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, 1, and 12 scroll to the bottom of the blog where it says OLDER POSTS.
It took us a week to get everything organized. Knowing that the pieces wouldn't come together quickly, Poppy volunteered to handle getting Kookie's cage in place so that he and Helen wouldn't be separated. I brought him lunch the first day. His ability to think through the steps amazed me. He'd paced off where the walkways would go, and he'd measured how much room to leave on all sizes of the cage. Before pouring a concrete pad, he'd figured out how to attach the legs so that the cage could be replaced, if and when it disintegrated, as does a lot of metal so near the ocean.
On the second day, I stopped by bright and early to find him constructing a Tiki Hut sort of roof that would fit over the cage.
"Gotta give the bird a way to get out of the hot sun. Mother Nature's materials are best. The roofs are made from Florida palms. See? The heat goes right through them, but they keep it cool because the air circulates underneath." My grandfather lectured me as he stapled the thatching on to the frame. "This here'll last for years and years."
Meanwhile, my old boyfriend Cooper Rivers had been working magic. He went to all his current clients and asked that each of them contribute a small portion of supplies toward the landscaping job. While he did that, MJ and Skye set up a sale. Sid wrote the ads, made posters and fliers, and called the news outlets. Each customer who brought in a plant or shrub could draw a discount from a fishbowl. While I wondered how effective the sale would be, I figured it couldn't hurt and it might work.
Meanwhile, I talked to our friend Detective Lou Murray. Lou spoke to his pals on the police force. There were scads of people scheduled to do community service, so Lou suggested that they all show up on Saturday, once week hence, to pitch in.
Not surprisingly, MJ had a landscaper she's been dating. With a bit of arm twisting, she managed to get him on board. He sent a crew out to prep the grounds. "If I can take off a week to go on a cruise with him, he'll oversee the whole job at no cost to us."
I was happy enough to agree, but Skye stopped me. "Don't you think we should do something for all these area businesses that are chipping in?"
"What did you have in mind?" I chewed my lip. If she was proposing that we pay them, I didn't know where I'd find the money.
"I figured I could paint signs on driftwood. I can put names on them. They can go on a fingerpost, you know. That's one of those--"
"Those signposts with all the small pieces pointing in a variety of directions," Honora finished for her. "That sounds positively splendid!"
I concurred. Seeing all this happy industry made me proud. But it also made me worried. I'd stayed in close contact with Greta Morgan, the administrator at Martin Gardens. From her daily reports, I'd learned that Helen Berger was failing rapidly. "Her will to live is strong, but her body systems are struggling. The cancer has spread. We're giving her morphine. As you might imagine, she's sleeping more and more. It's common for people who are actively dying to turn away from their loved ones and pets. There's a different focus. Rather than looking to the outside world, they turn inward. It's a very natural process. She isn't eating. That's her body's way of shutting down."
Would our project be done in time for Helen to enjoy it? To see it? To know that her love was the spark that light our fires?
~ To Be Continued ~
Author's Note: Obviously this short story has gotten out of hand! That happens sometimes. A story will be as long as it needs to be, and that's my "story" and I'm sticking to it! So show me some love, peeps! If you haven't "liked" my Facebook page, please do. If you haven't told a friend about this serialized (not so short) story, please do. If you haven't written a review of one of my books, please do. All those activities mean so much to me--and they keep me writing. But what means the MOST is knowing that what I do matters. So email me or "talk" to me on Facebook. Sometimes this is a lonely business. I rely on you to keep me going. Much love--j