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55: Work break

When the day’s all done
And it hasn’t been fun
And that place across the street
Gets most of the trade
And cash to be made
From the folks who want to eat
And it’s been that way for quite some time
And the evening hasn’t turned a dime—
Maybe it’s time for a break

August slid into September, but it was a gentle collision, bringing sunny days more like July than the beginning of the end for Summer, and David Godwin was using one of those sunny days to catch up on previously neglected business.

     Scooting along city streets, his small, perky little vehicle was busy going places. The brightly coloured little four-by-four was running zealously around town as it and the driver made a concerted effort to get the work done.

     With only a short stop at a gas pump to keep it happy, and a hop through a take-out window for a quick lunch-to-go for the driver, it kept up the pace well into the afternoon, getting hot and hotter along with the sunshine which had changed from ‘nice morning’ into ‘geeze, it’s too damned hot’ by the time its driver finally managed to dust off previously shelved good intentions, making him feel almost virtuous—or at least well pleased with himself for having finally got at it.

     Just as the four-by-four was ready to make a run for it and get out of the horde of other vehicles surrounding it whose drivers seemed to have the same idea, circumstances beyond its control brought everything to an abrupt standstill.

     Late afternoon found it going nowhere. The word ‘rush’ seemed to have lost its meaning at the rush-hour. Fuming frustration might have been a better term. Somebody had run out of gas in one lane, and then somebody else had taken a corner on an amber and seen red when he got hit by somebody else rushing the green. Brakes screeched, rear-ends got bashed and drivers went into despair.

     Gridlock took over.

     In spite of the hassle and the delay the topless, hot little stationary vehicle didn’t contain an uptight driver. David Godwin was whistling as he waited for a change in the situation. He was in a different space.

     <Dinner at Yevy’s tonight—if I can get there before midnight. Tomorrow it’s the Bay. I’m sure looking forward to that. Been thinking about it a lot.>

     Traffic began to move at last as tow-trucks and traffic officers straightened out the road rage, but once on his way again and arriving at his destination, finding a place to park close to Yevy’s asked for yet more effort.

     He circled the area, searching, and eventually somebody pulled out from a curb. Being small, the little four-by-four whipped into the space before anyone else could get themselves together for a try. Ignoring the glares it was getting from the drivers of less fortunate hunters it had beaten to the prize, it gave a happy sigh of relief and lapsed into silence when the key was turned off, settling down for a well-deserved rest as David fed the parking meter and headed for the café.

     Yevy’s permanently lounging, friendly old door reminded him as he opened it that he needed to do some work around the newly replaced window, where not only had the glass been shattered but the frame had been subjected to a couple of whacks as well. Inside he found Bert Raleigh sitting at the back table with Yevy—otherwise the place was empty.

     “Hope I’m not too late for dinner,” he called as he walked up to them. “Got kind of busy at the marina this morning and left downtown stuff pretty late, and then traffic was held up, and parking is getting to be something else too. More like that old kids’ game of musical chairs.”

     “You work too much,” commented Bert.

     “Whatcha doin’ here an’ not eatin’ at Gram’s?” asked Yevy.

     “Oh, she’s busy holding a meeting of her symphony group tonight so I said I’d eat out—and where else would I go for that?”

     “Yeah, you got smarts for eatin’,” approved Yevy, “ ’Cept when you go to ’em fast flap windows.”

     “Hey, a guy has to eat in a hurry sometimes,” grinned David. “I’d rather come here, but—no time sometimes.”

     “You shouldn’t eat on the run like that,” Bert advised. “It’s bad for your health and dangerous, tooling your wheels around one-handed.”

     “Well, fortunately for my health I don’t do it too often,” David defended himself, “And I only take bites at red lights and stops and such.”

     “Okay, whatcha gonna have? Special?”

     “Sounds good to me if that’s what Bert’s eating. It looks great.”

     “ ’Tis so too. Help youself.”

     David headed for the kitchen, catching the conversation the two older men were having as he got his dinner together.

     When he returned with his plate and sat down he remarked,

     “How come you two are always grousing these days?”

     “Ain’t grousin’, jus’ pissed off,” Yevy defended himself. “Ain’t no fun ’round here no more. We all don’t do nuttin’ but work.”

     “Yeah, look at the three of us,” continued Bert. “Big healthy men in the prime of life and all we do is work. There has to be something better.”

     David raised his eyebrows at the two, accompanied by an amused smile at that summary of things.

