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Seth picks up the crayon sketch of a dog lying on Aaron’s bed. “I didn’t know you had a pet, Aaron. You must really miss this dog.” “Wrong guess, Seth. I don’t have a dog now but I will one day. I’ll call him ‘Dexter.’ We’ll be known as ‘Mr. H. and Dexter.’ Pretty classy, huh?” Seth is relieved. Dexter is one more reason not to get involved with Aaron. Imagine what Mr. H. and Dexter would do to his minimalist high-rise condo overlooking the park. Why is he even thinking about Aaron in his condo? The kid’s future living accommodations are no worry of his. After all, he pays plenty of taxes to the city to take care of just this sort of thing. Serving in the military for two decades followed by five years in private practice and he is about to become partner in one of the most prestigious internal medicine clinics in the city. Life is good. Aaron breaks the silence. “You have a hot time over the weekend, Seth? Hooked up with some babe? I bet a rich doc like you knows plenty of hot mamas.” The kid is especially sarcastic today. Ignoring the remark, Seth scans his computer to check the updated file. “Aaron, this is great! Why didn’t you tell me you’re breaking out of this joint in three days? You can go back into what you call the ‘free world.’” “No big deal, Doc. Weird as it sounds, this dump has kinda become my home. And nerd that you are, you’ve kinda become my best friend. Actually, my only friend. I guess I’ll miss all that. Foster homes aren’t always warm and fuzzy you know. Besides, Dexter probably wouldn’t be welcome. You know how foster care is.” Seth doesn’t know. Why should he? A comfortable east coast childhood and Ivy League schooling doesn’t include kids needing foster care. Right now he just wants to get out of this gloomy county hospital. Quickly and for good. Too many memories, old scarred ones and fresh new ones. “Well, Aaron, this is my last visit. I’ve made partnership and won’t be coming around anymore. Best of luck to you, pal. I know you’ll be glad to leave.” Silence. Turning to face the wall, the patient ignores the doctor. Seth closes his computer and quickly leaves the room. He should feel relieved; Aaron isn’t his worry any more. He’s fulfilled his pro bono hours. 12

Connective Tissue 2013 | Volume 6