Ramona Blessing pressed the answering machine button for the ninth time in half again as many days as she looked out the window to her little, bare, snow-dappled patio. The message was the same as it had been the past eight times, with a few variations, for it seemed that at least three different people were leaving the same message. All for the same person, who she did not know, for, as she lived and breathed, she lived alone. Had for years, needed to, to get her articles done. Writing was a solitary business, and that was the way she liked it. Women’s issue, travel tips, dining out, ghost writing, editing, whatever was called for. She was hooked up with a writer’s network in the city, got her assignments by e-mail and sent them back the same. Her tri-level condo was set up for just this purpose, and what she didn’t need was to have to deal with this shit.
The machine beeped and played back the last message: “This is a message for John Winchester, case number 544955-F, from Denver Social Services. We have your sons Dean and Sammy. We picked them up at the Golden Buff Motel in Boulder because the manager complained that they’d been on their own for several days. We’ve had them for a week. If you don’t come pick them up by the end of the business day on the 19th, we will put them each out to foster care, and you will have to go to court to get them back. Our foster care set up is such that they will each go to a different set of foster parents. Please call….”
Ramona turned off the message. She’d heard it eight times already, and the message was always the same. As was the phone number, which she’d called five times, and which had been either busy or rang unanswered. Today was the 19th.
Sighing, she dialed the number again, got the busy signal, again, and hung up with more force than was called for. Social Services were creators of red tape, purveyors of bad and sloppy customer service, and notoriously cold-hearted when it came to families. She looked out the window with her hand on the phone.
It was an old-fashioned phone, with only the simplest of push-button numbers and no call waiting or call anything. The answering machine was the only nod to the needs of her job, for she didn’t have a cell phone either. Couldn’t abide the thought of being hooked up 24/7, and refused to get one. The answering machine, yes, though, at times like these, she wished she didn’t have one. Otherwise, as she filled a glass with water and drank it, she would not now be wondering who the hell John Winchester was and why the hell he would leave his two boys to the mercies of a government agency masquerading as a caring, parental figure. Not that she was anything of a parental figure herself, having no kids and no pets so that she could be free to travel wherever the articles took her. Or stay up late and have pizza for breakfast if she felt like it. Living the life she did not imagine that parents led.
There was only one thing for it. She was going to have to drive down to Denver. Today. And tell them to leave her alone. Leave her the hell alone and go find John Winchester somewhere else. Which would leave the boys, faceless boys of unknown ages, Dean and Sammy, to sink or swim. She pulled her coat and scarf over her jeans and sweatshirt and grabbed for her keys and purse. Some things just had to be dealt with or they would never go away.
Driving to Denver on a cool October afternoon was not as bad as driving downtown in the heat of July or August. Yes, she had air conditioning in her car, but refused to use it, preferring to have her windows down and let the fresh air cool her. Since downtown Denver did not have fresh air in August, she avoided it at all costs. In October, with a fine mist preceding potential snowfall, the heater worked fine, and she left her back windows open for fresh air anyway.
It took her about an hour to get there, traffic going downtown almost non-existent, and found parking by some whim of fate. The air scurried around her sneakered feet and whipped her hair around her face as she got out to look at the tall, grey building and sighed again. She really didn’t have time for this, didn’t want to take time. Wanted the wrong number corrected on somebody’s paperwork, and wanted to get back to her article about zoos. How lions and tigers should be kept on preserves and in wide open spaces. One animal at a time, the magazine had told her, and we’ll get them all set free. The research was interesting and the article long; she wanted to bury herself in it. And not be opening the cold, metal door to a tall building no one should have to enter.
“I’ve come about a case,” she told the first receptionist.
She gave the case number, unbuttoned her coat, and folded back her scarf. And then was told to go up to the fifth floor.
“I’ve come about a case,” she told the second receptionist. Waited while she took off her scarf and tucked it in her purse. Then took off her coat in the overheated building and folded it over her arm. Then she was directed to a third receptionist on the third floor, which was, thankfully, a little cooler, but still warm. Energy crisis? What energy crisis?