     “Well, if you just sit here waiting for something to happen, it’s not going to come looking for you,” he suggested. “Why don’t you go out and have some fun?”

     “Oh yeah, we should just walk out the door and it’s there,” growled Bert. “You can go all over the place if you want to. We’re stuck here.”

     “Well, figure out some way to unstick yourselves,” was the laughing reply, “And my going all over the place isn’t always for fun. Anyway, I thought you liked it here. You’re always saying there’s no place like home and all that.”

     “Well mebbe they ain’t no place like ’is, but it sure do get borin’ sometimes,” countered Yevy. “Usta be more fun.”

     “Fun around here has turned into somebody smashing your window once a week. We’re spending our investment in this place keeping up with glass replacement. You ought to put an iron grid across it,” advised Bert.

     “I ain’t gonna have it lookin’ like no jail,” objected Yevy. “Anybody wanna get in ain’t nuttin’ in here for takin’ ’cept tables an’ chairs an’ Gram’s tableclot’s. Leave cash register open empty so’s ’ey can see ain’t nuttin’ in it anyways. I gettin’ used to ’at window bein’ banged now.”

     “That’s just it Yev. We’ve been sitting around this place getting used to things for so long—,” Bert scratched his head, made a face, then said in a shocked voice—“That long?! No damned wonder it’s boring.”

     “Maybe we quit an’ do sumpin’ elst, yeah?” was Yevy’s response.

     “Here we go again,” grinned David, shaking his head.

     “So what else should we do?” queried Bert in a disgruntled voice. “You and I don’t know how to do anything else except what we’ve been doing all these years and we’re not quite eligible for the old age pension yet.”

     Silence, while David worked on his dinner for a few moments, then,

     “Uhuh—I can’t remember either of you knocking off work except every time Yevy got hit by the health inspector, or your accounting office got audited. Isn’t it about time the two of you took a holiday? How long has it been since either of you did?”

     “You mean goin’ someplace elst?” asked Yevy. “Musta been ’at time I run like hell from where I usta was, gettin’ away from war. You bet I t’ink I like ’is place. Is sure home for me, an’ I ain’t goin’ nowheres.”

     “How about you Bert? When did you get away last?” queried David.

     “Think I’ve forgotten what the word ‘holiday’ means,” replied Bert glumly.

     “Yeah, it figures. I bet neither of you has gone anywhere since way before I first met you. Tell you what, you two—you’re right. You’ve been in the city too long. I’m heading to Shalisa Creek Bay tomorrow to pick up Howie, and I’m taking Stebby along so he can work on that power boat of mine. How about you two coming with us? It’s a great place. You’d like it.”

     “You nuts,” returned Yevy negatively. “You alla time yappin’ about ’at place. Nuttin’ but trees an’ water an’ stuff.”

     “You mean it?” queried Bert with surprised interest.

     “Yeah. That would be fun—and there’s more than ’trees an’ stuff’. We can go into the village and hit the pub and you can see what life in the slow lane is like.”

     “Get any slower’n ’is an’ we should mebbe oughta drop dead for goin’ some faster,” was Yevy’s assessment.

     “Well I’m not going to do that,” Bert returned emphatically. “Maybe a change of scenery for a little while might be a good thing.”

     “Sounds like you’re for it then,” encouraged David, pleased that his idea was being given a little serious consideration. “How about you, Yev?”

     “Who’s gonna look after ’is place?”

     “Right now it doesn’t need any looking after,” scoffed Bert. “That place across the street gets all the traffic, except for the kids who get free food at night here because you don’t want to throw it out, and they gather like flies around a garbage can.”

     “Hey! ’Is place ain’t no garbage can!” objected Yevy in an insulted tone of voice.

     “I didn’t say it was,” soothed Bert, “I just meant those kids know you’re going to give them something free and they gather like flies, and all you get for thanks is a broken window. Any other time, if you, me and David aren’t here, who else is going to eat it?”

     “My kids ain’t who bust ’at window—an’ it ain’t ’at bad,” argued Yevy. “I get lottsa people inna daytime.”

     “So it’s the kids who don’t get any freebies and get mad who do it—and do you think your daytime customers’ll starve without you? Probably go across the street and eat that junk food. It’s a weekend anyway and all your working guys’ll be at home. They’ll appreciate this place more when we get back. Let those damned kids kick the window in without waking you up for a change. Come on. Be a sport.”

     “Don’t like sports. Stupid. Guys chasin’ balls an’ t’ings around wit’ sticks an’ hittin’ each udder wit ’em instead.”

