks. As soon as he felt his papu checking his temperature he knew that he was sick, and it was like all of the things that someone feels when they have the flu came to him at once. He felt the covers being pulled over him as he laid there, and soon he heard his papu telling him to open his mouth. Nick opened his eyes and saw that his papu had a thermometer in his hand, so he opened his mouth and let him stick it under his tongue. After it was taken out, Nick watched his papu leave the room again, and his eyes closed, and he fell asleep again.

"Come on, Nick, sit up for me." Nick opened his eyes and saw his papu standing there with a glass of water and some kind of pill in his hand. "I want you to take this for your fever. How do you feel?" Nick was miserable as he sat up and looked around his father's room.

"I want my daddy," Nick said as he tried to lay back down, but his papu supported his head.

"Come on, polakia, I need you to take this," big Nick said sternly. Nick let him put the pill in his mouth, then he took a drink of the water and swallowed it. "You're staying home today."

"Will you call my dad and tell him I'm sick," Nick asked.

"Sure I will," his papu answered softly. "Right now I want you to get comfortable. Do you want me to make you a bed on the couch instead?" Nick shook his head and laid back down.

"Papu, will you stay in here with me for a little bit," Nick asked with his eyes closed.

"Ok," he heard his papu say and then he felt him lay down next to him and wrap his arms around him.

"I love you, my little polakia," he said.

"I love you too, papu," Nick said and then he fell asleep.

The next time Nick opened his eyes, he could hear the bell from his school ringing, and his papu was still holding him on the bed, but he was sleeping. Nick slowly crawled out of the bed and made his way to the bathroom. When he was done, he went back into the room and curled back up under his papu's arm and fell back to sleep.

Sometime in the afternoon, Nick woke up again, but this time he was alone. He could hear voices coming from the living room and he could smell pot smoke. He knew that no one, not even his papu, smoked weed anywhere in the house. He got up and went to the bathroom, then he made his way into the living room, where he caught his two uncles, Brandon and Alex and one of their friends getting high. The three of them froze when they saw him standing there.

"Where's my papu at Uncle Brandon," Nick asked.

"He had to go to somewhere for work," Brandon said. "So we're watching you until he gets back. Are you feeling ok?" Brandon got up and walked toward Nick, reaching down to feel his forehead when he got close enough. Nick leaned into his uncle, who led him back into the bedroom and helped him into bed.

"Uncle Brandon, did my dad call yet?" Nick asked.

"Not yet," Brandon said. "He'll call soon."

"Can I call him?" Nick asked. Brandon shrugged and got up.

"I'll bring you the phone, dude," he said. "I don't want you to get up, ok?"

"Ok," Nick said. Brandon got up and walked out of the room to get the phone. When he got back, he handed Nick the phone.

"Do you want me to dial it for you?" he asked.

"No, thank you," Nick said smiling. "I know how."

Nick dialed his Grandparents number as Brandon walked out of the room and headed back to the living room.

"Hello?" he heard Tom say.

"Grandpa!" Nick said happily when he heard Tom's voice.

"Hey Kiddo," Tom said. "Shouldn't you be at school?"

"I'm sick," Nick said. "Papu made me stay home. I have a fever."

Tom and Nick talked for a few minutes and then Tom got Jim, who sounded surprised when he got on the phone.

"Son, what's wrong?" Jim asked as he came on the line.

"I'm sick, daddy," Nick said. "Didn't papu call you and tell you?"

"No he didn't," Jim said sounding ticked off. "Let me talk to him."

"He's not here," Nick said. "Uncle Brandon and Uncle Alex are watching me."

"What?" Jim said, sounding upset. "Where did he go?"

"I don't know, daddy," Nick said, sensing that his dad was concerned. "I woke up and he was gone and they were here with their friend."

"Where are they now, honey?" Jim asked, sounding even more upset than he was a second ago.

"They're smoking in the living room," he tattled.

