Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Grab yourself a cup of coffee and cuddle with a pillow.
Lots of fluff to make up for past pain.
It wasn’t until sometime around noon when Doc finally woke up.
The kid shouted. He stood as the kid ran up and hugged the Doc.
He hadn’t really paid attention last night, what with… everything.
It was obvious the kid wasn’t blood, it was also obvious- they were mother and daughter. More weirdness.
Doc looked from him, to the toys scattered everywhere, to the holes in the carpet- and gave a tired if not genuine half smile. “Thanks for watching her. I appreciate it.”
He didn’t know what to do with that. He shrugged. She looked at the fireplace surprised and, still holding the kid, sat on the floor in front of the flames, gesturing for him to do the same.
“Where’d you get the wood?” she asked. She sounded happy about it, not like she was suspicious or anything.
“I went out after you went to sleep. We know some good places to get firewood.”
She gave him the same tired half smile.
“Well I appreciate it, a lot, thanks.” She sounded relieved. The kid bounded up and tugged on his sleeve. “Eric, Eric, come show mama how I taught you play!”
“Uh…” He was never at a loss for words before this kid.
“Sharlie,” Doc grabbed the kid and sat her in her lap. “You can show me later, right now I need to talk to Eric. You go play with fox and wolf.”
“Okay.” The kid sounded disappointed. She limped over to the toys and found the two stuffed animals she’d been playing with earlier and began talking to them like they were real. Doc kept her eyes on the kid as she spoke.
“Thanks for keeping her company so I could sleep.”
She turned to face him. Her smile seemed genuine. “I appreciate it.”
She rubbed her eyes and looked at him wearily. She probably could’ve slept a lot longer. “So, you are, Eric?”
“How old are you?”
“And your brother?”
“Nathan, he’s 13.” She nodded, as if that explained something.
“And your last name?” He looked away. “If we had one, we don’t remember it.”
It was a lie, but one he and Nathan would stick to. Neither of them wanted to use their last name. Ever. He felt her gaze on him. He knew she knew he was lying.
She turned and put her scarred hand on Nathans face and neck.
She looked like she was really worried about him.
“The fevers lowered but still there. His body is fighting back.”
“Do you have medicine for that?”
“No. The fever is his body’s way of healing from the trauma. He needs it.
What I’m praying for is that his body will no longer need the fever and that it will break on its own. The fact that he’s not burning up as badly anymore and breathing well tells me he’s already recovering.” She looked off to the side where he’d ripped out the carpet. “Thanks for taking out the blood. Where’d you leave it?”
“I loaded it up into a bunch of plastic bags I found. I have them all in the sink.”
She got up and looked at the exposed floorboards.
“You did a good job on the cleanup. Thanks.”
She sat back between him and Nathan.
“What do I call you?” he asked.
“My name is Siah.”
“Yeah. It’s short for Isaiah. Dr. Isaiah Villalobos.”
She snickered. “Vee- ya- lo- bos.” Even her name was weird. He’d never heard of a girl Isaiah before. She relaxed her arms on her knees and cocked her head at him.
“So how old are you?” he asked defiantly. “33.”
He must have looked as shocked as he felt because she started to chuckle.
“Yeah, so don’t get any ideas boy.” She stretched and popped her back.
“I’m old enough to be your mother.”
“I thought you were like- 25!”
“Oh you’re so sweet.” She giggled and ruffled his hair like he was some little kid.
He was so shocked he only half-heartedly shrugged her off as she smiled at him.
He couldn’t believe how old she was! When he had first seen her he’d thought she was hot! And she was old enough to be his mother! That was just gross!
“So, I’ve been in this town for nearly two years and I’ve never seen you boys before. Where do you live?”
“In an old auto shop. We don’t usually go around in daylight.”
