Ninety Three

McKenzie and I engage in a game of Go, cross legged on the mat in front of the fireplace. She trounced me the first half dozen times despite neither of us playing before. I can be persistent though and I’ve started to give her a game worth playing, a little more territory each time, not enough to declare victory.
At first, I thought she might play mechanically and the board would begin to reveal repetitions. So much for my original thought. She plays like every game is her first, her first in the sense that she seldom, almost never, makes the same opening moves. There’s nothing predictable, my lack of expertise shows, I don’t recall all her openings, but I recall enough to know most of them are new.
Natalie, “She cleaning your clock again?”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, I’m getting closer, my last moves got her stalled out, it was four or five seconds before she decided.”
“Sounds like you have her terrorized.”
Mickey is kibitzing from the sidelines, “You aren’t aggressive enough Chef, Mac goes for the throat, she plays to win, you play not to lose.”
“I’m improving, the games go fifteen or twenty minutes now, they used to be five minutes.”
“Only because you’re taking longer to move, besides it’s about territory, not time.”
“Bug off kid.”
Natalie giggles, “You aren’t winning this discussion Chef.”
You get a point for surrounding your opponent or for capturing a stone. McKenzie has the most points…again.
Burma was glued to the board, following every click of the stones, Zelda lays next to McKenzie with her bowling ball head in Mac’s lap. Unlike Burma, she has no interest in the action. Zelda’s idea of action is when McKenzie announces it’s time to ‘feed Zelda’, which is what she says after she’s got me surrounded.
It’s exactly five o’clock. Mac gets up, we hear pellets clink into Zelda’s bowl and smaller pellets clink into Burma’s.
The children take their respective pals outside for a hike around the property.
Elle, “What’s dinner Chef?”
I look to the stove, nothing, ah, spot the slow cooker, lift the lid, more nothing. Check the refrigerator, bingo. Mac has steaks marinating, fat rounds of filet. Further investigation reveals five Idaho potatoes. I open the freezer, bag of chopped spinach. Girls love our steak and creamed spinach duo, fluffy baked an added pleasure.
“Steak, baked and creamed spinach.”
Three ‘yays’, Elle, Zoe C and Nat are not picky eaters, they work, work out, stay busy the better part of the day and don’t have to be calorie shy.
The kids and their two friends return.
“McKenzie, I assume you intended steak, potatoes and spinach, right?”
“I will grill steak outside, you will make the rest.”
It’s good to have direction, a sense of purpose, Zelda is poking her nose on my hand, she knows steak when she smells it.
I give her head a scratch, “McKenzie will cut you a hunk I’m sure, relax.”
She flops down on the kitchen floor, Zelda could relax through a Communist invasion. Burma, on the other hand, is feeling frisky after her outdoor adventure, she races across the room and zips up her tree. Cats love private space, come to think of it, so do I. Maybe I should get a Chef Tree.
Zoe C, “Quit being ridiculous, you don’t get private space, you get three hotties, two wonderfully weird kids and two lovely animals that can read their minds…and ours for that matter.”
“Leave my head alone, make us a drink.”
She goes to the bar, I line up potatoes, poke holes with a fork. They need a vapor release in the microwave or they will burst and leave blasted potato all over the interior. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic and onion powder, place them on paper towels in the microwave and crank it up. Let it run long enough so the potatoes are just starting to soften, then wrap in foil and into a three fifty oven.
Creamed spinach is a five minute process once the spinach has boiled for a few. McKenzie added chopped artichoke hearts one time, a big hit, now we add them all the time. It’s the simple things.
Mickey cranks up her keyboard, plays and sings a pop song I’ve never heard of. How do I know it’s a pop song? Give me a break, breaking up, making up, accusations and recriminations, all pop songs have the same subjects and pretty much the same beat. Then she shifts to hip hop. When I turn to see, the three girls are hip hopping. I’m mesmerized, like I have my own private dance club. Maybe I should get a strobe.
