Poor Billy. His third Christmas, the first one he would really be old enough to get into and he had to come down with measles.
I'd heard about them but didn't remember anyone having them when I was in school. I talked with Daddy and he said that the majority of kids had vaccine shots and it was pretty rare in this country. Billy's vaccinations were incomplete and it looked like measles had been missed.
Just because the other kids had been vaccinated didn't mean they were totally immune, according to Daddy. It would be tougher to infect them, but having Billy around would be gambling with their health. Since I was Daddy's daughter, I'd had every vaccination known to man when I was growing up and I was a strong as a horse, anyway. I volunteered to take care of him for a while today.
Today was especially hard on the kid. For the past couple of weeks, all the kids had talked about was the Christmas party at the hospital. Every year they put on something for the children's ward but Daddy had drummed up the interest this year and it was going to be the biggest party yet. The husband of one of the nurses was going to dress up as Santa and they'd made some phone calls to the local merchants and I'd gotten some free ads on the radio and there had been a surprising amount of donations, including good old cash, toys and other gifts and services such as free meals and tickets to the ball game and miniature golf.
Laurie, Annette and Billy had all been invited, as had Jaime, the girl they'd befriended who went in for transfusions once a month. Myra and Mary had volunteered to help out and had been up half the night baking cookies. Jack was going to take some pictures, as only Jack can. Sad to say, but some of the pictures he would take were sure to be the last ones taken of some of the children. He was going to make free prints available to parents, no matter the condition of their children. Whether a kid had incurable cancer or had just had his tonsils removed, there was enough effort being put into it that all of them should have an enjoyable few hours.
Today was December 20, and my school was closed for winter vacation. I was way ahead of my home study schedule so I had no qualms about taking most of the week off. Oh, I'd probably read a few chapters of something during vacation, just to keep from slacking off, but I had no doubt I'd be ready to graduate well before my June deadline. Since I had taken control of it, I was actually learning more than I had been in class. There was no question that I'd done the right thing.
Work was going great. George Silverwood's Cabinets was my star client. We'd made a deal that I'd do the web page and make other changes for a percentage in the increase of gross sales. It had been a smart move on my part and, even though George would have made out better if he'd just paid for the work, he was doing so much better that he couldn't complain. Plus, there were a few things I'd done that you couldn't calculate a price for.
George was concentrating on running the salesmen. He'd fired one and hired three more and they were really starting to produce. Claude, Charlie's father, was put in charge of production. He passed things by George once in a while, but for the most part, he ran the shop area.
The web page, with Jack's pictures, made a big difference. We also advertised on a couple of radio stations (who I hit up for the free ads for the hospital) and they were bringing in a lot of business.
The biggest beef I had about George's operation was that the shop itself wasn't visitor friendly. I'd had the phone ring a good fifteen or twenty times before being answered on several occasions and had to help myself the first time I entered the empty lobby. I told George he needed a receptionist and he told me how he'd tried and it was impossible to find someone reliable and presentable since his mother retired from the position several years before. I told him I'd keep my eyes open but he didn't seem to think I could do any good.
Wanda called a few nights later. We talked for almost three hours. Jack saw what was going on, made dinner and brought mine in to our room on a tray so I could eat while talking to her.
She was feeling sorry for herself. She knew she over reacted with Daddy. She didn't want to get back with him but she realized the guy she'd been staying with was a loser and it was time to cut herself loose. Her major concern was that she didn't have a job. I talked to her about Silverwood and I could hear her stop feeling sorry for herself and start getting excited.
We met the next day and I took her over there. George was thrilled. The radio ads had kicked in and people were stopping by to check them out and he'd had to pull one of the carpenters off the floor to answer phones and be there when somebody came in the door.
George offered her a decent hourly wage and told Wanda there would be a standard commission for her if she sold any jobs.
A few days ago he told me she was doing a hell of a job and his sales were growing in leaps and bounds. He wanted to give me free kitchen cabinets as a reward. Now, I don't want to put down my home, but let's face it. We live over a garage. The cabinets we have are nothing special, but they're only a few months old. And I don't plan on living here forever. I told him to make the cabinets but to set up a display room in the lobby. There's a lot of wasted space there and he's got people tramping through the shop to see what he builds in person. I mean, Jack's pictures are fantastic and I've built a spectacular web page, but there's nothing like looking at the real thing. And George's cabinets do cost some bucks.
Billy spent the night with us. He got scared sleeping on the couch all by himself and we didn't really want him in our bed. Jack sat down with him and they decided he was going to camp out in our room. Jack brought the cushions in from the couch, then put his sleeping bag on top of them. Billy was thrilled, especially when I told Bozo to lie down next to him. He was asleep with a smile on his face, snuggled up to my dog with his arm around him before Jack turned off the light.
Jack was up early. He came in and woke me after he'd taken his shower. He had a cup of coffee in his thermal cup and one for me in my big mug. He was going to take Mary to the Coco's near the hospital to have breakfast with Daddy, Myra, the three girls and Jaime's grandmother.
"Are you going to be OK?" he asked me.
"Sure. Now that I've got some help here, we can make Christmas cookies."
"OK. I'm going to let Bozo out to do his thing."
He gave me a kiss and he and Bozo left the bedroom.
Billy was sitting up, rubbing his eyes.
"Do you have to go potty?"
He nodded his head so I took him down the hall and into the bathroom. He's old enough to use the toilet by himself but he needs help getting dressed when he's done.
We flushed, pulled his pajamas up and washed his hands.
"Do you want to get dressed now or after breakfast?"
"OK. Do you want eggs or cereal? I've got Cocoa Puffs."
That was no surprise. He'd eaten breakfast twice while I was around, and both times it was Cocoa Puffs.
I got him belted in his high chair and poured him a bowl of cereal. Billy doesn't put milk in his cereal and he doesn't use a spoon. He just grabs a handful and sort of shoves it in his face.
I grabbed the full coffee pot and heard a scratching noise under the sink. I opened up the cabinet door and it seemed to be coming from the waste basket. A tall kitchen trash can won't fit under there but I found that the kind you use in an office will. We got a four pack of them at Sam's and had them spread throughout the apartment.
I grabbed the top and slid it out a bit so I could see what was making all the racket. There was a mouse, trying to get out. I guess the sides were too slippery and too straight up for him to climb out so he'd jump, bounce off the side, hit the bottom and jump again.
"Got you, you little fucker."
It was just something that came out. I'd spent a small fortune on mouse bait and sticky traps, trying to figure out where I could put them so that my dog wouldn't get into them but they would still catch or kill the mouse that had invaded my kitchen and had been taunting me for almost a month. Of course, for all I know, this could be the great grandchild of the one I first saw.
The trash can was empty except for the mouse. I emptied the coffee pot on top of him and voila! No more mouse! Well, no live mouse, anyway.
Now before you go all PETA on me, consider what we normally use to kill the little rodents. Spring powered traps that almost cut them in half, glue traps that hold on to them as they writhe in agony, entangling themselves more and more until they suffocate, mouse bait that dries up their insides over several days until they finally succumb. As far as I'm concerned, it was pretty compassionate and humane to end his life in a couple of seconds as I did.
Bozo had finished fertilizing the yard or whatever he does first thing in the morning and had made his way back just in time to be interested in what I was doing.