When she told the third receptionist why she was there and what she wanted, the third receptionist dialed a number on her phone, and then barked the case number into it, and then hung up with a slam, glaring at Ramona as if it was all her fault. Ramona wanted to tell her to get a different job if she hated this one so much, but the woman turned away and started typing fast and hard on her computer.
“Ma’am —” started Ramona, but the woman stopped her by slamming both hands on the palm rest of her keyboard.
“The boys will be out in a minute, can’t you wait?”
“Ma’am, I can wait, but I don’t want—”
“I have a call coming in.”
The phone rang promptly at that moment, and out of the corner of her eye, Ramona saw two boys carrying backpacks being trundled in behind her.
Ramona made herself wait until the receptionist got off the phone. Then she began to speak slowly and clearly and loudly in the voice she usually reserved for the stupid and the dull, which, thankfully, in her line of work, she didn’t encounter very often.
“Your establishment has been leaving messages for John Winchester on my phone about his sons. You’ve called him nine times, but he doesn’t live with me, and as hard as I tried to call back and give you the case number—”
“We have the case number,” the receptionist assured her.
“I know, but what I’m trying to say is that John Winchester doesn’t live—”
“Dad’s on a hunting trip, don’t you remember, Aunt Sissy?”
This voice came from behind her, and Ramona whirled around to look down at the upturned face of a boy of about ten, maybe eleven years of age. He was ordinary looking, except for two large round eyes, which in the funky lights of the office, looked brown. Freckles and short hair was all she saw as she turned back to the receptionist, wondering who the hell Aunt Sissy was.
“I don’t think Mr. Winchester would like me taking his boys,” said Ramona, her voice rising in a way she did not like.
“They’re yours to take, unless you want them to go into foster care.”
It was on the tip of Ramona’s tongue to ask if the woman was threatening her or the boys, when she felt the small, warm curve of fingers slip into her palm.
“Can’t you take us home now, Aunt Sissy,” said the boy again. “Sammy doesn’t like it here. The beds are hard and the food makes him cry.”
“Sammy?” asked Ramona, looking down at him, thinking that he must think that she was his Aunt Sissy.
Then the boy distracted her by pointing to the row of chairs where another boy, younger by some years, sat on one of the hard, curved plastic seats. He had a backpack on his lap and one at his feet. Sneakered feet that were swinging from side to side. He seemed to be humming to himself, bobbing a head full of dark flyaway hair. If that was Sammy, then the boy with his hand in hers must be Dean. Sammy and Dean Winchester, suddenly no longer ageless or faceless. Fatherless, still, though, and she did not know what to think.
The boy, Dean, tugged at her hand, looking up with those wide eyes. “Please?” he asked, his voice cracking a little. “Dad’ll come get us soon, Aunt Sissy. And we won’t be any trouble, I promise. Dad wouldn’t like it if we went into foster care.”
It was a mouthful for such a little guy; most boys that age had almost nothing to say that wasn’t surly or foolish. Or maybe it was that she knew so few boys.
She hesitated, not quite sure she wanted to be this Aunt Sissy. It wasn’t stealing children from the arms of an institutional monster that bothered her. Well, maybe it was a little, but mostly it was the care and feeding of two boys for who knew how long. Girls maybe, that she could have handled. This wasn’t a gentle looking boy either, there was not a bookish expression on his face, only tattered sneakers with one toe poking out, worn jeans, and a t-shirt that sagged.
“Where is your coat?” she asked. It was October after all and boys should have coats.
Again Dean pointed. Sammy was sitting on what looked like two of them, using them as cushions.
“Can we go now?” asked Dean.
His eyes flashed green then, with a glitter as if the sun had struck them, and she watched as he looked at his brother, and it was then that she had a glimpse of something about this pair. The older brother wanted out, but he wasn’t asking for himself. He was asking for Sammy.