The song ends, Zoe C comes over, “Not a dancer?”
“White men can’t dance, they can only flail around and look ridiculous.”
She laughs, “Not all, but you’re right, most of them got zero rhythm.”
“That would be me.”
Zelda leads McKenzie in, she got a platter of beautifully charred steaks. Must have given Zelda her bit, she lays down next to Mac’s chair.
Elle is our main food enthusiast, “Nothing better than a perfectly charred steak, hint of blood towards the center, butter soaked baked and sweet creamed spinach.”
Zoe C, “You say that about lasagna, osso buco, white beans and sausage, meatloaf, cornbread, roasted or friend chicken, pizza, poached eggs, omelets, bacon…shall I go on?”
“I love Chef and Mac’s cooking, compliments are both sincere and an inducement to keep standards high. Mac, can we have waffles tomorrow, or pancakes, I’m up for either.”
McKenzie blinks at her, which means she heard and understands.
“I’ll make poached eggs, you want bacon?”
“When does anyone ever turn down bacon?”
She has a point, I’ve added crisp bacon strips to a grilled cheese, heaven.
Nat, “McKenzie made two thousand today.”
“Two thousand four hundred and fifty three.”
Mac values precision.
From the top of her tree, Burma lurks like a vulture scanning the territory for prey.
Elle excuses herself to run upstairs for a sec, Burma launches and smacks her back, drops to the floor and scoots to the couch. 
Elle screeches, we laugh, no matter how many times Burma tags her, she never remembers to take a wider berth. The thing is, Burma isn’t always up there, you could pass her tree ten or twenty times and she’s either sleeping or off elsewhere.
This evening, she’s leapt up to the back of the couch, her head waves back and forth enjoying her conquest.
Mickey giggles, “Burma is a ninja attack cat, except only a playful one,” she claps her hands then holds them out, the cat jumps down from the couch strolls elegantly across the floor and expertly leaps into Mickey’s lap.
Natalie, “When did you teach her that?”
“I didn’t, she just does it, but she also jumps in my lap when I don’t do anything.”
McKenzie, “Sherlock.”
That means we’re watching a Sherlock Holmes thing tonight, good with me, while there’s murder and plenty of bad guys and girls, it isn’t as gory as the forensic shows. I’m more sensitive than usual since Zoe C and I just returned from Seattle where we stared at cut up bodies, plus the one I cut up, just didn’t kill.
We come to a part of the day we all enjoy the most. Plopped on the couch, little girls cross legged on the mat, their friends curled up in front of them. Zelda lays flat facing McKenzie, Burma climbs on the mastiff’s back and falls asleep between her shoulders.
Natalie watches with her head on my shoulder, whispers, “This is a near perfect life.”
I’m sensing I get lucky tonight.

Ninety Four

We got the expanded gym built, I left details to Zoe C and Elle. It’s super roomy, the entire floor is martial arts mats, a variety of equipment, one wall has wooden bars for stretching like a dance studio. There’s a balance beam and uneven bars, we stopped there, it’s enough for McKenzie and Mickey, most of what they do is tumbling. They’ve gotten quite good, back and front flips across the floor, they walk on their hands, Elle pretzels them into various yoga contortions.
McKenzie will practice for exactly one hour, then she’s off to take Zelda around the property, they shower by the pool, then she comes in for dinner prep.
Mac handles her autism well because she stays busy all day, and she has Zelda to look after, or more like they look after each other.
Mickey is the bundle of energy. If we didn’t keep her on the move, she’d be ADHD. Kids so diagnosed need movement, give them a task, and have another task ready when they’re done. A kid, or an adult, with ADHD is perpetually looking for ‘what next?’ They blaze through the current assignment then need a fresh assignment following on the heels of the completed one. Or, in our case, supply enough variety, cat, music, gym, swimming, languages and math so that she stays busy on her own. She never complains about too much to do, and with so many alternatives she doesn’t need to think about what’s next.