“Hm.” They just sat there in silence for a while. It was a strange kind of silence, like how it’d been when they were eating together. It was calm. She pulled out the fire poker and pushed a piece of wood closer to the flames. The fire licked up and reflecting off the Docs face in an orange glow and she suddenly looked- different, like somehow, less- black. If he looked past the braid wrapped around her head, past the tint of her skin and only at her face- in the firelight, she looked like an Indian. Like a dark skinned Indian. That last name meant she might be part Mexican but that didn’t mean she wasn’t part Indian. He was about to ask her when she broke the silence herself.
“That day you and your brother took out Holsun’s goons, what was that about?”
She didn’t look up from the fire when she spoke. She was so part Indian.
His first instinct was to tell her it was none of her business, but she wasn’t acting scared, and she had covered for them, and it wasn’t like she hadn’t seen them kill those guys.
He decided to tell the truth.
“Me and Nathan blew up a shipment of his drugs.” She turned to him and blinked. “What?”
“He has his guys bring in pills and stuff every month. We overheard when the last shipment was due to come in and blew it up. I don’t know how the one who picked on Nathan found out about it or if he’d even told Holsun, but that was why Nathan stabbed him.” Wide eyed, she just looked at him and blinked again.
“How’d you blow up the truck?” That was her first question?
“Shot out a tire and slid a couple of Molotov cocktails under the engine.”
Why was he telling her all of this? It was like he wasn’t controlling his own mouth, just like last night... She jumped up and hugged him. His upper arms pinned to his sides, he had no idea what to do. Was she laughing? She reached up and grabbed his face.
“Thank You!” Then she hugged him again.
“I would have paid money to have seen that explosion!”
Things got even weirder when the kid jumped in and together they’d hugged him for, like- a minute. That was just weird; he and Nathan barely touched each other.
Finally, Nathan groaned, breaking whatever spell they were trying to cast on him.
He was barely semi- conscious, but the doc insisted they try to feed him some broth. She had him hold up the mat itself to prop him up and slowly, carefully, she spoon fed Nathan the soup. He accepted the broth mechanically, only half awake.
“Don’t try to talk sweetie. Just drink this.” Sweetie? Nathan managed to finish half the bowl before he passed out again. He felt panic rise as his brother went limp.
Doc had put a steadying hand on his arm and looked him in the eye.
“He’s still breathing. He’s okay. Just lay him back the way he was.”
He laid him back down at the same angle as before, only then noticing the print on the pillowcase Nathan was on was the same as the sheets on the doc’s bed.
“I’m glad he was able to take in some liquid. I’m worried about him getting dehydrated.” She sat back on her legs as she felt his face, checked his pulse on his neck, wrists, both ankles and the dressing over his chest.
He decided to make himself useful and took the dirty dishes to the sink, putting the bags of bloody carpet into a larger bag so he could wash the dishes.
He was just propping the dishes on a towel when he felt something.
It was like a charge went through him; it felt like when the Doc had been screaming at him last night before he’d collapsed, only, not, THAT harsh, like that same charge, but, softer.
Stepping into the hallway, he looked to the bedroom. Sure enough, there was only the little girl’s small pillow on the mattress. Doc’d used her own pillow for Nathan.
He turned to the living room and stopped in his tracks. Doc had her scarred hands over a fresh dressing on his brother’s bare chest. Her head was lowered and her eyes were closed. Was she- praying? The little girl was copying her, her eyes closed, her tiny hands on his brothers shoulder. Had that been what he had felt while cleaning the dishes?
Had he felt her praying?
He stayed where he was until she opened her eyes. She pulled the blanket over Nathan, tucking him in and just looked at him. She turned around to face him so suddenly he startled.
“C’mon.” She said. “Let’s cook up some lunch.” She added Nathan’s bloody clothes from the living room trash can to the big bag and had him run it all down to the trash pile at the end of the street. When he came back in through the hatch, the apartment was oddly quiet. Doc was right next to him, casually wiping down the blood smears he’d left on the counter with what smelled like vinegar.
“Where’s the kid?” She seemed amused at his question.
“I put her down for her nap while you were out. She’ll be asleep for about two hours.” He clambered over the kitchen sink and stood next to her. He’d thought she was small when he’d first met her on the street, and he was right. She was tiny.