“Okay,” she said, feeling herself fill with a sense of purpose. It would be like an assignment for a new magazine. Some of the rules she knew, some guidelines she would follow up on. Everything would fall into place. Just like her articles did. And she couldn’t leave them in this over-heated building. Not with this rat-faced woman in charge of them. Their future. She would take the children and worry about the legalities of it later. “Get your coats on, it’s still winter outside, even if it’s summer in here.”
Dean gave a yelp and let go of her and practically leaped at his brother to help him off the coats and into one of them. Ramona signed paperwork, scrawling her signature any old how, not liking the feel of the cheap pen on thin paper, and turned to see the two boys, standing waiting. Hand in hand, coats and backpacks on, and side by side, looking like ragamuffins from the old books about orphans in the street. Thin shoes, thin jeans, t-shirts that could do with a wash. Faces a little grey. At least the coats looked new, though, by the looks of their puffy crispness, those had come from a gift box.
“To the car, then,” she said, retying her scarf around her neck and feeling for her keys in her pocket.
They followed her like ducks, Sammy right behind her, Dean behind him. They were silent the entire way out to the car, which was a little unnerving in the elevator. For all three floors the boys had their mouths shut. Then, when the doors finally opened on the first floor, they both let out a gasp, and she realized they’d been holding their breath. As she opened the tall, steel doors that led to the street she had to know.
“What was that all about?”
“We held our breath so we wouldn’t get stuck,” said Dean. His response was matter of fact, as if the breath-holding for a purpose was something that everyone did.
“Yeah,” said Sammy, in a bright, high voice. “It’s like magic. You hold your breath and they won’t see you.”
“No, Sammy,” said Dean. “It’s you hold your breath and they won’t stop you. Get it right
Did parents laugh at their own children when they were funny? Ramona didn’t know, so she was somber as she unlocked the doors to her car. Dean helped his brother in the back seat and then after he’d buckled the younger boy in, climbed into the front seat. He left his seatbelt undone, so Ramona pointed at the unused buckle with her keys and waited. Dean buckled himself in, and Ramona started the car.
As the engine warmed, she thought about it. Then she said, “I’m not leaving you at the motel if your dad’s not there, so you can get that right out of your head. We’ll leave a message for your dad and he can come get you. Yes?”
Dean nodded at her, his eyes dark again. As she pulled out into traffic, she could feel feet kicking the back of the seat.
"Knock it off, Sammy,” said Dean, his voice hard. Then she felt him looking at her again. “You don’t mind?” he asked.
"Mind?” she asked back, taking Speer to the highway. There were all sorts of things she minded, especially being downtown, which she did not like. The comfort, however, of an hour’s drive on a crisp afternoon, headed out of town, with the city fading behind her in her rearview mirror, was a good one. “What do you mean?” she asked now. She wanted clarification.
“I lied,” he said. It was an honest answer, if short.
“Yes, you lied. You called me your aunt, which I’m not.”
“Yeah. But I had to get Sammy out of there.”
She heard it in his voice even if he didn’t say it: Doncha see?
Ramona looked in her rearview mirror at the aforementioned Sammy. He was in the seat behind Dean, buckled in, his thin arm holding both backpacks in an embrace as they sat on the seat beside him. Keeper of the backpacks was obviously his job, just as being the keeper of the little brother was Dean’s. Unlike his brother, he had a spray of dark hair that went everywhere, a long, thin, serious face, and the darkest brown eyes. Or maybe they were only dark in the late-afternoon spread of light as the clouds came down. He didn’t look much like his brother, who was more compact, and who had a litter of freckles across his nose. As Sammy saw her looking at him, he smiled. A closed-mouth smile, though, but then, he smiled with his eyes as well as his face. She smiled back. It was rather like investigating the facts for an article. The more you found out, the easier it got to write about.
“Which motel was it, then, that they grabbed you from?”
She directed this at Dean, focused her attention on the onramp to I-25 headed north, and almost didn’t hear him answer.
“The Golden Buff Motel. In Boulder. It’s on a main street.”