     The other two laughed at that and then Bert urged,

     “Come on, take a chance. Get your butt out of a rut.”

     “It really is something different,” elaborated David. “You’d like everybody, and for sure the kids. You’re always trying to do something for young people even though you pretend you’re not.”

     “Gotta do sumpin’ to shut ’em noisy li’l beggars up,” Yevy defended himself.

     “How about it Yev? If I go you’ll go, okay?” bargained Bert.

     “You can take your mandolin along,” David added, for what he hoped would be an extra incentive. “Stebby’s taking his guitar, and we’ll make some music together down by the beach. Fitz and the guys play a great hand of poker too and—,” thinking hard as to what else he could use as enticement he threw in, “Rose’ll be happy to see you again, and wait till you taste Bettina’s home made wine.”

     There were a couple of anxious moments for David and Bert as Yevy stayed thoughtful for a too long time, hugging his coffee mug, but he finally gave in because he was secretly beginning to think it sounded like a great idea.

     “Well—mebbe—okay—jus’ to please you guys an’ mebbe see lady law too.”

     “Yippee!” yelled Bert. “It’ll be fun.”

     “Okay,” agreed David quickly, to seal the bargain. “I’ll pick you two up here early tomorrow morning and we’ll head out. Just bring a few things to last a couple of days.”

     “Like cigars and brandy,” speculated Bert, “And a deck of cards. These guys play good poker you say?”

     “Some of the best,” he was assured, then added with a grin, “And don’t forget your toothbrush.”

- - -

David whistled happily all the way to the marina with his three passengers wedged into his little four-by-four, along with their luggage, musical instrument cases sticking out at odd angles. The whistling was interspersed with remarks about why they hadn’t done this before and what a great time they were going to have and how much they’d like it there, until Yevy piped up from the back seat,

     “You gettin’ pay from some travel place to heap all ’at toury yap at us? T’ought ’is trip is for Stebby to fix ’at boat.”

     “Sorry,” laughed David. “But this is just such a great idea, and a nice morning and—yeah—getting to the bay again and having Steb fix the boat engine. We should have thought of this long ago—and—I just feel good.”

     He was actually thinking about Rose, and had been since his nearly disastrous and unsettling return from the bay, so he’d come up with the idea of getting his mechanic over to repair LEAF WINE’s engine a little earlier than he’d planned on before his departure. That trip home had made him seriously consider his parting remark to Rose that nobody had promised him a tomorrow.

     Tomorrow had suddenly become, ’do it today’.

     “Yeah, I feel good too,” agreed Bert enthusiastically. “It’s a great morning to start a holiday.”

     Bert liked that word, ‘holiday’. He hadn’t entertained that idea for so many years that the thought of it as they arrived at the marina made him feel ten years younger.

     The four went down the ramp to the floating office and set down their luggage as Yevy looked around and, seeing only the plane and David’s rowboat secured to the wharf, asked with something of puzzled anxiety in his voice.

     “Where’s Tooty Law?”

     David gave him a surprised look, then told him,

     “She’s up on the hard getting a refit—you forgotten? Today we fly—in more ways than one.”

     “I t’ought—it take ’at long for fixin’ a boat?”

     “Well yeah. She got a lot of water in her—engine and everything needs a going over. Besides, the plane gets us there and back faster and we get more time at the bay. With TJUTELA it needs a week there and back if we want to spend a couple of days or so, and I haven’t got that much time right now.”

     “Well, I ain’t gettin’ in at t’ing,” returned Yevy with finality, regarding the plane with wary eyes.

     “You ain’t what?!” exploded Bert.

     “I ain’t!”

     “You damned well am!” declared Bert.

     “It ain’t safe. He allus doin’ crazy stuff wit’ it.”

     “Like what?”

     “Like—,” Yevy thought hard. “Like ’at time he got stuck from home cuz he got caught wit’ snow.”

     “Well that wasn’t his fault—and he did get home—eventually. He doesn’t control the weather.”

     “Yeah—’at’s just it,” was the gloomy reply.

     “Oh great,” grinned David. “You’re scared of flying.”

     “Me too I think,” came a small voice from the young mechanic standing quietly by the others.

     David swung around.

     “Geeze! You too?! Why the hell didn’t you tell me before?”

     “Well—maybe—because I felt I wasn’t—but—I never flew before—so I don’t know.”

     “Aw, come on guys,” pleaded David. “Getting on a plane is no big deal.”

     “Let’s leave ’em behind,” suggested Bert with disgust in his tone.

