Chapter Eleven

I woke up one morning with a slight fever. My mother noticed it and kept me out of school. Pam came over early to watch me. Later in the day my father came over after Pam called him.

“How are you doing, son?” he asked, taking my hand gently.

I couldn’t talk, so I couldn’t tell him I didn’t like people making a fuss over something as unimportant as a fever.

The next day the fever was still there, so Dad and Nancy took me to my pediatrician, Dr. Kohlenbrenner. I hated that doctor. It was painfully obvious that he didn’t like children and had chosen the wrong specialty. He would have been better as a radiologist or a pathologist — the kind of doctors who don’t have to deal with people.

He took my pulse, listened to my chest, took my temperature, made me say “Ahhhh,” and pronounced me in perfect health.

“It’s probably a slight infection,” he told Dad. “I’m going to prescribe an antibiotic that will kill it. But don’t let him go to school until the fever is gone. It could be something contagious.”

I stayed at home with Pam for a few days. The fever disappeared and I went back to school. About a week later the fever came back. My father was alarmed.

“That Kohlenbrenner is an idiot,” he told Pam. “I’m going to take Max to someone better.”

He made some calls, had Nancy make some calls, and they found a female pediatrician named Dr. Scherzer. Her office was across town, but my father took the morning off to take me.

Dr. Scherzer was a very good-looking woman in her forties. She had very long black hair and white skin. Her eyes were very dark. She wore a colorful blouse that looked like it came from some other country. She looked sort of like the Good Witch of the East. I congratulated myself on meeting yet another good-looking woman.

“Max, I’m glad to meet you.” Her voice was very husky. “I hear you’re not feeling well.”

I couldn’t answer so I just smiled.

She took my blood pressure and asked me to say “Ahhh.” Then she felt my armpits. She paused, then felt them again.

“You’ve got a little lump under the armpit,” she said. “Probably a slight infection.”

She gave me a lollipop and went out to talk to my father.

“Okay, Max, you’re free to go,” she said brightly when she returned. “See you next week!”

But the look in my father’s eyes told me something was wrong.

As we sat in the car he called Nancy on his cell phone.

“We have to get a second opinion. Right away.”

Then he turned to me. “It’s nothing, Max,” he said. “You’ll be back in school in no time.”

These adults. They thought because I can’t talk I can’t understand anything. I never cease to be amazed at how much they blab in front of me.

But I didn’t believe the problem I had was really serious. How could it be? I was only eight years old.