She knew Boulder from her college days. The Golden Buff was a landmark motel that used to be on the edge of town along Highway 36 as it headed north into the mountains. Now, it was at the center of a bustling shopping area. Very chi-chi as she recalled. The motel, for all that, was still sided by old-fashioned cedar. Still family run. Still staffed by local college students. When you stayed there, you got breakfast coupons to the local diner. This made her think of something else.
“When did you boys last eat?”
A small silence followed this, and since her car knew the way to Boulder almost as well as she did, she spared Dean a glance, and then Sammy, in the rearview mirror. Both boys were silent. She just hoped they weren’t holding their breaths. As she made the large, wide curve that was the ramp from I-25 to Highway 36, she waited. Waited while the car straightened out and started pulling up the grade as the road headed towards the mountains.
“Sammy?” she asked. “Can you tell me when you boys last ate?”
“Sammy,” said Dean, with a snap that was a warning.
“I was…bad,” said Sammy faltering for a second as he seemed to dodge the sound of his brother’s voice. His explanation had more resignation than remorse, as if he were saying, well, what can one expect of one so young? “I didn’t want to stop playing, and then they wouldn’t let me have lunch. Then Dean argued with the lady and they wouldn’t let him have lunch either, so…”
“I stole some crackers, Aunt Sissy,” said Dean. As if this would reassure her.
“And that old apple, remember, Dean?”
An old apple and some crackers. She couldn’t close her eyes while driving, but she wanted to. She wanted to close her eyes and curse. Maybe scream. Maybe hit something. Maybe hit some lady in an institutional-grey apron refusing food to small and growing boys.
“You boys want to stop for some fast food?”
As she topped the last hill, the brown-treed spread of Boulder hove into sight. Highway 36 turned into 28th street, where the Golden Buff was. A few more lights and they would be there. Maybe John Winchester would be there, too, waiting for his boys. This thought made her wonder what he was hunting, exactly. Turkey? Deer? She didn’t know, not having written for any hunting magazines.
There was another small silence that had her puzzled as she stopped at a red light. Then Dean said, “Fast food is crap.”
“How about some pizza when we get to my place? We can order pizza, any flavor you want.” Boys loved pizza, this she knew.
“No pizza,” announced Sammy, piping up in the back seat, as if sure his opinion carried some weight.
“No pizza?” she asked. “Then what do you want to eat?”
“Macaroni and cheese,” said Sammy. She heard Dean sigh, as if he’d heard this response too many times to count. “Made by scratch.”
scratch, you mean?” she asked, thinking of the leftover vat of the stuff that she had. Her mother was of the opinion that Ramona couldn’t or wouldn’t cook, and so, came by every week to drop off the essentials. One of which was homemade macaroni and cheese. She kept her mouth shut and did not smile.
“Yeah, from scratch, you know, homemade. He likes it that way,” said Dean. He sounded as though he were apologizing. “We kinda eat pizza a lot.”
She pulled into the black-topped parking lot of the motel, and let Dean point her to the right spot. Then she got out, released Sammy, who took her hand and held on tight. Dean took out a pair of keys and unlocked the door and they all trundled in to the room. As Dean snapped on the lights, there was enough evidence to tell the story of this particular motel. The walls had peeling paint, and there was an old smell of mold.
“Dad’s gonna be mad cause we’re not here,” said Sammy.
“We’ll leave a note,” said Ramona, giving his hand a tug. “I didn’t realize this place was so run down.”
“It’s okay,” said Dean. His shoulders made a shrug that seemed to make him older, and then he looked up at her, and was once again young. “You sure you don’t mind?”
