Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheese Mammich

Val dug in his backpack and pulled out all of his Hot Wheels, lining them up carefully. The winter sunlight poured in through the large windows and the room was pleasantly warm. He dug around in his backpack some more and pulled out the small radio and his secret bag of chips.

Scooching closer to the fire, rocking and watching the dancing flames, he chirped and munched on his chips, carefully eating only half the bag, then folding it closed to keep the rest safe for his baby sister.

My baby sister!” he told Bertram the tiger importantly. Bertram sat on the padded bench, slumped against an arm, his keen plastic eyes dancing in the firelight.

Fire too hot, no touch it,” Val told Bertram. “Burn you. Not safe.”

He rocked a little more, chirped a little more.

I find Robbie Rocket,” he said confidentially to the stuffed tiger. He flipped on the radio, breathing a sigh of relief when it came on, even if it was only static. Val was not able to replace batteries; he understood the concept, but had trouble getting the battery hatches open and lining the batteries up correctly. “Robbie Rocket, I talking you.”

Val went back to his Hot Wheels. His favorite, the helicopter, had important jobs to do flying over all the other cars. Leah tried to catch the helicopter as he flew it around, and he laughed.

Like Godzilla,” he told her, petting her head affectionately.

He poured some of his cup of water into the cats cup on the floor and drank the rest. He scooted over to the wall and laboriously levered himself up to a standing position. “Need help walking!” he yelled, but no one answered, so he walked very carefully leaning against the wall, then clinging to furniture, until he was sitting on the edge of the bed his mother slept on. He patted her.

Needa pee.”

She didn't respond.

Mama, needa potty now.” He shook her. “Mama!”

This time she snapped awake, startled. When woken suddenly, she tended to jerk sideways with a look of terror on her face, this was no different.

Mama, you so silly,” Val chuckled.

What's up, little man?” she asked groggily, working herself into a sitting position beside him.

Needa potty now. Please.”

Number one or number two?”

Mumber pee.”

She dragged the chamberpot out from beneath the commander's bed and helped him stabilize in a crouching position to use it.

Where is your brother? Where's your sister?” she asked, and he shrugged.

Go to Target, I think,” Val said.

Dammit! They went out, did they?”

Yes. Out the door. Not snowing yet. Snow coming.”

Eve pulled one of the wool blankets around her and slipped her shoes back on, leaving her left shoe untied. “Gonna kill that boy,” she muttered. She pulled herself up on her crutch; her ankle throbbed. “Val, I'm going to make sure your brother and sister are still inside the Fort. I want you to stay away from the fires, and find some place to play safely. You can play in here, or you can play in the parlor, just be warm and don't touch the fires, ok?”

Eye-formsitive!”  Val saluted.

Will had finally managed to extract the wheelchair from where it had fallen and become stuck to the ground, covered in a dusting of snow. He dragged it backwards up the stairs with one hand, holding the iron-topped hoe with his other hand. It was a much slower process than he'd have liked, and his back felt like it was crawling with stares.

He kept reminding himself it was full daylight, but the light seemed dimmer today with the white, sheeted sky. He heard nothing, and the silence was crushing. No cars, no people; the highways and sidewalks were silent.

Hoping Kat had seen him approaching the front gate, he knocked very quietly on the smaller inset door. The door swung open toward him to reveal a very angry Eve on the other side.

Mom!” he said, startled, and she held her finger to her lips. He quickly lifted the wheelchair over the high threshold and followed it in, latching the door behind himself.

I am going to murder you,” she said quietly. She turned and started limping back to the house, leaning on her crutch.

Mom, um, you were asleep and Val needs his chair.”

She whipped around to stare him down, fierce and terrible.

William Edward Aubrey... if you EVER step foot out of this fort again without letting me know where you're going, what you're doing, and when you'll be back, I will find you, and I will murder you, and then I will drag your dead ass back here and I will GROUND it FOREVER.”


Not ONE word. You have no idea how upset I am. I understand things have changed, and I get you'll have to go do things I hate, things that are dangerous. And I can't always go with you because there must always be one adult here for Katrin and Val.” She turned started limping toward the house again, ire apparent in even every strand of her currently unbrushed hair.

Mom,” Will said, catching up, pushing Val's chair. “I'm sorry.” She turned again and pulled him into a tight hug.

I love you, you nerd. Don't make a mother worry.”

He hugged her back, heard her fight off her sniffles, and she let him go. They walked together more slowly this time.

Val has a chamberpot for you. It's in my room.”

Aw!” Will groaned. “Wait, here, push his chair for balance.” She sat in it instead, moving it with her right foot and rolling the wheel with her left hand, her crutch on her lap. He ran back to the hospital ward and picked up one of the chair-like commodes, carrying back to the house behind Eve.

Val chirped to have his chair back. Will put the commode in the children's room for Val to use as needed. “There's bathrooms, modern toilets, in the barracks,” he remembered. “We can flush them with buckets of water. But if you can't get out in your chair, Val, here's a potty for you.”

Val gave him a thumbs up, then a pinky. He settled himself happily in his chair and rolled around the house.

Hungry, mama,” he yelled as he sailed around.

Go down into the kitchen and see what pots you can find. I can make grilled cheese if there's a frying pan,” Eve said to Val's siblings.

I love cheese mammich!” Val yelled.

Will and Katrin went out the back door of the house, down the stairs, and into the basement. Katrin flipped her lantern on so Will could raid the pantry. He loaded his huge basket up with a couple of pans, some bowls, and more blankets that were stored in a closed shelf.

While Eve cooked a late lunch over the fire, using a three legged cast iron pot as a stable raised surface, Will crouched beside her chair and said “I need to go out and get us more food. I can go back to the marina and get our supplies, even see if any of the houseboats left behind have anything.”

Nope. Not today, you can't. It'll be dark or storming by the time you get back.”

We will be out of food,” Will said.

Go to the Visitor's Center then. See what's up at the gift shop. It's closer. And I can watch from the top of the Round Tower. Lunch first. Don't you piss me off twice in one day.”

Ok, ok,” Will said, his hands up in capitulation.

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