This chapter has actually been revised almost not at all - it's one of the few that I liked the way it was. I took out one exclamation mark and that's nearly it.
A few weeks after his visit to the police, Heyes arrived at the clinic looking even neater than his usual carefully groomed self. This was a special day when he would be starting new work with a new person and he wanted to be ready. He was carefully shaved and brushed, wearing a new grey suit, white dress shirt with a high paper collar, and a narrow black tie. All of this, his patron had funded. Heyes felt terribly shamed about accepting such charity, but he couldn't help it. He didn't have the funds to buy new city clothes. With so small a vocabulary, he hadn't dared to try yet to play poker with strangers and he had no other means of income. He had done some small tasks around the clinic, carrying supplies up the stairs, but hadn't been given any regular job that would really help to pay his way. He couldn't wear his best suit from the West every day, and in New York, his western informal clothes would have looked ridiculous. So he allowed his patrons to pay for most of his new clothes and other day-to-day necessities. He kept track of all his expenses that were covered by his patron. Heyes swore to himself that one day he would repay every penny to whoever it was who was paying for his treatment and living expenses. He didn't even know who the person was.
But Heyes was glad to look sharp as he started his first lesson with the clinic's tutor, Miss Warren. It helped him to have the courage to knock on her door after his usual lunch at a nearby deli, where they were used to silent, or nearly silent, customers. At least Heyes was now able to say “please,” when he pointed to what he wanted, and “thank you” when the man handed it to him.
He was apprehensive about starting his tutoring. Heyes guessed that this "studying" was probably mostly an excuse for him to practice his speech and, eventually, writing. But Heyes really hoped that he would actually learn some new content as well. It had always bothered him that he hadn't been able to finish school and that what schooling he had gotten had been so poor and spotty.
Miss Warren welcomed the stiffly nervous Mr. Smith into her office saying, "Good afternoon Mr. Smith," but the proper words were paired with a warm smile. They sat on opposite sides of a broad desk that had seen better days. Heyes felt awkward and knew that his new tutor could see it. He hadn't studied with anyone in more than twelve years – and that was just when he had worked on mathematics with the former school teacher who had been with one of his early gangs for a while. That had been a far less formal situation, to say the very least.
Miss Warren, with a direct gaze into Heyes' brown eyes, immediately addressed his concerns in a serious little speech to which he listened attentively, "Mr. Smith, I realize that it is hard for a man like you to study with a woman, or with anyone, this long after you have been out of school. You aren't used to it. But I am. I appreciate how awkward it is for you. I'm used to people who have a hard time talking. It doesn't bother me. I know how to deal with it and I'll help you to manage it, too.
You have nothing to be ashamed of – unless you fail to work hard. What happened to you to temporarily take away your speech was not your fault. I don't look down on anyone for what he can't do. I respect a man for what he can and will do. I respect you for what you are doing here. I will do everything that I possibly can to help you not only to learn how to communicate again, but to improve your knowledge and background.
If you do your work well, when you're done here you will not only have back as much as possible of what you have lost; you will also have new skills. You'll be ready to go out and earn an honest living again. Are you ready to get down to work?"
Heyes smiled shyly and nodded. He wasn't sure that he was ready to do well, but he was ready to try. Miss Warren couldn't know that he had, in fact, only rarely earned an honest living before. Nothing could have made the situation Heyes faced anything other than difficult and frightening, but Miss Warren's frank speech improved things. Now he had an idea of where he stood with this plump, conservatively-dressed lady of about his own age. Thank goodness she wasn't younger or very attractive; that would have made things much more difficult for a man struggling to regain his dignity. Miss Warren's straight-forward attitude also helped. A bubbly, over-enthusiastic young woman teacher would have been just unendurable.
Miss Warren had a stack of books on her desk. She said, "Mr. Smith, what grade did you get to in school?" When he hesitated, she continued, "I know that conditions for you out West were – irregular – so don't let it bother you if your formal education didn't go very far. That's no indication whatsoever of your intelligence or your practical knowledge." Reassured, Heyes held up all the fingers of his right hand and his left index finger, and bent his middle finger to indicate a bit of the seventh grade. Miss Warren nodded and put aside the first few books stacks in front of her, then moved the other books toward Heyes.
She continued, "So you made it to part of seventh grade?" Heyes nodded. "I understand that you read well, in addition to having an impressive command of mathematics. So let's start there. You should have no trouble looking through these mathematics text books. Just put aside any books whose content you have already mastered. When you get to books that have some things that are new to you, then look more closely. Don't take the time to read carefully and study anything yet. We'll go over anything new together later. For now, just look through these quickly and put a check mark next to the areas that you already know – that you learned and still remember. This will give me an idea of how to structure your lessons.
Don't be self-conscious about not being able to check some elementary things – those are the ones you saw the longest ago and that's a long time to remember anything. If anything interests you in particular, you might put an arrow or a star next to it or whatever mark you can make easily. I understand that writing letters is a challenge for you. In mathematics, at least, it will be easy to work around it, since I understand that you write numbers well. There's an empty office next door where you can have privacy to start looking through these. Get as far as you can in two hours, and you can look at the rest tomorrow. Alright?"
Joshua nodded and found himself smiling. He hadn't looked at a math book in so long; it would be a pleasure to study books with new material in them. He picked up the pile of books, ranging from 5th grade to 10th grade, and a pencil and carried them to the office next door. There he found a table and a comfortable arm chair and plenty of daylight for reading. Joshua raced through the pile of books so fast that there was nothing left to go through the next day. He piled the annotated books on Miss Warren's desk and gave her a wave as he left. The next day was for starting serious work with Miss Warren! He actually felt excited to think about it.
The Kid might have laughed at Heyes for looking forward to studying, but the Kid wasn't there. Heyes kind of missed getting that kind of grief, come to think of it, although he would never have admitted it.