He was like, a foot taller than her. She looked up and gave a quick, tired smile.
He went to check on Nathan, surprised to see Doc had tied a cloth brace around his neck and right arm. It looked like it was made out of bed sheets.
“It’s to prevent any kind of strain on the injured shoulder.”
She gestured with her chin to the kitchen.
She was so an Indian. She explained they’d make a stew and had him pull out a big, cast iron pot from under the counter. She had him fill it with water from the tap and carry it to the fireplace where she set it on some cast iron contraption over the flames whose wide flat body and long, hinged legs looked way too much like a spider. The thing seemed to hold the weight okay, at least it didn’t wobble. Thing must be more stable than it looked.
He and Nathan lived off of grilled meat, but he’d never tried making a soup like this. They went back to the kitchen and started the, “prep”, work at the tall worktable, him peeling, her chopping the vegetables he’d found earlier.
They weren’t talking or anything, but it wasn’t a tense silence. It was that same weird calm he’d felt around her since morning. Despite the exhaustion in her eyes, she chopped quickly.
He got the hang of the peeling well enough and got to study her a little.
She had thick eyebrows as black as her hair. Her skin was dark copper, a little darker than his but with a reddish hue. It was the angles of her face though, the long low nose, especially the squareness of her jaw, and cheeks, that told him she had to be part Indian. Her hair was blacker than his but not smooth, the thick braid around her head making her look more ethnic. How’d she come to have a little white kid?
He decided to just come out and ask.
“So, how did a black doc adopt a cracker kid?”
Her glare froze him. She’d stopped mid movement, the knife still poised over a carrot. Not letting go of the hilt she plunged the knife deep into the cutting board.
“Never talk about Sharlie like that, do you understand me?”
She spoke with deadly calm. “I will not have her spoken against because of her coloring. She is not a white child, she is a child, she is my child and she deserves love as much as any other. Is that clear?” She wasn’t asking. She stared him down, actually waiting for an answer. He swallowed his pride. “Yeah.”
“Good.” She took the knife out of the board and began chopping again. He looked at where she’d stabbed the cutting board, it had gone deep. He began peeling again.
She’d just been picking up the vegetables as he’d finished with them but he began rolling them to her; in his own little way, a piece offering. She took them, but it wasn’t the same. The air was thick with tension now. She hadn’t been looking at him before as she’d chopped but now it felt like she was deliberately avoiding eye contact with him.
It was so unlike the calm he had known since he’d woken up this morning.
This wasn’t even the tension he was used to; this was a dis- ease that made him feel like throwing up. Why couldn’t he have kept his mouth shut? How was he supposed to know she was so touchy about the kids coloring? He cursed himself. He should’ve just kept his mouth shut- “Sharlie was almost taken from me before.”
He snapped his head up. She was still for a moment.
“When the Great Wave hit the South, I was there.”
He’d heard about it, that huge tsunami that had hit the Gulf Coast when that meteor that had hit the Atlantic Ocean. The thing had triggered earthquakes and tsunamis that had torn apart half the world. The waters had never fully receded and to this day several states were mostly underwater. She was there when it happened?
She chopped the last potato, setting it aside with the rest of the vegetables.
She took a seat in the same chair as this morning and gestured for him to do the same.
He did. She didn’t look at him as she told the story of how she’d gotten Sharlie. Wow.
So that was how her hands had been slashed.
She’d had those scars as long as she’d had the kid.
Her eyes looked haunted. “It was obvious I wasn’t Sharlie’s natural mother, but still, no one ratted me out. Looking back on it, I think the MP’s who were patrolling the place were turning a blind eye. Then one day I had to call emergency services.
When it was over, one of the officers actually accused me of kidnapping.
I never let go of Sharlie as I told them what’d happened. They checked security footage to confirm my story.”
“Thank God for that camera.” She muttered.