Dean didn’t want to stay here without his dad, that was obvious. Sammy didn’t seem in any hurry to let go of her hand either, and it struck her at that point, as maybe it had all the way into town, how odd it was that the two boys would go so willingly with someone they did not know. Sure, to get out of that grey-walled hell, but now? They were standing as close as they could, staring at the walls as if they weren’t planning on leaving her side any time soon, and then she saw what their eyes were looking at. The motel room didn’t have peeling paint. The walls were covered with pictures. Bits of colored string led from one picture to the other. Maps covered one wall, charts another. She stepped towards one picture, and backed away quickly, shuddering. It looked like a picture of a ghoul, with huge teeth in an open mouth. She guessed she was lucky the picture wasn’t in color, and wondered what kind of man would plaster a motel room with those kinds of pictures when he had kids with him. Maybe Social Services had been right to take the boys.
“Um, Dean, is there some paper I could write on?”
He jumped to get her what she wanted, holding paper out to her, grabbing a pen. She was reminded of the poem by Walt Whitman at that moment, as he fetched pieces of paper to her with full hands, outstretched, his eyes wide, wanting to please. She took the paper and pen from him, handed her purse to Sammy, tried to ignore the weird pictures on the walls, and began to write: “Dear Mr. Winchester, I picked your sons up from Social Services in Denver to keep them safe and from going into foster care. I live in Longmont where you can come get them. Please call me.”
Then she added her phone number, signed her name, with more of a flourish than she had in the city, and recapped the pen.
“I wanna go
,” said Sammy. His hand tucked itself into hers again.
“Sammy,” said Dean. It sounded like a warning.
“But I do
“Okay, boys, into the car.”
She took her purse from Sammy, and guided him with her hand to the back seat. Dean locked the motel room behind them, and then buckled his brother in once again. When they were all fastened and locked, and the engine was warming, she turned to Dean in the seat beside her.
“What, exactly, is your father hunting, Dean?”
Oh, the silences those eyes could produce, rather like a serious pause in a full-orchestra concert by Mozart, who surely never put in pauses by accident.
“He can’t tell you and neither can I,” said Sammy, in a sorrowful way that told her that he really, really wished they could. “It’s a secret.”
One she did not want to know. Swallowing a mouthful of wanting to shout, she pulled out onto 28th street, and headed north so she could catch the Diagonal to Longmont. It started to snow then, as it always did when she hit the Diagonal. Snow snakes danced on the concrete, and she turned on her wipers. She let the silence carry them all the way home, as if she didn’t care that their father was a reprobate who not only left them alone for far too many days, but who also, by the looks of the room, engaged in activities that weren’t healthy for children. Not that she actually knew what was healthy for children, for though she’d once been a child, that was in the long ago, and in the now, she had very little experience with them.
The boys were quiet for the whole drive, and by the time she pulled into her narrow garage at the back of the condo, she was hungry. She imagined they were too, especially after having nothing for lunch but cracker and apple. She pressed the button tucked against the sunshade, and as the garage door slowly shut behind them, she turned off the engine and said, “Everybody out, last stop, Aunt Sissy’s.” Her mouth enjoyed the feel of the name, the taste of it somewhat sprightly and new.
The boys got out, banging the car doors against the sides of the garage, but she did that herself every so often, and there was no helping it, the garage was just that narrow. She unlocked the door to the patio and then the door to the house, and ushered the boys in just as the snow began to fall in earnest. That was Colorado for you. The snow teased and fooled around on you and then, come sunset, it came down hard. Right on schedule.
She shut the door behind them all and locked them in against the cold. The boys, coats still on, backpacks hanging on their hands, looked at her. Right. She was in charge.
“Shoes off, backpacks over there, coats on that chair. Who wants to turn on the fire?”
Both boys did as she asked and then were jumping up and down, and she led them to the unobtrusive switch.
“Sammy,” she said. After all, he was the youngest.
“No,” said Sammy, shaking his head. “Dean likes fire best.”
She blinked. “That’s awfully nice, Sammy. Dean, you go ahead.”
Dean flipped the switch, his eyebrows rising as the gas flames leaped to life. There was almost no sound except for the hiss of the gas through the pipes, but as the orange and blue flames leaped around the fake logs, at least it looked real.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Dean, looking at the fire as though he wanted to sink down beside it.
“No, it’s pretty warm, Dean,” said Sammy, sniggering.
