Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chapter XXXI

      I quietly went down into the basement and found all six kids sleeping in a puppy pile on the futon.  The bottom step squeaked and Paulie forced an eye open.  “Is everything OK now Dovie?”

      “Right as rain Monkey Man.”

      “Jude fixed it?”

      I sighed.  I sure hope Jude doesn’t do anything to fall off of the pedestal that Paulie is trying to put him on.  “Yeah.  Jude fixed it.”

      “OK.  Can we sleep here?”

      “Sure.”  He let his eye fall closed again and I pulled a couple of quilts out of the cedar chest under the stairs and draped them over the kids as it was turning chilly and they were just getting over their sniffles.

      I walked back upstairs and found Jude sitting at the table with his head down.  “You OK?”

      He gave a muffled snort.  “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

      I sighed.  “Jude, maybe there is something wrong with me but after what we went through to get from Phoenix to here?  That mess tonight just didn’t really knock me off my pins too much.”

      “It didn’t bother you?” he sat up slowly and asked tiredly.

      “I .. well … bother me?  Yeah, sorta.  But I don’t think the way you mean it.  If they had come anywhere close to hurting the kids then yeah … then I would have been upset but mostly I’m just sort of … sort of disappointed I guess to find out people are people no matter where you go.  Seems it doesn’t matter if it is there or here, there’s always some that want to spoil it for everyone else.  I suppose I should have known … but I’m just glad that you were here.”

      “You sure?  ‘Cause I used to pal around with those a-holes.  I used to be one of them.”

      “Being around them and being one of them isn’t the same thing Jude.  I never heard you ever treat a girl like they were wanting to treat me.”

      “Not that of course, but wellll …”

      “Deep subject.  I’m telling you Jude, you may have made some bad choices on more than one occasion but you were never like those guys were tonight; you were wild, but you weren’t ruint.  When you were sober you worked hard.  I never heard you sass Aunt Frankie and you never once hit your sisters no matter how many times they egged you on and hit and pinched you.  And I never heard that any of your girlfriends complain about you hurting them.”

      He hunched his shoulders and if he could have pulled his head in like a turtle I’m pretty sure he would have.  “Still …”

      “Still nothing.  And even so … what you might have been then is not what you are now.”

      Quietly he asked, “You sure?”

      “Sure I’m sure.  Have you ever known me to not be free with my opinion?”  He gave an involuntary

snort of laughter.  I told him, “See.?  You know it yourself.  I promise if I thought you were being a jerk I would be the first one to tell you.”

      “Granny,” he muttered.

      I turned my nose up and ignored him just to make him smile again and then sat at the table and groaned.  He jumped and said, “Are you sure you are ok?”

      “I wasn’t groaning because I’m hurt.  I’m groaning thinking about how late it is and how early the sun is going to rise.”

      He said, “Don’t remind me.  It’s not even worth going to bed.  I’ll just wake up more tired.  And Mr. Carlson said he expects me first thing passed sunrise but to … and I quote … be quiet about it because he is going to have a sleep in since he had to work so late with the posse, end quote.”

      “I thought that was him trying to stare through the curtains to see what all was in the house.”  Shaking my head I said, “I can’t believe he still expects you to get there that early.  Do you have to do this job?”

      “Yeah,” he said regretfully.  “I do because we need the feed.  But I’ll be watching the scales while he is measuring out.  I’ll see about bringing back a pumpkin for the kids.  It’ll probably have to be one with a couple of bad spots in it but at least they’ll get to carve it.”

      “Oh Jude, the kids will love that.  I know Uncle Roe never tolerated Halloween but there was always an Autumn harvest festival out at the fairgrounds.”

      Regretfully he said, “There won’t be one this year.  There was talk about having one but security for it would be too hard.  And with the war and all … oh, I guess you haven’t heard.”

      “Heard what?”

      Sadly he said, “They’ve started bombing again.  It’s all starting back up.”

      Slowly I asked, “What … what about the draft?  They’d been talking about one when we were back in the facility before they took the TVs away.”

      He shook his head.  “Too expensive.  Can you believe that?  How those ijits in DC expect to win a war on the cheap I don’t know.  Besides, they’ve got more than enough people enlisting just to get something to eat on a regular basis.  Seems the only two places most people can find that anymore is in the military or in the jails.  Sad ain’t it?”

      “Yeah,” I told him thinking of Dad and Jack and Jay.

      “Why don’t you go on to bed?  You gotta be tired.”

      “Tired but wired.  If you aren’t going to sleep then I won’t.  I don’t need much sleep anyway.  When we were on the road I’d go two or three days between any kind of real sleep.”

      Mulishly he said, “Well you ain’t on the road anymore, you’re here.”

      I shrugged.  “Looks like there is less and less difference except I’m not having to scavenge for fuel to keep the wheels turning.”

      He looked at me closely and I realized I must have sounded morose.  e HI shook my head.  “Don’t listen to me, just a little reaction is all.  Tell you what, how about I dig out the coffee.  You haven’t asked for any since that first cup but under the circumstances …”

      “You sure Dovie?  ‘Cause I could take that to the black market and fetch you just about anything you wanted for it.”

      “Black market?”

      “Yeah.  I wouldn’t want you fooling with those people but they really aren’t bad all things considered.  Rochelle gets her medical supply refills from them on occasion in exchange for some doctoring for free.”

      “Is she really that good?”

      “Yeah.  Some of the real old folks say she is better than what they had when they were growing up.  She acts like a bear with a sore head with the family but everyone else she has a real good bedside manner with.”

      “If you say so.”

      “I do.  And if you are serious about that offer of coffee I’ll try not and beg so hard I embarrass you.”

      I smiled and made myself get up and make a large pot of coffee … and not the drano tasting vending machine coffee either but the good stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Kathy thanks for the story I finely cough up. looking for more soon have a great day.