Note: We've had so much fun with serialized stories that I'm trying my hand at one again! Here's the next installment of a new adventure for Cara Mia Delgatto and her friends. To read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 scroll to the bottom of the blog where it says OLDER POSTS.
Greta was drying her eyes when Poppy wandered in, making his way past the other tables, greeting diners and shaking hands. Since the closing of my grandfather's gas station and bait shop, he's been at loose ends. Normally a workaholic, Poppy doesn't know what to do with himself.
"Granddaughter? Have you made this poor woman cry?"
Trust Poppy to draw attention when I was hoping he'd let a tough situation slide.
Pulling him next to me in the booth, I shushed him. Then Skye and I tried to explain what had happened with Helen Berger and her cockatoo.
"I know Helen," said my grandfather. "Used to bring her car in all the time to have it serviced. Nice woman. How come she can't have that there pet of hers in your facility?"
Greta explained about the health department. Poppy, to my surprise, listened carefully. "But them birds don't need to be kept indoors. So what are you on about?"
All three of us women blinked at each other. Finally, I broke the silence. "Come again? What do you mean, Poppy?"
At that moment, Honora joined us. "I saw Dick walk in. EveLynn just dropped me off, so I hope I'm not intruding?"
Of course, Skye and I had explained to her and MJ why we had come back without the bird. They met Greta as she picked up Kookie's gear. Honora had been quietly emotional when we told her about the reunion between Kookie and Helen. To accommodate our newcomers, Greta scooted over so Honora could sit beside her, while Poppy dragged over a chair. It didn't take long to get them up to speed with an explanation about Mr. Salazar, his threats, and the Health Department.
Poppy took over from there. "Don't none of you remember Parrot Jungle? That place outside of Miami? It was a bird sanctuary, of sorts. You could pay your entrance fee to walk around and look at the birds. Cara, didn't your parents take you there when you was young?"
A vague memory gathered form and substance. "Tiki huts. Coconut thatch roofs. Big cages, A winding sidewalk. Shows. They did shows, didn't they? The handlers brought out the birds so they could do tricks."
"That's right," my grandfather nodded encouragingly. "They done moved that whole shooting match to an island. Now they call it Jungle Island, 'cause it's more than birds. Suppos'd to look like the Everglades. Point being, that bird don't need to be inside. Exceptin' in really bad weather maybe. If you put it right outside her window, Helen could enjoy Kookie and the Health Department cain't say a word about that."
Honora's mouth trembled. "Dick, dear, I don't think you know the full story. There is no landscaping at Martin Gardens. None. For someone to service Kookie's cage--clean it, change his water, and whatnot--they'd have to wade through mud and weeds."
That prompted an explanation of the financial dilemma faced by Mr. Boehner. My grandfather impressed me by listening carefully. As he stroked his chin, Greta rooted around in her purse. "I actually have with me a brochure that illustrates what the finished landscaping would have looked like."
Poppy squinted at the image. "You got the plans?"
"Yes, of course. They're in my desk back at work."
"Shoot-fire. What are we waiting for? Alls we need to do is grab ourselves a half dozen railroad ties, gravel, paving stones and concrete. Then we pour the walkways. Once you got them down, half the battle's won. Seems to me, you're talking about getting through the muck, right? That can be tough when you're using one of them walker do-jobbies."
"Who's going to pay for all this?" I asked.
Poppy leaned back in his seat, crossed his arms over his chest, and glared at me. "Ain't you your father's daughter? Good old Thomas Delgatto wouldn't have set still for this kinda nonsense. He'd a found a way to get it done. Tell you what. There's more'n a handful of people in this town who owe me favors. I'll see what I can round up. You, Granddaughter, need to visit that friend of your'n whose an architect. Dollars to donuts, he's got extra supplies he can write off. Laborers? What about that young man whose been squiring you around town? The project manager? Bet he could spare a warm body or two."
"We could do a fundraiser at the store," said Skye, as her eyes snapped with energy. "Bring in a flower, and you get to draw a discount from a jar. Wouldn't that help?"
Honora nodded. "I can contact all the clubs I belong to. Maybe if each club would buy a shrub--"
"That rhymes," giggled Skye.
Honora nodded, "Then we'd be most of the way along to doing the landscaping."
"Make it so," said my grandfather, winking at me. When my jaw dropped, he added, "Sid introduced me to Jean Luc Piccard. I been missing Star Trek!"
~ To Be Continued ~
Author's Note: Of course, just because our friends have come up with a solution doesn't mean the problem will go away. Not hardly!
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