Now Dean laughed, smiling for the first time that day, looking up at her as if to say thank you for that
as his eyes flickered green.
“Now,” she said, going back to take off her own coat and shoes and heap them on the piles, “who’s hungry?” She wiped her hands on her jeans.
They followed her like ducklings into the long, narrow kitchen, looked out the window at her snow-covered patio that shone white in the outdoor light, and watched as she opened the fridge. Out came the cellophane-wrapped white bowl, and as she laid it on the counter, Dean gasped.
“How did you—?”
She shrugged. “Leftovers.”
It was definitely more fun to cook, or rather, reheat, for three instead of one, especially when Dean was so willing to be helpful. She gave him dishes to set the table, instructed him to wash his hands and to make sure Sammy washed his. The boys were eager and quick to do as she asked, and the smell of the macaroni and cheese heating in the microwave was more delicious than it otherwise might have been.
“Can you pour the milk?” she asked Dean as she exchanged the mac and cheese for some slabs of meatloaf in the microwave.
“Now, salt and pepper, butter and bread.”
Dean did this, handing the salt to Sammy with a snicker, and carrying everything else himself.
It took her three trips to bring in all the food, which covered the little farm table that sat in the corner as it had never been covered. Macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, green beans (frozen and hastily heated on the stove because shouldn’t children have vegetables?), and tall, cool glasses of milk.
She served each boy what she could reach, warned about the hot dishes, and Dean served Sammy and then himself, last, she noted, and then they tucked into the food. This was something she had not known, how boys could eat. Oh, well, sure, she knew they could eat, but it was different seeing it with her own eyes. They had appetites, and it wasn’t from simply being hungry either, she had a feeling. As Sammy shoveled in spoonfuls of his favorite, as Dean slugged back almost an entire glass of milk before pouring himself more, she remembered the tone of Dean’s voice as he told her that his brother likes it that way. He probably liked it himself that way. Liked the homemade kind of food that living in a motel did not afford them. And any boy who was tired of pizza, well, it was a sad state of affairs in her book.
They filled their plates twice to her once, and as they ate, she watched them. They ate fast, like young animals at a feeding spot in the wild. Almost looking over their shoulders, but not. Both boys held silverware curled into their fists, rather than tipped back against their fingers like people might hold a pen. They ate one-handed, leaving the other hand free as if it might be needed to do something. Sometimes Sammy used his free hand to scoop more macaroni and cheese onto his spoon, wiping his fingers on his jeans after, but mostly he ate like his brother did. Huge mouthfuls, mouths open, unaware of anything except the eating. They could not be blamed for this, and she did not let herself do it. Thought instead of the absent father and what did she have in the fridge that was sweet. Something boys would like.
“Uh, I’ve got ice cream,” she said, when they finally looked like they were slowing down, thinking of the unopened vat of chocolate ice cream she had in the freezer. And the chocolate syrup that she sometimes liked to drink straight.
Dean’s eyebrows flew up in a way that told her right away that he was an ice cream lover. He had to chew and swallow, cheeks bulging, before he could actually say anything.
“Sammy likes chocolate,” he said, his voice still somewhat muffled by food.
“And what flavor do you like, Dean?” she asked, leaning on her hand to look at him. What a boy this was, to check to see that she had his brother’s favorite in stock, but did not ask for himself. Where had he learned that from?
“Ice cream,” he said, “is my favorite flavor.” Then he gave her a grin, and she could see in a few years time, and maybe sooner than that, that he’d be knocking down the ladies with that smile. And that those selfsame ladies would be lining up to be knocked down.
“I like ice cream,” said Sammy, swallowing and nodding. “I do
, I really do.”
“Well, there’s plenty of it, if you boys could help clear the table. Just bring everything in and place it on the counter.”