Zoe C, “You have a message, looks like Detective Casper.”
“What did it say?”
“You think I read your messages?”
“You read my mind, what difference can it make if you read my messages?”
“She said she started out kind of freaky, got on her high horse about vigilante justice. When she settled down, she realized that what she wanted was vigilante justice. Which is why the site is there in the first place.”
“She’s caught in a made up ethical dilemma, but made up or not she believes it, or believed it.”
“You mean she drank the kool-aid that the only proper justice is the so called rule of law. The rule that all rich people ignore and the less well off have to obey.”
“Yeah. Then she grew up and the kool-aid doesn’t work anymore. Any possible consequences…to us.?”
“How? She contacted us. I also told the girl we rescued she could either come forward on her own or pretend it was all a bad dream. I explained that we found his handwritten diary of events, there’s no escape for him, if she kept silent she wouldn’t be an eternal ‘victim’ who got away. It’s her call, she hasn’t popped up so far.”
“Porter wasn’t rich, she’s not getting a civil suit settlement even if a jury gives her one. He can’t pay it now and certainly not sitting in prison for life. Unless she wants media attention. I don’t see how her short horrid experience fills a book, but I suppose a ghostwriter could stretch out the pages with unrelated filler and the other murders. Did you reply…to Casper?”
“Yep, short and sweet, ‘glad to assist, if we can help down the road you know how to reach us’.”
“Good then, we’re out of it and can shuffle along with the rest of our lives. If our rescue gets talked into being a part of a book about Porter, that’s her decision. She’ll make a few bucks, do TV talk maybe, then the ADHD world, which is practically everybody now that technology rules, will move on.”
There was no way to get details from Porter without fear and pain. If I’d have known about the notebook, then he could have escaped the injuries I inflicted, but I didn’t. I don’t so self-recrimination or second guessing. We caught the killer and saved a life. I can’t do it pretty, neither could Sherlock Holmes.
Elle and Zoe C still take classes at USC, things of interest to them, not on a degree path. When you’re part of a multi-million dollar family, a BA is meaningless, neither of them will ever interview for a job. Natalie graduated in finance, then got her Master’s but declined to pursue a Doctorate for about the same reason. A fair amount of work for a PhD that doesn’t do anything for her. She’s already running a sixty five million dollar business the sole purpose of which is to buy other businesses, and she gets a call a week with a business wanting to be a part of it or an investor wanting the same thing.
Today we’re doing a road trip to our range outside of Barstow. We is Zoe C, Elle and me. Natalie is home with the kids, she doesn’t care about guns, she’s not anti, just no interest. Better for the kids to stay home anyway, we’d have to take Zelda and Burma, logistics are too complicated. 
We drive out, spend the afternoon shooting, hotel and dinner, shoot again the next morning, head back before lunch. It’s a hundred fifty miles, but close to three hours because, you know, LA.
We arrive at three thirty, stopped for a fast food lunch we ate in the car. Say what you want but drive throughs are mightily convenient.
Mickey blasts out of the house, “McKenzie made three thousand today, but let her tell you, I watched her trade, it was fun.”
Zoe C, “And what did you do yesterday and today?”
“Burma and I swam, she loves the pool. Then Natalie spotted me in the gym, I did a three sixty on the uneven bars and a flip to finish, stuck the landing too.”
“You are amazing, I am so proud of you.”
Burma appears and leaps into Mickey’s arms, nuzzles her neck.
McKenzie is by the pool, Zelda at her feet, “Hey Mac, what’s doing.”
“McKenzie made two thousand eight hundred eighty three.”
Zoe C, “You are doing splendidly. By the time you’re an adult you will be floating in money.”
If Mac has an opinion about it, she’s keeping it to herself. I doubt she knows a lot of money from a little. Then I decide it’s relative, a lot to a billionaire is a few million, a lot to a homeless person is twenty bucks.
