"Get ready baby, we have to be at Jon's by 10:00 am if Bonnie and I are going to do everything today and still make dinner for you guys tonight!"
Trey Van Duck nodded her acceptance of the task with a mixed feeling of dread as well as an understanding that this was something she wanted, no needed, to do.
Since coming to live with Marge, even the simplest things became both a challenge and a sense of accomplishment to the 9 year old. She often wondered what it would be like to be able to run and play like the 'normal' kids. Ever since she had...
No use 'wishing things that might have been', life was so very different now. First learning English, at least fairly well, now having to do 'normal' things and by herself was what she always had hoped for, to learn and try to live a more normal life. It was hard without legs. Even the clothes and dressers were a challenge, let alone using the bathroom.
Things were so very high, there was no way to reach so high, now there was even this added thing, time, she had to do it, she did not want her new foster mother to become angry with her, to send back to get yet another caregiver or to live in that group home.
Marge needed the money. Things had gone from bad to worse with the divorce. Her Ex did not pay on-time, rent and utilities had skyrocketed and her job had gone away last month. If it was not for the food stamps, foster care monies and tightening the belt on extras, she could not make it. She had not been out in 6 months. No where, nothing, Nada.
Her threat to garnish his wages brought 6 months of alimony in. What a Godsend it was. She was using this to start her own business. She had an accounting degree in College and the addition of doing medical records, billing and filing HIPPA forms for local doctors seemed like a good blend.
Starting out at home would work well, she could work from home and avoid most babysitting charges. Today, Jon in 3-B had agreed to watch Trey Van Duck for the afternoon. They had a lot in common, she thought. Bonnie took this as an rare opportunity to go with her, Jon would watch Sheila too.
Bonnie and Sheila was sisters. Bonnie was 18, Sheila 11. They did not have a lot in common until their parents were involved in a truck, car, bus accident last month.
California was always bad traffic, the medical bills had piled up trying to save the parents. Air lift service were $18,800 to even get them to an emergency room. The medical bills exceeded $450,000.
Insurances were slow paying, the house was up for sale, but nothing yet; and the lawyers wanted 40-45% of anything they got if they took the case Bonnie was considering.
The fact that she was considered an adult at 18, was named in the will and indeed her name was on the house already, would mean she would be granted custody of Sheila. Sheila had not spoken since the accident. Bonnie had met Marge through the Accounting work needed to get things ready for the IRS filings.
Thank God she took far less than others had wanted for the work. They had became friends because of Marge's caring.
When the house would finally be sold at least some money would be coming in, probably before the insurances or any lawsuit. No decision of who was a fault had been rendered, the double indemnity clauses precluded an early payout. If she 'borrowed the money, she would be paying 28% for the 'privilege' of paying bills with her own money. It did not seem 'fair'. Then again it was not 'fair' she and her sister were an orphan either.
There was Bonnie, she considered renting in the same complex that Marge was in when the house sold. Marge even told her that if the new home business took off, she would have need for help and Bonnie could work from home with her.
In a way Marge dreaded that, it would mean 1 or 2 more rooms and greater expenses, but, in-time, it would work out; especially if Bozo paid the alimony as scheduled.
This outing would see both girls getting their hair done, lunch out, shopping and they all would have a BBQ at Bonnie's that night.
Jon should enjoy going somewhere too. IEDs were the main reason Jon lost his legs in Iraq. That and the terrible medical treatment. By the time he was taken to Germany for care, it was too late to save them.
Marge had known Jon both from her Accounting business and then filing a ton of medical and HIPPA forms that had his name on them. It had been over 2 years now but she hesitated on asking him to go out.
Watching Trey Van Duck was an easy way to see him more. People would talk, why did she, a 'whole' girl want anything to do with a 'cripple'?
It was an easy answer, if she ever felt anyone deserved it, Jon was a 'nice' guy. She enjoyed his company, and since she had gotten to know him more, had been the victim of the paper 'bureaucracy', like her.
This was going to be a really big day. Not only would it be the first time two women had agreed to be around him, they were putting him in-charge of their most valuable possession, their 'family'.
OK! So it was a foster kid and a sister, but for Jon, it was the first time since the explosion and months of pain, that he was being given a chance to be a person again.
He had artificial limbs; but they hurt, and he hated them. Trey Van Duck was a victim too, she had the misfortune to find an 'old' land mine. Millions had been left behind, both sides, over many wars had used them.