"They're what?" Jim asked. Nick could feel his fury through the phone.

"They're smoking in the living room," he repeated.

"Where are you, babe?" Jim asked

"I'm alone in your room," Nick said. "I have a fever too, dad. I want you to come home."

"Nick, can you do daddy a favor?" Jim asked.

"Yes sir," Nick said, knowing what was coming next.

"I want you to get Uncle Brandon on the phone for me, ok?" Jim said. Nick put the phone down on the bed and hollered for his uncle, who came to see what he needed.

"My daddy wants to talk to you," Nick said handing his uncle the phone. Nick could hear Jim's explosion from the bed and he saw his uncles face turn to panic as Jim screamed into the phone. Brandon quickly left the room and closed the door on his way out and Nick settled back down on the bed and fell asleep.

When Nick opened his eyes it was later in the afternoon. His papu was back from wherever he went and he looked worried as he looked down at his grandson.

"What's wrong, papu?" Nick asked

"Nothing polakia," he answered.

"Are you sure," Nick asked. "You look like something's wrong."

"Nick, I talked to your dad, and he told me what happened," his papu finally said. "What did you see Uncle Brandon and Uncle Alex doing in the living room?"

"Smoking," Nick said. "Not cigarettes, though." The elder Nick sighed and looked around the room. He had a sick look on his face, and Nick didn't understand why at first, but finally his papu spoke.

"So you know what it was that they were smoking, don't you?," he said.

Nick nodded and looked down, a little embarrassed because he knew that he had tattled on his uncles.

"Are Uncle Brandon and Uncle Alex mad at me?," Nick asked.

"For what?" he said.

"Because I told my dad," Nick admitted to his papu.

"No, they aren't," he said. "I think they're a little embarrassed that you saw them, and that they did it in the house. They know better."

"Are they still here?" Nick asked. Nicks papu shook his head then he reached for Nick's hand and helped him out of the bed. He walked Nick to the bathroom and waited for him to finish, then he took Nick into the living room and they sat together on the recliner.

"Let's call your dad," his papu said as they got comfortable.

Nick dialed the number and waited. Linda answered, and then Tom got on and talked to him. Nick was shocked to find out that they both knew what happened. After a while Jim got on the phone and then he asked Nick to give the phone to his papu. While he laid in his papu's lap, he could hear his dad lecturing him about common sense and right and wrong. Nick felt really bad for his papu, so while Jim was talking down to him on the phone, Nick made sure he gave him a long hug and a kiss. Finally, Nick got the phone back and he talked to Jim one last time for the day, then they hung up.

"Papu," Nick said as they sat quietly in the recliner. "I love you."

"I love you too my little polakia," he answered. Nick knew that he got his papu in trouble with his dad, and he felt bad about it now. He wished that he had just gone back to bed and minded his own business.

"Is my dad mad at you?" Nick finally asked, looking at his papu's face for an answer

"I think so, buddy," he said. "But he has a right to be mad. You shouldn't have to see stuff like that."

"I'm sorry, papu," Nick said, feeling guilty.

"Don't you be sorry for anything, Nick," he said. "You did the right thing.'

Nick stayed quiet and thought for a while about the day, and he got tired again. As his eyes got heavy he felt his papu hoist him up and carry him back to bed.

Nick woke up at night, and he could hear loud yelling coming from the back yard.

"That's the reason he's taking my grandson and moving as far away as he can, goddamnit!," Nick heard his papu shouting. "How in the hell is he supposed to want us to be in Nick's life if he can't even trust us to do the right thing? Answer me!"

Nick heard his Uncle Alex trying to reason with big Nick, but it wasn't working. "Dad, please," he heard Alex pleading. "He was sleeping. We didn't know he was going to wake up. If we did we would've come to the back yard."

Nick could still hear the voices, but they seemed to get quieter and soon Nick started to drift off again. The next time he woke up, his papu was shaking him awake.