     This pilot was not about to have his day ruined by balky passengers. He tried reasonable persuasion.

     “Well, let me put it this way. You think I’d take off in this thing if I thought I wouldn’t get back down safely again? I’m just as fond of living as you are—maybe more so. I’ve got Gram and the pups to think of and all the guys at the marina. I’ve got responsibilities—so I’m responsible—and do you think I’d ask you to do something that’s not safe?”

     “What you t’ink Steb?” Yevy consulted with the other reluctant traveller.

     “Guess he wouldn’t,” admitted the young man. “Hasn’t asked me to do anything like that yet.”

     “ ’Cept maybe ’is?”

     “He just said it’s safe.”

     “You believe ’at?”


     “Well yeah—yeah? Or well yeah—mebbe?

     “You two gonna stand here all day holding that two-way going nowhere dialogue? Come on—get in!” ordered Bert.

As the three were carrying on their discussion David opened the luggage compartment, picked up Yevy’s overnight bag and mandolin case and put them in along with Bert’s tote bag and his own.

     “I’ll just store your stuff safely in here,” he murmured quietly, finishing off the loading with the mechanic’s backpack, guitar and tool case.

     The verbal sparring came to an end when Yevy and Bert turned around at the sound of the luggage compartment closing with a sound of definite finality.

     “Okay,” David told them with a bright stage smile, “All aboard so the ship can sail.”

     “That’s it,” said Bert with determination, grabbing hold of Yevy and pushing him toward the plane. “Get in there.”

     Yevy halted in front of the plane.

     “I gotta climb up on ’at dinky li’l ladder?”

     “Hey—it’s not dinky and it’s solid—look.” David swung himself up and down again. “See? Nothin’ to it. Just stick your foot on there and step up. Oh geeze! Estéban, you get in and help him up from inside then, just to make him feel safe.”

     That tone of voice from The Boss, addressing him by his full name, prompted the mechanic to move. He got up his courage, climbed gingerly up the ladder and, finding himself safe inside the cabin, he turned to help. With Bert pushing from behind and Estéban pulling on his arms, Yevy got in and grabbed for a seat.

     “Hop in fast,” David said to Bert, “Before they change their minds and start getting out again.”

     With his luggage and passengers safely aboard, David slid the plane across the water and as they lifted off, Bert, who was thoroughly enjoying himself, turned to Yevy and said,

     “Look at that! Sure looks great from up here doesn’t it?”

     “I ain’t lookin’!” was the reply.

- - -

It was not only David who was utilising the sunny days to advantage. Bay residents were not only enjoying the good weather, but using it to finish off the harvesting of their gardens, which had grown so willingly, cheered on by all the enthusiastic green thumbs who had done just about everything they could think of to help the plants succeed.

     Up-and-coming young green thumbs had some thoughts on that subject too, like the suggestion Walter made for giving a boost to help them grow bigger faster. He felt that maybe they needed to be shown some ‘calisedics’. He’d picked up that word from Therése who had told him it was what she was doing when he’d seen her dancing to music, and she’d told him that the movements she had learned made people graceful as well as supple and kept them growing well and in good health. People, she said, needed to move around a lot for that, and she then showed him how to reach and sway, taking his arms and stretching them over his head while he moved to the rhythm of the sounds.

     This gave him the idea that the plants were maybe sitting around too long in the sunshine without getting any exercise, and since they couldn’t get up and dance maybe he could teach them how to reach for Sky like his sister did. Giving them a little pull upward to show them how to stretch, the way Therése had done with him, might be in order. The plants were graceful enough he admitted, but he just wanted to make sure they were big and healthy as well.

     Rose, seeing the little boy’s earnestness, refrained from laughing and told him that when he saw the leaves of the plants fluttering, and the plants themselves swaying in the wind, they were indeed dancing and reaching just like Therése, and were getting lots of exercise, which explanation brought a smile to Walter’s face. He next wondered if they should maybe play some music for them too. The answer was that if he listened carefully he would hear Wind singing, and playing beautiful music just suited to the way plants wanted to dance. Satisfaction took over as Walter agreed with Rose’s further words, that Mother Nature really was careful to supply everything all the green things needed for growing.

     Calisthenics for plants was left to the care of Wind and Mother Nature.

     The boon of fair weather also gave extra time for earthing up over-wintering vegetables to keep them safe from being washed out by heavy winter rains or possible frost damage later in the year. Vines and plants which had been plundered of their crops were being cleared away and chopped up to be added to the compost heaps each garden thriftily used to recycle nature’s own food requirements for next year’s growth. As Dancing Water put it, ‘Earth too needs to share in what she has helped us grow so plentifully in our fine gardens and so we give back with thanks that which we do not need.’