For a kid though, she was alone, in a strange country and caught in the 'system' since her sponsor family opted not to keep her. Maybe he could even help. There were a lot of 'Vets' who felt something good should be done for injured people like her.
He did not know much about Bonnie however; just that her parents were killed, that she was 18 and her sister 11. Sounded like the 9 and 11 would enjoy what he had been planning, certainly the BBQ later at Bonnie's house would be a hit.
Marge had brought over 3 DVDs, 6 books and a box of kid games. He was serving Pizza, Chicken and Popcorn during the day. The time should go fast. They were due here at 10:00 am or so and the BBQ would start at 7pm.
What a day! Things were tough for everyone so this was a great change of pace. They needed to get away, he needed friends. Everyone would get something today.
The door bell rang. "It's open, come in" he yelled.
First Marge, carrying Trey Van Duck came in, then just a few seconds later Bonnie leading a frightened Sheila.
Jon was on the floor, ice packs near his stubs with his back against the couch. He wore shorts, no shirt and on the floor, the start of a huge picture puzzle.
"Welcome you guys! I hope you two can help me with this, it's really hard?"
If anything could be better for Trey Van Duck and Sheila than seeing a grown up, handicapped like they were, in a way, asking for help, it was not known.
Very shortly three sets of hands were sorting, stacking and otherwise spreading 1,000 puzzle pieces all about the floor. Jon had the windows open, a breeze was blowing and there were five or six pillows and light blankets on the couch.
Pointing to them, Jon said, "In case they need to nap. They can get comfy too, it's not often the weather is so nice. The BBQ tonight is a perfect cap. There are more cold or ice packs in the fridge if Trey Van Duck needs some too. This may end up a floor activity day."
Marge and Bonnie looked at each other, took one look at the remarkable sight of all three on the floor, no tears, smiles on their faces and stripped the two girls to comfy but not too 'public' attire. For a 9 and 11 year old though, they wore things a 'family' member might around the house.
Marge did get some cool packs, placed them near Jon, while Bonnie put several paper cups, juice, soda, ice tea and water on the area near the chair. They all; could crawl or reach it from where they were at. Jon's home had made most everything reachable, unlike Marge's.
With a 'thumbs up' sign and mouthed kisses and 'thank you' Marge left, followed by a stunned Bonnie.
When they got outside, Bonnie only said "I have never seen anything like it. What is he, the 'Pied Piper' of Santa Monica? Both kids were oblivious to us leaving!"
"Beats me girl! Also they seemed so at ease wearing so little, it's like they were at home with a brother or a 'Daddy'."
Marge had to reflect on that comment. All three of them had bonded instantly. A small tear formed. Taking in Trey Van Duck had been just a money thing. In the past month though, it became much more.
She was starting to think of the girl as her own. When the reaction to Jon came about, all she could think of was that the sight was as close to a family that she had never had.
Both of them had a full day planned. Like all women, shopping at a mall meant 'girly' things galore. Some of the outfits were not really meant for outdoors but this BBQ tonight would be a 'perfect' opportunity to 'reward' Jon for his thoughtfulness.
Bonnie asked Marge what she would be wearing tonight. After a few giggles, both decided that the see through 'harem' outfits would be well received by Jon; and Marge was taking him back after the BBQ and thought it might set up a friendly mood.
Bonnie then had a thought that maybe they both would want to stay the night. It had been a very bad and lonely time for the girls, and Jon was a 'nice' guy, a guy anyway. She hoped he was not 'too nice'.
Lunch was quick at the mall. The haircut turned into more when a friend of Marge, decided to treat her and Bonnie to nails and a massage.
The trip home, after 3 glorious hours at the spa was followed by food shopping for the BBQ, going by Bonnie's house, getting things put away and Bonnie starting salad, wrapping corn, potatoes and making burgers and kebobs for the grill while Marge got things outside clean and ready.
The new BBQ outfits were readied in the Bathroom.
They went back to pick up Jon and the girls, it was near 4:40 pm, traffic was always heavy even on a Saturday.
Jon and the girls ended up completing the 'Mount Rushmore' puzzle in near world record time. These 'rug rats' were really smart.
After some juice and water; Jon held out two choices to them, DVD or books? Like he should have known. "Both" said Trey Van Duck, Sheila just nodded.
No one wanted Popcorn and after the first movie, Jon called for Pizza and Chicken. While they waited he started on one of the 'Winnie The Whatever' books he thought were age appropriate. He noticed that one of his stumps was sore. placing, on an ice pack, he asked Trey Van Duck if she needed 1 or 2. They would both wear artificial limbs at the BBQ or try to.