"Come on Nick," he heard him say. "You need to get in the tub." Nick could feel his papu lift him off of the bed, and he knew he was being carried into the bathroom, but he didn't know why. He was freezing cold, and he just wanted to go back to sleep. He could hear the bath water running, and when he was set on the floor, he felt his pajamas being peeled off of him.

"I'm going to put you in the water now, polakia," he heard his papu saying as he was lifted then lowered into the tub.

"Why?" was all Nick could seem to get out as he found himself in the tub. Then he said, "I'm cold."

Nick opened his eyes but his papu was gone, then he reappeared with the phone to his ear.

"I'm thinking about taking him to the emergency room if it gets any higher," his papu said.

Nick sat in the water for a long time and then he was lifted out of the tub and dried off. His papu took him into the living room, and dressed him in clean pajamas and then he wrapped him in a blanket and carried him out the front door.

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Nick sat on the cold table in the hospital as the doctor felt his forehead and his cheeks and said something to the nurse. He was cold and he wanted to take the gown that he was wearing off and put his own clothes back on, but he never got the chance. Eventually, someone came along and asked him to hold out his arm, and when he did, they used a cotton ball to clean the area, and while Nick held his papu's hand, they stuck a needle in his arm and took some blood from him. They gave him a small blanket to cover up with and closed the curtain, leaving him and his papu alone.

"I want to go home," Nick whined as he laid there.

"I know you do," his papu said. "But your fever is high and you needed to come to the hospital."

As Nick lay there, his papu held his hand and ran his fingers through his hair trying to make him feel better, but it wasn't working. After a while, the doctor returned and spoke to big Nick. After that, Nick was put on a different bed that they used to move him to a room. His papu was with him the whole time, and Nick was starting to get scared.

"How long do I have to be here," he asked. No one answered him, so he asked again. Finally, his papu spoke up.

"They just want to make sure your fever goes down," he said. "I'm not going to leave you, ok?"

When they got to his room, he was moved to a different bed, and what happened next was something he would never forget.

One of the nurses came into the room and put an IV in his arm, and Nick screamed from the pain of the needle going into him while his papu held him down. While Nick was crying, all he could think about was how bad he wished his dad was there with him. He had never felt so scared in his life, and even the fact that his papu was there with him wasn't making him feel better. Eventually, he fell asleep.

For the next few days, Nick was in the hospital. The IV that he had in his arm didn't hurt anymore, but it was still too much for Nick to look at, and he just tried to ignore it. On Friday, the day Nick was supposed to go with his papu to pick up his dad from the airport, Nick went home. On the way, he asked what time they were going to leave for Sacramento to get his dad.

"We aren't," his papu said. "Your uncles are going to pick him up."

"Why?" Nick said as he started to cry. "I want to see him."

"Nick, don't cry, buddy," his papu said. "He's going to be home soon. He might get there right after we do."

"Do you promise," Nick asked, still crying.

"I promise," his papu said. "Look, we'll call your Uncle Brandon on the phone and see if his flights landed yet, ok?"

"Ok," Nick said sadly. When they got home, Nick went straight to his dad's bed where he laid down and waited for his dad to come home. When his papu walked in with the phone in his hand, he had a smile on his face. "It's for you," he said.

Nick took the phone and held it up to his ear.

"Hello," he said.

"Hi Buddy," he heard his dad say on the other end. "We're on our way right now."

Nick smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.

He talked to his dad for a while on the phone, then they hung up and Nick anxiously waited on the couch. When he heard his uncle's stereo, he knew his dad was home. He jumped up off the couch and opened the front door as fast as he could to run outside, but Jim was already on the porch, ready to open the door himself.

"Daddy!" Nick said as he ran into his dad's hug. Jim lifted him off the ground and hugged him hard. Nick was actually so happy to see his dad that he started crying.

"I missed you so much daddy," Nick said. "Don't go away again." Jim kissed Nick on the cheek and carried him inside while he spoke.