     A general tidying up was going on, and settling the gardens down for the winter was resolutely progressing. Press of time was foremost in the minds of the gardeners. Rain and cooler days would make the work less pleasant, or sometimes even prevent it from getting done. This season things were being taken care of when they needed to be, without the interference of Weather for a change.

     Shalisa Creek Bay rippled lazily in the sunshine, in contrast to the more animated movement of its residents. Visitors were expected and LEGER DE MAIN was delighted, as preparations to welcome them had the finishing touches added aboard the barge. That meant the setting out of donated ‘goodies’ and the arranging of flowers gathered by the children.

     Coffee aboard the barge was now considered the necessary happening for anything out of the ordinary which included the involvement of the collective bay population. One such gathering had determined that Estéban was to be given his choice of residence for his stay, up to and including a tent if he really wanted to be by himself. Otherwise, every home—house, boat or barge—would make him welcome.

     Rose was particularly looking forward to the expected company. Estéban would repair the commuter—at least the engine—and then the hull would be put in shape, and last of all the interior. She was more interested in getting the boat operational than in having that last requirement fulfilled, although restoring the cabin interior would be a beautiful finish to the project.

     At first she’d focussed her thoughts on being able to keep a watch on the Point. That was the object to be keep in view—repairing the commuter was for Shalisa Creek Bay’s welfare. The idea of skimming over the water at a good clip was just an extra. That frame of mind lurked around until she caught herself in her little-white-lying to herself and admitted that fun was involved in the whole process too, and everybody would enjoy the boat when it was operational. She finally admitted to herself that—yes, she did want to get her hands on the controls of that fast little boat. It would be great fun as well as having a means of safeguarding the peninsula.

     So—everyone awaited the repair of LEAF WINE’s engine, whether it was for business or pleasure.

     Then, there would be Yevy and Bert. She had met the restaurateur on her trip to the city with Armand, but she was interested in meeting the other half of this duo who were so close to David and—there was David himself. For Rose that part of the visit was going to be the piéce de résistance among all the goodies set out on the barge.

     The children could hardly wait for Uncle Twimby’s visit so that he could meet his ‘chickie’, who was no chickie at all, but a full grown red hen. All the other Chickie Mansion dwellers except David’s had already been named, and the children felt it wasn’t quite right to keep on calling her, ‘No Name’.

     On the other end of these upbeat expectations, Howard was not the least bit excited about the arrival of his brother—it was a downer for him. He had been getting into the village with every chance which turned up, and some he manufactured. Lucy was there and he was infatuated. He didn’t want to go home, but he knew that David was not going to let him stay behind.

     He’d thought of simply ‘disappearing’ until David had to leave under press of time, but then there was his father to consider. Education was big in that man’s mind, and money was big in Howie’s. He didn’t want to be cut off from this commodity which was so important to his life style, as had happened once before when he had become ‘infatuated’ with somebody. It wouldn’t matter to either of these men that this time it was different and meant a lot to him. Willingly or otherwise, he would go. No nonsense Big Brother would see to that. Unwillingly, he was facing the prospect of leaving.

     The other bay residents were just pleased to have company, particularly the men, who had heard about the poker playing which went on in the back of Yevy’s Café, and they were always willing to hone their skills with anybody—except David. They had given up with that one.

     The sound of the aircraft in the distance brought the usual reaction of, “Sounds like him,” and, “Here comes Uncle Twimby!”

     There was a stampede of six children toward the beach as the plane came in and a more leisurely reaction from the adults.

     Armand, who had brought METHUSELAH to the wharf the afternoon before, to get ready for a suggested trip to the village, was waiting as the plane taxied up to the old structure.

     “Hi Doc,” David called cheerfully as he stepped out and saw the doctor ready to offer help if needed. Then, seeing everyone coming down to the shore to meet them he added, “Looks like we’ve announced our arrival as usual when we come by air. I guess my noise travels far and wide. Sorry about that.”

     “It’s a sound which is appreciated here at least,” Armand responded, “But it is unfortunate that you have had to abandon the silent white wings of TJUTELA. Will she be on the water again soon?”

     “Afraid not,” was the negative answer. “I’m giving her a real going over and refit just to make sure everything’s as it was before. Actually she’s been needing a spiffing up for awhile now, and that trip home more than told me I’d better get at it. The guys will work on her when there’s nothing else to do and I’m not going to push it. She’s not going back in the water until she’s shipshape.”