“That same officer, who’d accused me, softened up a lot after seeing the footage. He told me there was a place for misplaced children in the shelter and offered to take her there. I turned him down, but I did go see it later. I’d been thinking I should find somewhere where she would be properly taken care of, that Sharlie wasn’t really my responsibility, it wasn’t as if I’d asked to suddenly become a single mother, but when I went to that place- It was just a big room, lined with cots. There were maybe 30 children there, some babies, some twelve year olds.
It wasn’t a horrible place, but, there were only about 4 adults I saw taking care of all those children. All they could really do was keep them fed, maybe changed- nothing more. I couldn’t leave her there.” She looked up at him. Her eyes were shiny.
“If I left her somewhere, who would tell her how brave her mother had been?
Who would tell her that her mama had loved her?”
She wiped her eyes and sat back in the chair, her arms relaxed. When she spoke again her voice was matter of fact.
“That night, I held Sharlie in my arms, and accepted the assignment God had given me. That night I became Sharlie’s mother. One month later, a judge made it legal. I had never felt so relieved as when I held those adoption papers in my hands.”
Something bothered him about the story she’d just told.
“Why did you have to call emergency services?” She looked at him and hesitated.
They both jolted and ran for the living room when they heard Nathan groan. He put a hand on his brothers. He was more lucid than he had been this morning.
“Nathan, Nathan can you hear me?”
“Where, we?” he rasped.
“We’re in a safe place.”
Siah had him repeat the whole feeding routine again, this time with him doing the feeding and her propping Nathan up. This time he finished the bowl.
Laying him back down, he could tell his brother was sleeping a little easier.
He felt his eyes go wide as Doc laid her hands on his brothers sweating forehead and closed her eyes. She was praying. Again. That was another weird thing about her; she must be some kind of religious nut to be praying like that. Still, she wasn’t chanting or speaking a weird language or anything and she never took more than a few seconds.
He just stood off to the side until she finished.
They put the soup on, Doc adding in some salt before a small sound caught their attention. “Mama?” They both turned to see a very sleepy Sharlie poking her head around the corner. She had her blanket wrapped around her and was carrying her fox and wolf toys, just like in the morning. The kid was pretty small anyways, but wrapped up in her little blanket like that, carrying her little dolls, she looked tiny and - vulnerable. He didn’t like it.
“Hey Sharlie.” Doc scooped up the little girl. “You woke up by yourself?”
She nodded proudly.
“Can Eric play with me?” What?
“I don’t know sweetie, you have to ask him.” What?
“Can we play outside? Please?” The little girl turned to him, pale gray eyes looking at him big and pleading. He looked at Doc without moving his head. She smiled and shrugged. She was leaving this up to him? “You, wanna play outside?”
He looked back up at Doc. “Is- that- allowed?” She nodded, smiling a little.
Why was she comfortable leaving her little kid with him?
“Uh,” he looked down at the kids big eyes. “Ok.” She cheered and hugged his leg.
This kid was way too friendly.
“Sharlie, go put on your coat first and bring me your pants and shoes.”
“Ok.” She chirped before shambling down the hall.
Doc watched her go before turning to him.
“Just take her for a short walk. Let her run some. She needs to blow off some steam.” That was it? No death threats? The kid came back wearing a little pink coat, her arms full of a pair of blockish looking shoes and some weird looking baggy black pants that looked like they’d been made out of a raincoat. Doc knelt and tied the strange pants on her, zipped the coat up and laced on the weird shoes. The right shoe had some extra little piece attached to the bottom of it. He remembered what the kid had said about her shoes fixing her foot.
“What’s with her shoes?”
Doc’s gaze flicked to him only briefly as she tied the shoe on the kid.
“Oh. Sharlie has a turned in foot and has to wear corrective shoes for it. It’s almost fixed now. I’m praying her next pair will be the last she’ll ever need.”
So that was what was wrong with her.
“Okay, now Eric, you go first. I’ll hand Sharlie to you.”
He silently propped the window hatch open and hopped out with ease. He waited while she handed the kid off to him. It felt weird, reaching out and taking a little kid in his hands. It felt even weirder that she reached out to him eagerly, her little face all a big smile.