2 she said. He handed 1 to Sheila to hold in place, and Trey Van Duck took another. Soon the food came.
Kids all over seem to enjoy Pizza and Chicken. It made for a heavy lunch but after all, the BBQ was a bit late, but this was a treat though.
"Nap or more story?" Jon asked.
Sheila handed him the 'Illustrated Tales Of Merlin and King Arthur'. He started reading. He decided if these kids wanted he would play teacher and started pointing to various words.
He was soon amazed. Both girls got every word right. He said he was getting tired of reading, maybe they should stretch out and take a nap. He got two volunteers, to continue the book.
That got a smile as he leaned back wrapping an arm around each girl as they handed the book back and forth to each other to read more.
With the breeze keeping the room comfortable, the body heat kept them all cozy, they all were soon cuddled up and sleeping.
That was how Marge and Bonnie found them. Their heads were resting on Jon's chest, all three had a look on their face like they were sharing the same wonderful dream or adventure.
Sheila saw or heard them first. "Oh no, we need to finish the story first."
Jon spoke up too. "your share of the Pizza and Chicken is $11.58, it was good; right you two?"
Both Marge and Bonnie just stared at Jon. It was like he was purple and they could not comprehend anyone being purple. The reaction was for different reasons though.
Bonnie started to tear up. Jon did the man thing, "OK, don't cry. it was only $11.50." He laughed.
Bonnie did two things, she ran up and hugged Sheila and cried out that it was the first words she had spoken since their parents had been killed. The doctors said it was her way of dealing with the tragedy.
Marge said she too had something to ask, but it could wait till later.
Although the sight of two girls snuggled on top of a adult male was very common with a father and daughters, but not one you would expect with 3 near strangers. Yet all three had acted as though they had known each other their entire life. Marge and Bonnie were deep in thought on the drive back home.
Leaving Jon's apartment further resulted in wide-eyed stares. Trey Van Duck and Jon both put on their artificial legs. In a way that bore no semblance of understanding both wordlessly helped each other putting them on.
There also seemed no concern when Marge held out the sundress to Trey Van Duck, who handed it to Jon. He helped pull off her shorts(She wore no top). then held up her arms for him to slip the dress over her, sliding it down. The brief time in she was partially clothed did not seem to affect anyone.
Like copy cats, Sheila also had to have Jon strip her, help us her out of shirt and shorts and repeat the sundress ritual. Walking to the car saw Jon on the left, Trey Van Duck on the right with Sheila between them, arms holding both, as if their support.
Marge and Bonnie still could not fathom that these were the same girls they had brought there just this morning. To an onlooker, the act of walking seemed a practiced routine. Marge and Bonnie both shook their heads.
When they got to the house, the walking ritual was repeated with some new twist added. There was a step up to get into the house. Jon lifted Trey Van Duck up the step, she held him while Sheila helped him up, then they continued to the door and waited.
Marge and Bonnie were just standing there, amazed by what they had seen. Sheila called out to her Sis, "to open the door already". Bonnie whispered to Marge if these were the same kids they had brought to Jon just this morning.
Back when they left they both were crying, clingy and seemed to need even the slightest thing done for them. The scene now was that they seemed confident, happy and worked as a team to overcome any obstacle that was presented.
Even Jon seemed to take on the role of a father figure, at 23, he was too young to have a 9 year old daughter, let alone a 11 year old. Yet that seemed the role he was playing with these two. Only a few hours ago each had nothing, now, it seemed, they were inseparable.
Sheila unlocked then opened the door to their former parents house. As they walked in, now it was Jon and Trey Van Duck's turn to just stare. The house was bigger than anything either had ever seen. Sheila delighted in the fact she could play hostess to the two.
Five bedrooms, a large kitchen with pantry, 3 baths, a living room, dining room, library/den and a utility room; they were making the tour a real event. Then, as she pulled the drapes open, the French doors showed a covered patio/deck. Outside was the green lawn, a landscaped garden, hot tub and large pool were visible.
OH's and AH's followed by several exclamations in awe were heard. The little girl beamed. She might only be 11 but from the pride she showed in the house made it seemed she had intimate knowledge of the secrets held there.
It was the house she had lived in all her life and the reaction Jon and Trey Van Duck had shown confirmed her feelings for them. Yes, even at 11, Sheila was once again feeling she had a family, new friends at least. Maybe Bonnie could fill the role of Mommy, Marge even. Jon seemed to be able to fill the role of Daddy, with or without real legs.