     “Perfect, that is,” replied Armand with a knowing grin.

     “Okay,” laughed the pilot, “Guess I am kind of particular whereTJUTELA is concerned.”

     He turned to his passengers, who were politely waiting for the signal to disembark, and told them,

     “End of the line guys—everybody out.”

     “We gotta stick out our necks on ’at wobbly ladder again?” asked Yevy, as none of the three moved from their seats.

     “Well, that’s the usual way,” returned David with a laugh as he went to the luggage compartment and began to unload its contents, “And that ladder doesn’t wobble—it’s just the motion of the plane in the water, but if you can think of some other method of getting ashore—go ahead—give it a try.”

     “Come on, get out,” ordered Bert from inside the cabin, addressing the two who were closest to the exit.

     “Stebby, you go first, yeah?” suggested Yevy.

     Estéban, having found that flying was not as frightening as he had built it up to be in his mind and, remembering how easily David had swung himself up and down, left his seat, made for the doorway of the plane and essayed to copy that deceptively easy looking technique, except Tide, never one to miss an opportunity, lifted the plane a little, which made the boards lower than the young man had estimated. Already launched forward, and caught by the unexpected shifting of parameters, he stumbled on the old wharf as he landed, grabbing David to save himself from falling.

     “See? Nothing to it,” approved the pilot, steadying him out of sight of the other two passengers, and giving him a grin and a pat on the shoulder. “Okay, we’ve both proven it’s safe. Come on out.”

     Estéban was greatly relieved at not having fallen flat on his face in front of the collected bay residents, however ungraceful the descent, especially since it included David’s brother whom he had seen lurking on the far edges of the gathering and who now shouted,

     “Hey—Stebby! Where’s your Harley?”

     He had met Howard casually a couple of times and hadn’t been quite sure what to make of him, deciding that he was definitely not like his big brother. Now, glad to have stayed upright in front of what he considered to be a critical member of the audience ashore, Estéban added his assurances to David’s statement.

     “It’s safe and you’re not going to get out any other way.”

     “Kinda wisht I din’t get in,” muttered Yevy, looking at Bert, who stared back, saying,

     “Go ahead, I’ll help from here and they’ll help from there.”

     There was such a long wait that finally David called,

     “Want me to flip a coin to see who’s first?”

     “You coward, Yevy,” Bert laughingly labelled his friend.

     “Me, I don’t care bein’ coward,” snorted Yevy. “You go, Bert.”

     “Well, guess we can’t sit here all day,” decided Bert, got up and carefully lowered himself down backwards safely onto the wharf.

     “Okay come on out, you coward,” he called, as those ashore began to exchange amused glances.

     After a pause Yevy appeared, clutching the doorway, stepped cautiously onto the first rung of the boarding ladder and got swung up and down by Tide having fun with the newbies. Fearing that he was going to be dumped onto the wharf headfirst the restaurateur decided to jump onto the boards, ignored David’s outstretched hand, and let go of his hold. At that moment the plane rocked up and down some more, and Yevy lost his balance, fell sideways onto the plane’s float and slid off it into the saltchuck.

     “Agh! Geeze!

     With a swift move David jumped onto the float where Yevy was scrabbling to hold on, grabbed him under his arms and hauled him bodily up and over onto the wharf like a sack of wet oatmeal.

     Armand, Estéban and Bert all rushed over to help hoist him onto his feet and, as he staggered there on the wharf between his rescuers, sputtering and streaming water and curses, Yevy finally got out,

     “Allus said ’at damn plane dangerous. You crazy flyin’ aroun’ in ’at ’ting. I gonna walk home,” and with that he waved off his rescuers. “Get away! You t’ink I be some sorta weakly ole geezer or sump’n? I okay.”

     He pushed them off and, as the three backed away in surprise, he glanced around while using the palms of his hands to squeegee water from the front of his clothes and remarked,

     “Hey, nice lookin’ place. Sorta looks like ole home back when. Lottsa rock—but a lotta more green—nice!

     Relieved laughter and enquiries as to whether he was alright came from shoreward so Yevy waved an arm in the air, calling,

     “I okay t’anks!”

     “You all go ahead to the barge,” Armand suggested, “And Yevy and I’ll get on METHUSELAH and find him some dry clothes.”

     As the doctor took him by a wet arm and started him toward the schooner, Yevy, not quite as got together as he was letting on, enquired,

     “Mebbe you got a good shot of some ole fashion medicine too?”

