mind-wiper

The Look

Based on a story idea from musclelover4826

It was unexpected when Adam messaged me.  I hadn’t heard from him in a few months.  We had been good friends for years, but then he moved a few suburbs over, got a new job that ate up all his time and gradually we had hung out less and less.  So it was welcome to see that he had messaged me.  

When I read the message though, it wasn’t had also probably been his best friend for the longest time. He must not have anyone else to turn to.  

That’s amazing mate!  I’m not sure I’m very good with kids, but if you really need the support, of course I’ll do what I can

It was the best I could do.  I mean, I didn’t want to say no, but I also didn’t want to be too enthusiastic.  

The bubble appeared showing he was typing a reply right away.  

Thanks dude!  I know kids have never been your thing, so this really would mean the world to me.  How about we meet at Harold’s tomorrow around noon, talk things over?  

Damn, he must really be that desperate.  Well I couldn’t refuse, what kind of friend would do that?  

Cool, see you then!  

**

Harold’s was a cafe Adam and I used to have lunch at pretty often.  But it had been nearly a year since I’d last been there.  I hoped it would be like old times, but I knew that was impossible now.  I had so many questions.  How did he end up adopting, how old was the kid, how did he manage the expenses?  

Adam looked pretty much the same as always when I spotted him sitting at a table toward the far side of the cafe.  He was thirty-two, thin with a receding hairline.  He used to wear glasses, but he’d had that laser surgery a few years back.  He wasn’t as well groomed or dressed as he could have been.  I took a lot of pride in my appearance, spent time getting my hair and outfit right each morning.  Adam often looked like he just threw on whatever was cleanest.  

Today he was in a t-shirt and track pants, his standard attire when he wasn’t at work.  I never said anything about it anymore. 

“Sam! Great to see you!” he greeted me, rising from the table to shake hands and then give a quick man-hug.  

“I’ve missed hanging out,” I told him.  “I thought you were just busy with work, so I didn’t try to push you.  I had no idea your life had got so complicated.  Sorry I didn’t stay in touch.”  

“No worries mate, I’m the one who should have been keeping you in the loop,” he told me.  “Anyway, the adoption was very sudden.”

“I guess it must have been.  You never talked about wanting a kid,” I said.  

“Well it was an unusual circumstance.  My little boy, he isn’t actually little, physically I mean.”  

I was confused and it showed on my face.  

“I mean he’s a little boy on the inside, up here,” he explained, tapping his temple.  “But on the outside, he’s big.”  

“So you adopted an intellectually impaired adult?” I asked.  

“Essentially yeah.”  

Now I really didn’t know what to think.  

“I didn’t even know that was possible.”  

“Well technically I’m his legal guardian, his power of attorney.  It’s an alternative to putting him into an institution, some heartless bureaucracy,” he explained.  

“How did this happen?” I asked, utterly baffled.  

“Mikey was a co-worker of mine.  He was a really smart guy, really friendly, but kind of kept to himself.  He didn’t have a partner, he was estranged from his family.  And then there was an incident, and he was left profoundly impaired.  With no family, he’d have been stuck in some institution and I couldn’t let that happen… so, I adopted him,” Adam explained.  

Oh Adam, poor bleeding heart Adam.  Of course he’d done it.  He’d never talked about kids, but he was the caring type.  

“That’s incredible Adam, I really have to take my hat off to you.”  

“It’s been wonderful, really.  He’s still big on the outside, but he’s really just a sweet, silly little boy now and I’ve found it so rewarding being his daddy.  That’s what he calls me you see.  It’s easier that way. We don’t ever mention his old family, who just abandoned him.

“But it is very draining to be daddy all the time, twenty-four seven.  And I was hoping to have a night a week off.  The problem is that no babysitter will watch a boy like mine.  So I was wondering if you’d do it for twenty dollars an hour, once a week?”  

Every week was way more than I had expected.  But I also hadn’t expected to be offered money to help my friend.  I was saving up to buy a house and every bit helped.  But watching a grown-up man who behaved like a child?  I wasn’t sure I could handle it either.  But again, I felt obligated to at least try.  

“I’d love to help, Adam,” I told him.  “When were you thinking?”  

Adam looked overjoyed.  

“Thanks so much Sam!” he gushed.  “Well, I was thinking Tuesday nights, so I could do pub quiz.”   

“Tuesdays would work for me,” I agreed.  

“Perfect! Now, you should probably meet Mikey,” Adam went on.  

“Sounds good.  You want me to meet him before Tuesday then?”  

Adam laughed. “No silly, I meant right now.”  

He gestured over my right shoulder and I looked over where he was gazing.  Harold’s had a small area for little kids to play while their parents ate.  It was just some basic toys, but it kept the little tots entertained.  

But right now it wasn’t a tiny tot playing there, it was a grown man.  Mikey appeared to be mid-twenties, average build, with messy light brown hair.  He was down on the floor on his hands and knees, playing with a toy tractor.  His t-shirt featured a cartoon raccoon and the words Daddy’s Little Rascal.  He had a pair of bright blue board shorts on as well, but he was barefoot and looking around I didn’t see any discarded pairs of shoes or sandals either in the play area or under our table.  

“Mikey! Come over here honey!” Adam called to him.  

I blushed at the attention being drawn to this grown man playing with little kid toys.  Other cafe customers looked of course.  Eyes widened as others noticed the oversized tyke.  Some looked disgusted, others filled with pity.  

Mikey shoved his toy tractor along the floor, running towards us hunched over as he pushed it along until it rammed into the empty chair next to mine.  

The barefooted man giggled and then looked up at us.  I could see the innocence in his eyes now, the slackness of his face.  Yes, it was obvious he wasn’t mentally all there.  

“Tac-taw go boom!” he announced.  

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musclelover4826

Thank you for going with my idea. This story was perfect! Thank you