Sheila came back in, resumed her position between her new 'friends' and calmly announced they would wait outside while Marge and Bonnie should start the BBQ.
To see Sheila take charge of something, someone actually, was near to a miracle. Both Marge and Bonnie did not know what to make of it. With open mouths they both went into the kitchen. Marge spoke first. "Well I'll be damned! What happened to those kids? Are we in 'Stepford' or something?"
"These aren't the same two, no three, we left this morning. There is something different about them. All three act like they have known each other all their life. What gives?"
"You sure your sister is just 11? Was that really my foster kid Trey Van Duck? Why is Jon looking so good right now too? Holy shit, I don't know how this all took place while we were gone?"
They started carrying things outside. Bonnie dropped what she was carrying, lucky it was the paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic knives, forks and spoons; she pointed to the pool.
Marge at least put the salad and dressing down. Both were gazing at the pool. The three were splashing around, sort of being pulled by Sheila while Jon and Trey Van Duck floated. What stunned them was what they were wearing, or better said, not wearing. Their artificial legs were neatly stacked on top of their clothes. All their clothes.
Bonnie broke the ice when she told Marge that it was no big deal. Jon didn't have anything that Sheila had not already seen at the nude beach their parents often took them to.
Reflecting, Marge thought back to Trey Van Duck's early childhood and the 'normal' swimming wear in Cambodia. She had never seen Jon this way. Damn, she thought, now she wondered why she had waited so long to get to know him better.
Sheila climbed out of the pool as her charges just floated on their backs, holding hands.
"I taught them how to float! Isn't it neat? Get in, we want to try the deep end but none of use can reach too far."
Marge and Bonnie looked at each other, then the two in the pool, then finally the dripping 11 year old in front of them. With a shrug, the two women lowered their dresses, skinned down their underwear and with a shout, said something like "Last one is does the dishes!"
"I need the potty first!" Sheila laughed, she saw the paper plates and cups lying on the ground, she picked them up, placed them next to the salad and went inside. Yep, this was one time she would not mind doing dishes after.
Marge reminded Bonnie clean up would be easy tonight.
Bonnie said that it did not matter. The nude swim would make it easier for all of them. Marge was a bit jealous. She had thought of Jon as hers, not intending for a 'show and tell'.
'OH well!' she thought, 'When in Rome!' but where were the togas?
The little minx was back from inside and walking to the pool. This time it was not the walk of a 11 year old, rather like a runway model stride. Her sister commented that if she was 18 like her, there would be several proposals of marriage or to spend the night at least.
"Damn!" Are you sure she is just 11 Bonnie?"
If Jon had been looking, he might have voiced a similar comment, but he and Trey Van Duck were still holding hands, looking up and floating in the shallow end of the pool.
The splash of two more girls jumping in was a shock. The 'casual' attire made Jon take a second, admiring look. Both of them were natural blonds, of that there was no doubt.
That look was shared as Marge and Bonnie stared at a part of Jon's anatomy that indicated his arousal of their diving into the pool.
The scene of the five of them frolicking in the pool made a fine 'family' photo. It also elicited a comment from Bonnie how sad it was without her Mom and Dad, followed by a remark from Sheila that she never wanted to leave this house.
That brought up the discussion that Marge was keen to discuss. The idea had been sparked by Jon's earlier request for them to share in the cost of Pizza and Chicken. He had been kidding, of course, but it raised an interesting possibility.
Bonnie started to get out of the pool. Marge thought she was teasing Jon with the way she only got one leg out of the pool. If there was still any doubt that she was a natural blond, this left no doubt. The thought, 'brazen hussy' crossed Marge's mind, then she was disappointed she had not thought of it herself.
She swam to the edge where Bonnie seemed to have a 'hard' time getting out and placed one foot up next to hers. She too confirmed being a natural blond. Both grinned at each other, looked at Jon and got out. Sheila asked, "What was that? Sis never had any trouble getting out before!"
"It was a woman thing, Hon. In a few years you'll understand the 'rules' when it comes to a man."
Jon was a man. He had bravely fought, killed and almost died defending those things most people still believed in.
What he did not understand was 'women', girls even for that matter. All he knew was that since their arrival, he had never felt this way before. They all seemed to be one happy 'family'.
'Soon it will be over!' he thought. The look on his face became sad. That is, until he got a face full of pool water. The 'tickle' monsters had attacked him!
Tear Jerker /