     “We can sure fill that prescription,” laughed Armand. “Let’s get aboard and dry you off first.”

     “Dry hell!” objected Yevy. “I all wet now—bit more inside me ain’t gonna hurt first.”

     Anxiety replaced by relief as he saw that his friend was unharmed and in good hands, David looked toward the end of the wharf and saw who he was wanting to see, but before he could get to her the twins ran up and quickly took him over.

     “Where’s Ulf an’ Gurth Uncle Twimby?” was the enquiry.

     “Well, their favourite seats were already spoken for so they couldn’t come this time,” explained David as they and his two dry passengers headed for the others ashore.

     The newcomers had to be duly introduced, Yevy in absentia, as they were invited to the coffee get-together aboard the barge, but in spite of all this going on David managed to catch Rose’s eyes on him.

     “Hey Rose,” he grinned, trying not to let too much diffidence show in his face, because he wasn’t quite sure what her reaction had been to the termination of his last bay visit, as he hadn’t stayed around long enough to find out. He’d been speculating on it ever since and, even though he’d felt there had been a reciprocal response to his unexpected leave taking, he’d been telling himself so to reassure himself. Now the moment of revelation was at hand.

     “Hello David.”

     The smile he got back banished all doubt, but at that point Therése excitedly broke in, telling him,

     “You have to come and see the chickens. You have such a really pretty big red hen and she is really sad because she doesn’t have a name yet.”

     “Yeah, an’ we all have chickies of our own,” broke in Walter.

     “An’ Uncle Nohow an’ Uncle Tugboat got big red hens too,” added Bernice. “ ’Cause they’re not here all the time like you aren’t an’ so we thought that big chickies don’t need looking after so much ’cause they do that themselves an’ look after all the little chickies too.”

     “Maybe we’d better go see them right away,” suggested Rose. “She’s been waiting for you to name her.”

     He had been told all about the arrival of the chickens and their distribution when he’d phoned Fitz to check on LEAF WINE’s status, up to and including the colourful method of banding and the sorting out of who chose whom and he’d been looking forward to meeting his new friend.

     “So now I’ve got a red hen as well as two big white dogs!” exclaimed David. “Is she pretty and big or just pretty big?”

     “Both,” said the twins at once.

     “Hey! She must be fantastic then!” was David’s exuberant reaction.

     “There!” exclaimed Therése. “He’s already named her.”

     “Ooops,” laughed David, “Okay, Fanny for short. Let’s go see my fantastic new pet.”

     The group headed toward the Chickie Mansion and as the youngsters ran ahead the two adults managed to trail behind, allowing them to have a few words by themselves.

     “I’m looking forward to hearing your music again,” she told him. “There’s lots of music around here, but somehow I can’t help feeling it’s lacking just a little shining something without your input, and since you couldn’t play your flute last time I haven’t heard any of yours for awhile.”

     “Yeah? Well I hope I can fill in the gap,” he offered, pleased with her compliment. “Also maybe get a little flute playing in by myself down by the big tree on the beach. Sounds selfish, but musicians need to keep their skills up and hate to bother other people with their bent notes, myself included in the bending. We not only have to keep our fingers flying but there are other things as well. Flute players not only have sensitive spirits but sensitive lips too. They have to be held just so,” here he set his lips as though to play the flute, “And that’s not saying anything about the delicate and intricate tonguing which goes with it—doubles, triples....”

     “Oh yes,” broke in Rose, smiling at what she took to be an oblique reference. “I recall the demonstration of that art you left me with when you went home last month—and I think your tongue is getting a bit out of hand again right about now.”

     “Sorry,” he backed off. “Guess I did overstep the bounds of friendship when I left last time. Better not do that again.”

     Noting his disappointed tone of voice she replied quickly with a laugh,

     “Oh, how sad. I rather enjoyed it,” which came as an immediate relief to David as she continued, “You did catch me off guard though, but I haven’t been around the fast lane for awhile so maybe my judgement of these things is slipping. Am I to expect this every time you leave or will you keep your impulsive double and triple exercises in check?”

     “That sounds like a reasonable question,” he admitted. “Okay, how about no more impulsive kisses under the stress of the moment?”

     “That won’t wash,” she demurred. “I note the conditional attachments. What about all the rest of the moments which aren’t stressed?”

     “Does that leave the field wide open for interpretation?” he asked back, answering a question with another.

     “You’re the gambler,” she returned. “I guess you’ll have to take your chances whenever.”