In the kitchen I lift the lid of the slow cooker…chili, the right kind, no beans, meat is in small chunks, not ground. I spear a piece, when it’s cools a bit I take a bite. 
Damn, that is special, not overwhelmed with chili powder, meat tender as a young girl’s heart, consistency is perfect. I look around in the refrigerator, we have sour cream…aha, she made guacamole.
Natalie comes in, “Smells lovely…she used chuck that was cut into stew meat. She surfed guacamole recipes, found one she liked. I managed to get avocados ready to eat, she did everything else.”
Mac comes in with Zelda, “Cornbread.”
She gets cornmeal from the pantry, lines up the ingredients and makes batter. Into an eight by eight glass pan, stirs in fresh chopped jalapeno, then into a three fifty oven.
Elle, “Wine? No, beer, it’s chili, right?”
Zoe C, “Yep, chips and guac to start, which means tequila.”
Our mini-mex party starts by the pool, we have chili and buttered cornbread inside. 
Zoe C, “Amazing McKenzie, you are the best, thank you for yet another wonderful meal.”
Mickey, “Double for me Mac, I am so stuffed but I couldn’t resist a second bowl and a second cornbread.”
Natalie kisses McKenzie’s lightly freckled cheek, “You are a treasure. Oh, I forgot, she’s got a chess match tomorrow.”
“I thought she decided on Go.”
“I don’t know, the club called, said there’s boy, twelve, apparently a chess prodigy. They asked if McKenzie would play, I asked her, got a noncommittal shrug which generally means okay. She would have said no if she didn’t want to do it at all.”
“What time?”
“Ten. You, me and our chess queen.”
Mickey, “McKenzie will win, she always wins.”
Natalie, “First time for everything, it’s not like she’s playing for money or a prize, she doesn’t care about that.”
McKenzie, “McKenzie will make an herb garden, sister can help.”
Mickey grins, “Mac and I have decided to be sisters, she’s the super smart big sister, I’m the gorgeous one,” she giggles.
“What’s TV tonight girls?”
McKenzie, “Cranky old cop.”
We laugh, she means Inspector Morse, and she’s right.
“Walk Zelda, walk Burma.”
Her mini tribe, Zelda, Mickey and Burma scoot out the door. Zoe C and Elle deal with dishes, pots, utensils, swipe down the cooking surfaces. Natalie and I plop on the couch to load up the show.

Ninety Five

We arrive at the chess club for nine thirty. The bigger hall has people taking places for their matches. Herb Hansen spots us, waves and walks over.
“Hello McKenzie, are you ready for a challenge?”
She doesn’t reply, I step in, “She’s not much for small talk, don’t be offended.”
Hanson smiles, “With what I’ve been called by helicopter chess parents, being ignored is a plus.”
“Her opponent here?”
“Not yet, Mr. Foster is a bit of a…well, let’s just say he thinks he’s keeping his son’s opponents off balance. Show up late, complain about lighting, noise levels, height of the board and the chair, even the time of day.”
“Sounds like a dork.”
“You may say so, I’m required to restrain judgment unless shouting matches begin. 
That happens once a month, we had two dads in a fistfight once, more like a shoving match really, but still.”
I’m reminded of McKenzie’s ability to generate energy through her hands. I suppose it’s done internally, the effects show up through her hands. To the uninitiated McKenzie’s death stare is fairly effective as well. People aren’t quite sure what to make of a slim silent girl with icy blues and zero fear.
“It won’t be a problem, we have no interest in McKenzie becoming competitive, neither does she. The game starts, she plays, she wins, fine, she doesn’t, that’s fine with her too.”
“So she’s lost from time to time.”
“Actually no, but if she ever did, it wouldn’t matter to her. She did get kicked out of an online group because the moderator refused to believe she was a ten year old girl.”
“She get upset?”
“Doesn’t do upset, certainly not about a game.”
Hanson, “Ah, here’s Mr. Foster and Jeff. Jeff, this is your opponent today, McKenzie.”