"I missed you too, babe," he said. "I'm not leaving you anywhere anymore, either buddy. Dad was gone too long, I know."

"I was sick," Nick said as he clung to his dad as hard as he could with his arms and his legs. "I wanted you to take care of me. I was scared at the hospital."

"I know you were, baby," Jim said. "I was so worried about you. I hated not being here to take care of you."

"Look at my hair," Nick said, talking about the mess on top of his head that Jim normally brushed everyday.

"Hasn't papu been brushing it for you?" Jim asked.

"Kind of, but not as good as you do it," Nick said. "I'm glad your back."

"Me too, buddy," Jim said. "I missed you so much. But guess what?"

"What?" Nick asked.

"I don't have to go back until we move there," Jim said. "So you don't have to worry about us being away from each other anymore, ok?"

Nick lifted his head up and smiled at his dad, touching his face with his hands.

"I love you, daddy," he said.

"I love you too, honey," Jim said kissing him on the cheek again.

Nick and his dad stayed close for the rest of the afternoon, and finally Jim told Nick that he needed to lay down for a nap.

"You're still sick, son," Jim said. "I want you to get some rest. You can sleep with me tonight."

Jim tucked Nick into his own bed and Nick fell asleep right away. When he woke up he could hear his dad coughing in the backyard and talking to his brothers and father. Nick got out of his bed and went into the bathroom, where he put the seat down on the toilet so he could stand up on it and look out the window. He saw his dad with a tray in his lap rolling a joint while his uncle Alex waited patiently for him to take the joint that was already burning from him and hit it. Finally, Jim took the joint and took a long hit. He let the smoke roll out of his mouth, then he took it all back in. While he still had the first hit in his lungs, he hit the joint a second time, causing him to cough again. Then he passed the joint to his dad, who did the same thing with it that Jim did.

Nick climbed down and went into the living room and turned on the TV. He sat quietly on the couch and watched cartoons while he waited for his dad, his uncles and his papu to come back inside. When they did, he visited with them all for a while. He noticed that his uncles were being especially nice to him, and they had been all week. While he was in the hospital, his Uncle Alex brought him presents everyday, and his Uncle Brandon sat with him and fed him when the nurses would bring him his meals, which he wasn't planning on eating. Brandon even made a special trip to get him some frozen yogurt so that he would eat on his first day in the hospital.

Finally everyone left, and it was just Nick and his dad for the first time since his dad got home. Jim locked the door and sat down on the couch next to Nick, feeling his forehead and kissing it.

"How do you feel," he asked.

"Sick," Nick fibbed. He was actually feeling better, but he wanted his dad to spoil him as much as possible.

"I'm sorry you're sick, babe," Jim said as he lifted his son up onto his lap. Nick snuggled up to his dad and looked up at him.

"Do you want to take a shower with daddy tonight," Jim asked. Nick nodded slowly and he could tell that Jim was still worried about him. They sat on the couch for a while longer, then Jim got up to make dinner. They went into the kitchen together and Jim looked for something to cook. When he saw that there was nothing to eat, he cussed and called for a pizza.

While they ate, Nick and Jim talked about Virginia. Jim told Nick about his new school and the house that they were going to live in as soon as it was ready, and about his job. He was still going to be a driver for Schwans, but only for a while. Soon he would be going back to school and starting a new job. Jim told Nick that at first when they moved, they would be staying with Nick's grandparents, Tom and Linda, but that it would only be for a week or two. Then they could move into their house.

"Dad," Nick started. "Are we moving to Virginia because you hate papu?"

"No sweetheart," Jim answered, kind of shocked by the question. "What makes you think that?"

"I heard papu yelling at Uncle Alex," Nick said. "He said that you were taking me and moving as far away as you could because you can't trust them."

"Well, papu's wrong if he thinks that, son," Jim said. "That is not the reason we're moving."

"Why then," Nick asked. Jim sighed and smiled at his son.

"Because if we move, I can do better things for both of us, son," Jim said. "I want to be home for you and I want to be able to give you more."