He took her in his arms and Doc smiled at him through the window.
“Food’ll be ready in about an hour. Be back before then, okay?”
“Okay.” he heard himself say. This was beyond weird. She took off the prop and silently shut the window behind him.
He kept hold of the kid while he put his hood up and looked around, making sure they were alone. He was surprised at how quiet the kid was. She hugged his neck and seemed to be silently looking around herself. Her little coat had a hood on it. He pulled it over her head as he stepped out of the bushes.
He walked her around to where this apartment building met the next with an overhang. He looked at the metal door to his left. It didn’t seem real that it was just last night he’d carried Nathan here. Looking down, he could still see some blood the rain hadn’t washed away. He pulled down a pieced of wet cardboard to cover it before he set the kid down.
He noticed right away she wasn’t limping anymore. She was running fine in fact. That was why the shoes looked so weird; they were correcting how she walked.
He watched as she happily splashed in puddles and ran around the overhang that connected this building to the next. The kid did need to blow off some steam.
He barely reacted in time when she slipped. He shot out his arm around her middle before she face planted in the concrete.
He couldn’t take his eye off this kid for a minute. Slowly placing her back on her feet, he met her wide eyed gaze evenly.
“Be careful.” He told her.
She nodded, her face all seriousness as she continued to look up at him.
Now she was staring?
He stayed right next to her as she finally turned her attention to several bugs that crossed her path. She watched, fascinated as a meal bug slowly crawled across the concrete. She touched the thing to make it roll into a ball and rolled it around a bit before rolling it into the safety of the grass.
When he was little he would kill the things just to hear them crunch; something smaller than him that he could kill, that he could crush- kind of like this weird little kid.
He walked her around the tree line.
She shouted for joy when she saw a clump of flowers.
She ran and played in the flowers for a while before picking some and offering him the clump, eyes bright, little face eager. He cocked his head at her.
It would be so easy to crush her just like he’d crushed those bugs- he’d moved onto larger prey before he was ten. This kid was tiny, helpless; easily broken, easily manipulated-- easily crushed- even if he didn’t hurt her physically, hurting her spirit would be just as easy...but- he didn’t want to.
Without a word, he squatted in front of her, took out his knife and cut a small length of his paracord. Putting it away, he took the little clump of flowers from her and tied the little clump into a rough bouquet. She looked at a complete loss for words as he handed it back to her.
She just looked at him in shock, as if she didn’t know how to react or what to do.
“Take this to your mom.” He explained.
Her face lit up as she jumped up and hugged him. At least this time he’d braced himself and didn’t fall back. He looked around to make sure they were alone.
Carefully, tentatively, he put one arm around the kid and stood.
“Come on. Let’s get you back home.”
He’d just make whatever hugs he had to do, do double duty. They’d been out for long enough. Food should be ready by now.
Once they were back in the bushes, he had to put the kid down so he could lift up the hatch. Doc beat him to it.
“Hey you two, foods ready.”
How’d she know they were here? He hadn’t made a sound. Doc reached out and he handed the kid off before climbing in himself.
The amazing smell in the air hit him hard and made his stomach growl. Doc was on one knee in front of the kid who was proudly handing her the clump of flowers.
“Oh, sweetie, they’re beautiful. Thank you.” She looked at them more closely. “Where’d you get this funny string?
“Eric made it.”
She looked to him. He pulled a length of his paracord out of his pocket.
“I always carry paracord with me.”
His stomach growled again. He ducked his head as Doc gave a half smile.
“Come on, let’s get you two some food.”
Doc had dragged the coffee table close to the fire and set him and the kid at it as she took the little jacket and boots off her.
She doled out the stew for them and he couldn’t help attack it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten anything this good. He didn’t know what kind of spices she’d put into the vegetable soup but it was amazing. When he finally stopped to take a breath he saw the kid was eating as hungrily as he was. Doc was looking at them both like she was enjoying herself.
“You’re not gonna eat?”
“I’ll eat when you two finish up. I only have the two bowls.”