Daddy Foster, “A girl? And what, nine or ten? You are kidding.”
I know that Foster knows who his son is to play, he’s already trying to mess with Mac’s mind.”
I call his bluff, take a step and put my six four in front of him, “Cut the crap Foster, you know damn well who your boy is matched against,” Foster’s maybe five ten and chunky, bordering on fat.
He blinks up at me, steps back and tells Hanson, “Let’s get started, I need to be out of here by lunchtime.”
The players take their seats, Mac is black, Jeff Jr. has first move with white.
Thirty two moves later, Jeff resigns.
Foster is livid, “That kid doesn’t play chess, she goofs around, she got lucky. Hell, she moves before Jeff Jr. taps the clock.”
“We’ve only chewed up twenty minutes, you want another shot?”
“Goddamn right.”
Hanson, “Language Mr. Foster, there are kids present.”
Foster steams, but shuts up. Instead, he grabs his son by the arm and they go off to one side. We can’t hear, but body language, Foster’s pointed finger poking his son in the chest and tone tell me there are threats involved.
Natalie, “Geez, he sure rags on his son, the child looks near paralyzed.”
Foster storms off towards the restroom, Jeff Jr. stays huddled in the corner. I see McKenzie studying the boy, she walks over to him, says nothing, circles him slowly. She returns to us.
“Father beats boy.”
Natalie, “How do you know honey, are you sure?”
“Father beats boy.”
“Nat, when does McKenzie make up stuff?”
“Never, she doesn’t know how.”
“Back in a minute.”
“Chef…don’t….,” she catches the look in my eye, “never mind.”
I slip to the restroom, Foster’s wiping his hands on a paper towel. I grab his wrist, twist, now his right arm is behind his back, I shove him up against the wall.
“Listen fucker,” I shove his arm further up his back any more and I’ll dislocate his shoulder, “your idea of coaching is not my idea of coaching. And my idea is much better than yours.”
He’s in pain, teeth clenched, he stammers out, “My kid, my decision.”
“Okay, here’s my decision,” I yank his wrist higher until I hear a satisfying POP! That’s his right shoulder coming apart.
I slap my big left hand over his mouth so he can scream silently, then I smash his forehead against the hand dryer, it gives me a satisfying clunk. I spin his to face me, put my right hand on his throat.
He hesitates, I break nose with the palm heel of my free hand, “Wallet fucker.”
He pulls it out, “License.”
He’s fairly dysfunctional but he finds it, I make a mental note of his address.
“I know who you are, I know where you live. My people will be checking on your son. If he gets an unexplained bruise, I swear, I’ll put you in the ground so deep fucking Satan won’t find you. Do you understand?”
I don’t care what he says, he’s too beat up to make sense anyway. I put the fear of Chef in him, he’s right to be afraid.
“Now, you fell down, busted your shoulder and your nose, I showed up to pee, saw you on the floor and helped you. Do you understand?”
He manages a nod. A dislocated shoulder is exquisitely painful, good, he deserves his pain. I half drag him outside, Hanson spots us and runs over.
I tell him my lie, Foster says nothing. 
Hanson looks at me, a half grin, “Poor man, I’ll call 911, thank you for giving him an assist.
“Just a citizen doing his duty.”
Hanson can’t resist a wide smile, “See something, say something, isn’t that the mantra?”
“What I heard.”
While paramedics triage, I tell Nat to give Jeff one of our anonymous phone numbers with the message to call if Foster even threatens him again, and if no one answers to leave a message.
She talks to the boy, he sits and waits for the medics to finish.
“Get this, the boy doesn’t even like chess, he’s good at it because he remembers moves. I told him he never had to play chess again and if his father tried to make him to call. Of course also call if there are threats verbal or physical. Don’t know if he will.”
“We can’t help that.”
I turn and see him talking to McKenzie, at least she’s giving the impression she’s listening. The boy turns his back to her, he raises the hem of his t-shirt.