The got up, a little slower now with full stomachs instead of empty ones. Dean picked up the bigger bowls while Sammy got the salt and pepper and the butter dish and the now empty bread plate. Ramona concentrated on bringing the plates, scraping them, and putting them in the dishwasher. Dean helped her wrap the leftovers, and put them in the fridge, and by the time they’d finished, she was never so glad to be out of the kitchen. It was a small kitchen and she was used to being in it alone. The boys were good, but they kept bumping into her, and then Sammy tripped over Dean’s feet and bumped hard against the stove. She grabbed him before she could think, checking with one hand that the burners were all off, pulling him behind her with the other.
“Sammy!” said Dean, his voice loud, hands reaching out. “What’s wrong Aunt Sissy?”
“It’s a gas stove, you can’t leave the burners on, and it’s easy to do. They’re off now, though.” She let Sammy go. The little boy looked up at her with huge eyes. It looked like he was about to cry.
“I’m sorry,” he said. He meant it too, she could see that.
“It’s okay, Sammy, you just tripped. The stove is off. Let’s get some ice cream.”
They both looked at her as if she’d rescued them from an awful fate, which seemed out of proportion to the almost-accident that could have happened in anyone’s kitchen. She hid her twinge of unease about the near-miss and Sammy’s tearful eyes as she concentrated on getting out the ice cream and the syrup. She pointed Dean to the cabinet that had the dishes, told Sammy where to get the spoons, and busied herself dishing out huge bowls of ice cream.
“I’ll just have a little,” she said, pouring extra syrup on hers. She’d long ago decided that ice cream was just a vehicle to get the syrup to her mouth. Each boy took a bowl, their eyes wide at the amount in them.
“Shall we sit in front of the TV?” she asked.
“Where is it?” Dean looked around, seeing on only the breakfast area and the kitchen and beyond the little passageway, her living room.
“The TV is downstairs, where it’s nice and quiet and cool. Follow me.”
She led the way down the stairs, wanting to apologize for the clutter of books and filing cabinets, bookshelves, and boxes. It was her sanctum sanctorum
, and though she doubted the boys would understand the meaning of the Latin, perhaps they would feel at home as she did there.
“Don’t spill, Sammy,” Dean said from behind her.
“Two hands for beginners, like Dad said.”
, I said.”
It sounded like an old argument, and she laughed to herself as she put her ice cream down, and looked for the little side table she kept around for them to put their ice cream on. They surprised her by sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the couch and dug into their ice cream, leaving her alone on the cushions, looking for the remote.
okay with you boys? I like the old stuff myself.”
They nodded at her feet, mouths full, still shoveling it in. She clicked the TV on, saw that it was The Trouble
With Tribbles, and figured that was fun enough for them all to enjoy. Or maybe they were just humoring her, thinking that as this was Aunt Sissy’s house they had to watch what she watched and like it. And where did the Aunt Sissy name come from anyhow?
An hour later, they were giggling into their empty bowls and Ramona thought the evening had gone rather well. This babysitting wasn’t so hard, at least not when you had nice kids to look after. She had taken a risk bringing them home; they could have turned out to be holy terrors. But aside from a few pokes and punches that they aimed at each other fighting over the last spoonfuls of ice cream, they were very well behaved. She picked up the remote and flipped through the channels, all the way up and all the way down.
“Was that Mothra
?” asked Dean.
Ramona stopped the clicker. “Yeah, I think so. You wanna watch that?”
“Yeah,” said Dean.
“I don’t like Mothra
,” said Sammy, flinging his bowl down. The spoon bounced out of the bowl and landed to stain the carpet. “It’s creepy
Dean turned to his younger brother and picked up the spoon to replace it in the bowl. “C’mon, Sammy, I wanna watch it. Just for a minute, okay?” This was said with an undercurrent of great longing. “It’s got those little singing ladies you like, remember?”
The little brother apparently knew this tone in his older brother’s voice, for he gave in after one half-hearted whine and settled in to watch the old movie about a huge sea-swimming moth creature that terrorized Japan. The thing apparently came out of a large blue egg as natives danced around it, but didn’t show up till the movie was half over. She really didn’t get it, but both boys were glued to the set. Out of Harm's Way - Part 2