She served him seconds without asking, he ate that as fast as he had the first bowl. Even the kid took another half bowl.
Doc took her bowl, filled it up again, then took his nearly empty bowl and filled it again without asking. Then she sat down to eat herself. There was enough that she was able to have seconds herself and there was still some left.
He felt bad that here he’d just eaten delicious food and Nathan was so out of it that he hadn’t even woken up.
“Hey.” Doc patted his arm.
“He’s doing well so far. There’s enough left for him whenever he comes too. He won’t miss out.”
How had she known what he was thinking?
She played a quick game with the kid, then took her to the kitchen. He heard her rummage in the cabinets and put a pot on the propane burner. A minute later the kid ran out into the bathroom and he heard her clamber into the tub.
He got up and followed her. There she was, this scrawny kid, trying her hardest to push up the knob that controlled the drain plug. Seriously? He leaned over, lifted her out of the tub with one hand and flipped the knob with his finger.
She looked at him wide eyed again. Doc called her from the kitchen and he followed her as she ran back. Doc was lifting a large pot of boiling water off the burner; a couple of towels slung over one shoulder. She was telling the kid to stay back as she made her way to the bathroom. He picked her up and stepped into the living room. She looked at him and half smiled.
Carefully pouring the boiling water into the tub, she handed him the big pot and then drew some cold water from the tap.
“Go fill that up with more water and get it boiling for you to take a bath later.”
She took the kid and shut the door and left him there in the hallway holding the still steaming pot. She expected him to take a bath?
He listened to the sound of splashing water for a minute. It crossed his mind to bang on the door and tell her he didn’t need a bath but then he remembered he hadn’t bathed in a week.
He filled the pot and turned the heat back. Nathan was still out cold but his breathing was even. The stew was still over the fire. It looked like Doc had added the last of the dried beef.
He should go get more wood, and some more food, they’d just eaten most of hers.
The doc came out a little while later, dressed but with wet hair, the kid wrapped in a towel. Guiding her to the back bedroom, he lost sight of them when they rounded the corner of the small room.
He stayed where he was. “Hey Eric,” she called.
This lady was weird “Yeah?” He called back.
“If that waters a boiling, you go in now. There’s soap and shampoo in the tub and just use one of the washcloths and a fresh towel from under the sink.”
He didn’t argue. He went into the bathroom and shut the door. Taking a bath in a real tub felt great. He actually let himself relax as his mind drifted over the day. He lifted his seared right hand to look at the place where the kid, Sharlie, had first touched him that morning. Both of his hands were grotesquely wrinkled and puckered. She hadn’t even flinched at him, didn’t seem scared of him at all. More like in awe of him.
She was weird.
Just like her mom.
He only let himself soak for a few minutes before he started scrubbing and washing out his stringy hair. When he’d worked up a lather everywhere, he dunked himself down and used a plastic cup to rinse out his hair with the bucket of warm water he’d set aside.
Toweling himself off, he couldn’t believe how good it felt to be clean.
He chafed at the feel as he put his blood spattered clothes back on. What chafed him worse was how dependent they were on the Doc. They really were going to need to stay with her like he’d heard her tell the kid. With Nathan down like he was, there was no other choice. He was going to have to go get some of their things and bring them here.
What he couldn’t get was why she was being so nice- about everything.
When he finally came out of the bathroom, he saw the Doc laying on the mattress in the back bedroom with the kid, reading a book to her.
He went into the living room. Nathan was still out of it.
Suddenly the doc was there beside him with what looked like a sewing supplies. He hadn’t even heard her enter the room. He needed to put his guard back up. He was way too relaxed.
She wordlessly knelt over his brother and began to cut bandages out of the sheets she had in the basket. She lifted the old dressings off, checking them as she did. She seemed pleased by what she saw. He was just about to ask what that meant when she weirded him out even more than he already was by putting her nose right up to his brothers injury and sniffing it.
What- was- she doing?