"But I have a lot of things, dad," Nick said. "I'm going to miss my papu."

"I know you are, son," Jim said. "I'm going to miss him too, but we're still going to see each other all the time."

"How," Nick asked.

"We'll visit each other," Jim said. "Trust me, I know that your papu can't go very long without seeing his polakia." Nick smiled at his dad. He knew that what his dad was saying was true. His papu wouldn't go very long without a visit, and Nick knew that his dad wouldn't be able to go long without a visit either.

Finally, they finished eating and Jim put away the left over pizza. Nick waited at the table while he did that, then he followed his dad into the bathroom so they could take a shower. After a long shower, they got out and dried off. Jim took Nick into his room with him wrapped in a large towel and set him on the bed while he got ready himself. Then he went into Nick's room and got his pajamas. He came back into the room and Nick laid still while his dad dressed him. Then they went into the living room to watch TV on the couch together. Nick's eyes started to get heavy, but he fought to keep them open. But as soon as he heard his fathers loud snoring, he gave up and fell asleep.

When Nick woke up, he was in bed next to his dad, who was snoring again. Nick crawled out of the bed to go to the bathroom. When he was finished, he went back into the room and lay back down. While he was lying there, he thought about the week he had just been through, and he was glad that his dad was home. He knew that if his dad had been there, half of what happened wouldn't have. His papu would never have left him alone with his uncles because his dad wouldn't have gone to work if he knew that Nick had a fever. Nick wondered to himself what kind of father his papu was when his dad was growing up and why his dad seemed to make better decisions than his papu or his oma did. Then Nick started thinking about his oma, wondering if she ever thought about him at all, or if she even missed him. He knew that his dad told her that they were moving, but he didn't know what she said about it.

"Why aren't you sleeping?" Nick heard from the bed as he looked at the ceiling.

"I was just thinking," he answered.

"About what, buddy?" Jim asked.

"Just everything, dad," Nick said. "I was thinking about papu and oma and Uncle Alex and Uncle Brandon and you and everything."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Jim offered. Instead of answering, Nick rolled over into his dad and started to cry. Jim wrapped his arms around him and asked him why he was crying.

"I know what's wrong," Nick said as he wept. "It's everyone, isn't it?"

"What do you mean, son?" Jim asked as he rocked Nick in the bed.

"That's why we're moving," Nick said. "It's everyone here."

Jim sat up in the bed and pulled Nick up with him, holding him tighter and letting him cry. After a while, Nick was able to calm down and he reached up and touched his dad's face. It was still dark in the room, but Nick could read the worry on his dad's face.

"Am I right, dad?" Nick asked.

"Yes, son, you are," Jim said quietly. "Son, I love our family, but we both deserve to have a better life. Your papu has Uncle Brandon and Uncle Alex to worry about, and I have you to worry about. I can't be there to clean up after my brothers anymore."

"And papu?" Nick asked.

"Yes Nick, and papu," Jim said sadly. Nick felt so bad for his dad, and for the first time, he understood his decision to move. It was as if someone had hit a switch, and it all made sense to him. Jim wasn't moving them just because. He was moving them because he had to. Because if he didn't, things would always be the way they were. What Nick went through the week before was something his dad dealt with all the time, and Nick never realized that before.

"It's going to be better in Virginia, dad?" Nick asked.

"Yes baby, it is," Jim said. "I wouldn't move us if it wasn't."

"Can I take my clothes and my toys with me, and Pooh Bear?" Nick asked.

"Well, of course you can, son," Jim said. "We'll take everything we want to take with us."

"When are we moving?" Nick asked.

"Probably in two weeks, son," Jim said. Nick clung to his dad and thought about it. At first he thought that it would be too soon, but the thought that his dad would be there to make everything ok changed his mind..

"I can't wait, dad," he finally said.

"Me either Nick," Jim spoke. "We're going to be ok. I promise."

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