     “ ‘Whenever’ doesn’t wait too long,” she prompted, with a meaning look.

     “You mean—like right now?” he asked, caught off guard himself this time.

     “If you have to ask, it’s not gambling, it’s putting the onus on me,” she objected.

     “Uh—okay but, maybe not now—although I’m willing and able—but with all these people around—I’m a bit shy,” he confessed.

     Her laughter made him blush as she told him,

     “That’s about the last thing I’d have thought you were.”

     “Well, get used to the idea, because I am—at least in public.”

     “It’s true, I did see you look upended that time at the party when you got kissed so publicly,” she reminded him.

     “Yeah, I was, particularly since I’d been doing my best to discourage that one. I just can’t handle romantic overtures in front of an audience very well, and I don’t mean the musical kind.”

     “Let’s keep them to ourselves then,” she agreed with a smile. “Go ahead and gamble some other time.”

     “I’ll be on the lookout for opportunities,” he assured her as they saw the children heading back for them.

“Okay crew, let’s have a look at the pretty hens,” he smiled as they came up and then, as they reached the chicken run, “Wow! That’s quite a crowd. Which one’s mine?”

     “There she is, see? The big, fluffy, shiny one,” Bernice pointed out.

     The three hens all looked big, fluffy and shiny to David, but there was one who seemed to have a few more feathers in her tail than the other two.

     “That her right there?” and on being given the affirmative answer, “She’s beautiful all right, but it’s pretty difficult to tell her from the others. I know they’re colour coded, but which colours did I get?”

     “Oh—no problem,” grinned Morgan. “She’s the one with the plain yellow leg band, just like the colour of your plane. Heron figured that one out.”

     “Great thinking! Thanks Heron,” David told the smiling boy standing quietly by.

     “We’re having a big argument with Uncle Nohow,” Therése complained. “He keeps saying that he has the right to her eggs because he’s looking after your interests while you’re away. Is he?”

     “First I’ve heard about it,” grinned David. “I think he’s looking after his own. I’ll have to discuss it with him. Don’t worry. We’ll get it straightened out.”

     “Good. That’s what I told him,” said Isabel.

     “Anyway, he’s leaving with me when I go, so the problem will solve itself,” David added by way of clearing up the problem. “Maybe you all can figure out how to take care of her and her eggs for me, since I won’t be around all the time. I’m sure you’ll come to a fair and equitable solution.”

     “What’s that?” asked Walter.

     “Oh—I mean—she’ll probably lay an egg a day and, like sharing, maybe she’ll give them to each one of you at a time, until I get back again,” David hastily came up with an explanation. “You can decide who gets the first one and who’s next in order.”

     “That sounds really nice!” exclaimed Therése. “Don’t you think so everybody? We can pull our names out of a hat like Dancing Water did for us with the leg bands.”

     That settled the matter—equitably and fairly.

     “If there should be any surplus we can put them aside for baking and things like that,” added Isabel thoughtfully, and got approving nods from the others.

     “Can I give them some food now?” asked David, wanting to get a little closer to his new friend, and thinking that might be a good approach.

     “May I,” corrected Isabel compulsively.

     “I stand corrected, as Rose would say in court,” he admitted laughingly as he followed the children to the lean-to where the feed was kept, “But maybe I should have said ‘may I but I don’t know if I can’, because I’ve never had chickens before.”

     “What! Never? Oh—all right,” conceded Isabel with a gracious, smiling gesture, truly sorry for someone who had never had the pleasure of knowing such delightful and productive friends.

     The chickens, very busy with their own affairs, didn’t care if it was ‘may’ or ‘can’ as long as what they got was good to eat, and David’s generosity certainly took care of that.

     His attempts to get friendly with Fanny weren’t as successful as the chicken feed was though. She regarded him suspiciously, called her chicks and told them to ‘get under’, because she wasn’t sure just what this unfamiliar big man was up to.

     The big man finally decided he’d better give it up for the moment because he figured he was probably scaring her and as well, those on the barge were likely busy getting at the goodies he was sure were waiting, at which point he admitted he was pretty ready for them too.

     “Oh yes, there’s such a lot of good things,” agreed Therése, “Let’s go!

     “See you later Fanny,” David told his pretty big red hen as the group left the chicken run and closed the gate.

     This was one chicken who wasn’t taking anything for granted. She waited until she was quite sure everyone was gone before she let her chicks have their freedom again, as a feeling of normality and security returned to these ruffled members of the Chickie Mansion flock.