She seemed to take stock of what she smelled, replaced the bandage and had him help turn Nathan onto his side so she could change the dressing over his exit wound. Nathan moaned as he moved him but didn’t fully awaken. Doc made quick work of doing the same procedure here as at the other side and when she had him set Nathan back down, he passed back out immediately.
Doc just knelt there next to Nathan looking at him for a minute. She was probably praying in her head. She suddenly turned and looked up at him.
“Want some tea?”
He nodded and she brought out a small pot and a couple of mugs. Setting the mugs next to the fire, she unhooked the big pot that still held a little stew, leaving it to balance on the spider thing. Hanging the small pot of water on the hook, she dumped the dry contents of one of the mugs into the pot and sat back as they waited for the water to boil. Usually he was fine with silence, but he felt like he should say- something.
“Thanks for taking care of Nathan.” He blurted.
She turned to him and gave him a genuine, if not tired smile.
"Thank you for taking care of Sharlie and letting me get some sleep. I needed it.”
He ducked his head, suddenly uncomfortable.
She placed a hand on his shoulder. He froze.
“I mean it Eric.” He slowly turned to look at her.
“You gave her a great day, probably one of the best in her life. Thank you for that.” Her simple smile as she said the words made him squirm a little.
She dropped her hand and her smile turned to worry as the water in the little pot began to boil.
“Tomorrow I have to take her back to work with me….”
He remembered how scared she was that morning about taking the kid to work with her. How she had been so emphatic about hating taking her to work.
A thought crossed his mind as she poured him the tea. He deliberately ignored it.
The tea smelled like mint.
Grandpa had liked mint tea.
He took a sip.
It was nice.
The thought invaded his mind again. What was going on with him?
“I could-” He blurted. The thought forced itself on him with as much force as the bullet that had invaded Nathans chest.
“I could watch her- I figure I owe you…”
He didn’t know how exactly he’d expected her to react, but – again- she took him by surprise.
He eyes grew wide and she reached out and grabbed him into a bear hug.
It was all he could do not to spill his tea.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He couldn’t see her face as she hugged him.
He was shocked when he realized his hoodie was becoming damp.
She was crying.
“Now tomorrow I’m going to go to work and you’ll stay home with Eric and help take care of Nathan.”
Her little face lit up with hope. “Eric play with me again?”
“If you ask nicely I’m sure he will, but he will also have to be taking care of Nathan while I’m not here since he’s still hurt sooo bad, so he will only be able to play with you sometimes. Understand?”
“And remember Sharlie, you need to be very nice to the boys and give help. Remember they're scared of girls.”
Sharlie’s face became very serious.
“Mama, how come they scared of girls?”
She thought carefully as she slipped pajamas over Sharlie’s head. She sat her down and looked her in the eye. She wanted the child to know just how serious this was.
“A long time ago, when they were little, a girl was very mean to them, so now, whenever they’re around girls, they get very scared. So you need to be extra nice to them, understand?”
Sharlie nodded solemnly.
“Now, let’s go to bed.”
They left the bathroom, Siah called out for Eric that the bathroom was free.
Eric lay down in the same spot, with the same pillow and blanket he’d woken up in that morning and played the day’s events over in his head. He hadn’t asked and she hadn’t volunteered, but he wondered what was going on at that clinic that made Doc relieved to the point of tears to have him watch her kid? After he’d offered to watch the kid- Sharlie- and Doc had managed to pull herself together, they’d made some plans and she’d given him some instructions.
Tomorrow at dawn, before Doc left for work, he’d go to the auto shop and get his and Nathan’s stuff so Doc and the kid could use their own things again. He would’ve gone now that it was dark, but Doc had said he should wait until dawn when the streets were nearly deserted of coyotes and wild dogs and the gangs/ addicts were all passing out from their nightly activities.
She had a point. With Nathan out, he needed to be more cautious.
He had less than his usual trouble falling asleep. Maybe it was because of Doc, maybe because she seemed to actually care about his and Nathans well-being, but he actually found himself relaxing there on the floor.
Yeah, Doc Siah. That was her.
No question, he thought as he fell asleep; this was the weirdest day of his life.