Natalie, “For fuck’s sake, I’m getting a picture of that,” she scurries over, shot of the boy’s bare back, he turns around, bruised ribs, another click. 
I see her lean down and say something to him, he looks at her for a long time, his lower lip trembles, then tears. Nat hugs him gingerly. The welts came from some days ago, they aren’t fresh, at the yellow stage.
A paramedic comes over, I’m standing with Hanson, “He’ll be fine, dislocated his shoulder, it popped back in fine. His nose will give him trouble, but we patched it up and gave him a painkiller. You friends of his?”
Hanson, “His son plays chess here once in a while, this gentleman,” he nods to me, “helped when he found him on the floor of the restroom.”
The EMT guy looks at me, “Helped huh?”
Natalie is alongside, “Take a look at his son’s back,” she shows him, “now his chest.”
A paramedic isn’t a cop, it’s up to him where to go with this, he looks at the phone again, “Do I need to see the boy, want me to call social services?”
“Up to you, we’re not sticking around to talk to cops.”
He half smiles, “No, lot of questions to go no place. Foster got off easy I’d say, you know, bad fall like that.”
“It’s a dangerous world.”
“I live it every day.”

Ninety Six

We beat a path to Malibu. A few days pass, the police don’t show up. I took a chance dealing with Foster, the chess club manager knows what we look like, he has no name or address that would be useful, but still. He also has a phone number but not one that can be traced to us. At least I won’t be calling my attorney friends to run interference, and I have contacts on the LAPD I could use in a pinch. That’s a different problem, they don’t know me as me, if I had to use them, it would out me. The paramedic saw us as well but I got the distinct impression he could give a damn about what happened or might have happened to Foster.
Natalie, “Looks like I won’t be posting bond for you anytime soon.”
“You wouldn’t be posting it anyway, that’s why I have attorneys.”
“A relief then, it’s hard to stay anonymous when arrested and fingerprinted.”
Zoe C, “You put someone on Foster?”
“Didn’t have to, the paramedic alerted child welfare, which he kind of had to do unless he chose to ignore the boy’s injuries. I’m told by sources that he said he observed the boy who appeared to be in pain and since he was already there he took a look. So far, I wasn’t mentioned and Foster made no complaint, stuck to his story that he slipped.”
Natalie, “He doesn’t want to see you again, or hear of you, or think about you.”
Zoe C, “If he was stupid enough to press charges, I’d have to have a visit and explain how bad an idea that would be. Chef couldn’t do it, not so soon after the…event.”
Natalie, “Glad I’m on everybody’s good side, you people are dangerous.”
“True, be even worse if I sent Elle, she’d love to whittle Foster down to bits and pieces.”
Mickey zips in, she doesn’t do slow, I’ve nicknamed her Rocket, but I don’t call her that, she’s Mic or Mickey to us.
Mickey, “Take a second and give me a listen.”
The intro is something I remember, can’t put a name to it, then…the funky piano beat, with, get out of town, McKenzie playing the cowbell, and integral part of the song.
‘Conjure woman by the railroad tracks, she burn a candle on me, for a fact
Create illusion and gang of confusion…don’t know just where I’m at..I say…
I been hoodood….I been hoodood..’
Zoe C, Elle, and Nat start dancing, it’s a great booty shake song.
‘you do hoodoo you…you burn your candle on me..’
It’s jaw dropping, an eight year old girl that sounds exactly like Dr. John, and McKenzie singing backup. I had no idea she could carry a tune.
It’s a three plus minute song, to the best of my recollection of the original, she didn’t miss a note.
She wraps to applause and whistles, Elle can whistle loud enough to crack and eardrum, hugs for Mickey and McKenzie, who almost smiles.
“Mickey, where in hell did you find that song…never mind, youtube.”
“Yeah, I love to go surfing through the oldies, well, from the eighties up, but I made an exception for this one, it was in seventy three…a thousand years ago.”
“I wasn’t born until eighty five, the girls are ten-twelve years younger than me.”
Elle, “I never heard it before, it’s fun to listen and dance to. You gotta come up with some more funk.”
“I want to learn boogie piano, Dr. John is a master, there are others. But I don’t have a piano.”
Natalie, “Pianos are easy, go someplace and buy one.”
Mickey’s smile is like a halogen light, “I can get a piano, the real deal?”
“You’ve demonstrated your commitment with only a keyboard. You have earned a piano if that’s what you want.”
Mickey tears up, “I…”
“Don’t say anything, you earned it. A baby grand should do.”
“And I can use the keyboard for drums, bass guitar, a few other instruments. Plus I have McKenzie, she’s focused and she likes a good beat.”
Not sure how she knows what McKenzie likes, then I realize what Mickey has already understood, that if Mac doesn’t like doing something, she doesn’t do it.
Elle, “What’s dinner Chef?”
I point to the big pot, “Seafood gumbo, shrimp, oysters, crabmeat and we threw in the crab body which they call the thorax, it adds flavor and the meat inside is delish. McKenzie threw in a dozen new potatoes and we’ll have warm French bread to butter up and dip. Dessert is cheesecake with sour cream topping.”
“Damn, I got stone lucky meeting Zoe C, I’ll be sure to thank her extra special tonight.”
“You thank her anymore and she’ll never leave the bedroom.”
Elle crosses one lusciously taut leg over the other lusciously taut leg. I don’t do coy, I enjoy. Oh that she was straight, but she’s not, lucky Zoe C.
Zoe C, ‘Don’t forget Natalie, she lucks out frequently too.’
While I don’t get to play with Elle and Zoe C, I do get to shamelessly ogle, they don’t mind. I don’t make moves, don’t suggest, like wanting to watch, that would be tacky and pointless. 
Speaking of, Natalie comes from upstairs, “Question for Chef, all of you actually. I got a call from a spinster aunt in Indiana. We aren’t close, I know her as a distant relative, no family beef, we just never lived in the same town or even the same state. In the last few years we exchanged holiday greetings, that’s about it. That’s just background, the current dilemma is a six year old boy, blind from birth. His birth parents gave him up for adoption, they couldn’t cope. The soon to be adoptive parents were killed in a plane crash, private plane. The man was a pilot, small stuff, single engine kind of flying.”
Zoe C, “Geez, what about the boy?...oh…I get it.”
“Get what?” I ask, then it dawns on my slower consciousness, “He needs a place to go.”
Natalie, “What do you think?”
They all look at me, well, not all, Mac and Mickey are out with the animals.
“Everyone lives here, it’s fine with me but not entirely my decision. Are there issues beyond blind?”
“No, he can hear, talk, pretty good at self care but still learning, any six year old is still learning hygiene and social graces. She sent a photo.”
The boy is a generic boy, slim, well groomed, his hair is long but not untidy.
“Think it over girls, whatever you decide is good by me.”
Zoe C, “What about our kids?”
“Good point, you should ask them, they live here too.”
When the twp sprites return, Natalie tells them what she told us, “He needs a place with people who can understand, maybe help, to navigate his life as a blind person.”
Mickey looks to McKenzie, she’s rocking slowly, a sign she’s cogitating.
“Help boy.”
Mickey, “Same for me.”
“Then Natalie and you two need to fly to…where in Indiana?”
Natalie, “Evansville, population a hundred twenty thousand.”
“When do you want to go?”
“Spinster aunt is kind, but has no capacity to deal with a six year old child, much less a blind one.”
“Make arrangements.”
“Are you coming?”
“I think not, like not overwhelm him, but if you want me along I’m happy to go.”
“I’ll call Blue Sky, we can go in the morning. You make a good point, Zoe C or Elle, Mickey and me.”
Elle, “I’m good with either, you want to go Zoe C?”
Zoe C, “I’m in, three of us is enough.”

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