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, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 scroll to the bottom of the blog where it says OLDER POSTS.
Before he took off, Salazar made one last attempt to save his bacon. "Mr. Boehner, I was only trying to--"
"To squash the human spirit? To make sure that a woman who took initiative was punished for her ingenuity? For her concern for our customers? Or maybe you were trying to set up your nephew in Ms. Morgan's job? Whatever you were trying to do, I'm not interested in you doing it on my dime. Now please leave, Jose. I don't want to have to tell you again." With that, Jay Boehner put a hand on Freddie's shoulder and asked, "Are you ready to get back to fixing that palm tree? We have a lot more to do before the sun goes down."
At five, a food truck showed up. It was white with lettering that announced, "TACOS," and a zesty, colorful image on one side that beckoned our hungry crew. Later I would learn that Boehner had mysteriously located the owner and asked him to come and serve all the volunteers dinner. Mr. Boehner picked up the tag, but we didn't know that until we got ready to pay. The fragrant mixture of cumin, peppers, and onions made my mouth water. The tacos and burritos proved themselves as good as their smell had promised. Greta and Freddie made a drinks run and came back with cold cans of soda, lemonade, and bottles of water.
When the sun finally started sinking around seven-thirty, there wasn't much left to finish. Where once mud stretched on and on, the residents now looked out at a gazebo. In the far right hand corner sat tiny marked rows of a vegetable garden. Fig trees formed a backdrop, as did a few lime, lemon, and orange trees. To the left trickled a water feature that emptied into a shallow basin. If you traced a triangle around the gazebo, you could pinpoint the locations of three huge bird cages. Flight cages, I think they're called. Kookie's cage was snuggled up against the window of Helen's room. Once or twice during the long work day, I saw a pale face rise and stare out at us, as Helen took notice of our efforts. Kookie had been surprisingly quiet throughout the hustle and bustle. Skye went to his cage several times, offering him grapes and tidbits. He took them and promptly dropped them to the floor of his home.
I had to hand it to Cooper, because he'd worked with his landscaping buddies to insure that the majority of the plants were heat, fungus, white fly,and mold resistant. Although a sprinkler system had been installed, most of the plants would be fine without help once they'd put down roots. Cooper had also worked with his people to keep the walkways accessible for those whose mobility was impaired. He'd thoughtfully installed lights along the edges so the space could be enjoyed in the evening.
Our customers had played their part, too. Because Sid had checked with Cooper early on, we'd asked that they bring plants that would flourish such as penta, periwinkles, hibiscus, Mexican heather, and bougainvillea. While I'd given out a healthy number of discount vouchers, I figured that I'd break even because a lot of people were introduced to my store because of our good works.
James "Jay" Boehner walked up to people, shook their hands, and personally thanked them for their help. He was deep in conversation with Cooper when my employees and I decided we'd had enough for one day. I went to find Greta to tell her we were leaving. She was ready to go home, too. The assistant administrator promised to make sure the grounds were vacated, and all the volunteers were thanked and sent home. Since he'd come in at three, he was still energetic. Greta looked as exhausted as I felt.
Freddie had proved himself to be a charming young man. He was lavish with his affection for his mother. By the time we were ready to call it a day, he'd worked his backside off--as had we all. "I'm going to drive him back to his residence," said Greta, giving me a hug. "I can't thank you and your friends enough for all you've done. I'd like to have a public open house next month so I can properly honor you and all the volunteers. Will you promise to attend?"
"Of course. But we want you and Freddie to stand over here, please." After I arranged them next to us and grabbed a passer-by, we all posed for a photo. Once the mother and son left, MJ, Skye, Poppy, Sid, Honora, EveLynn, and I posed for a selfie that I planned to add to our website. I was sending the picture to my email account when Greta came trotting back. "I forgot to tell you that Helen seems better. It can't possibly last, but I think her spirits were much cheered by the activity."
While I was grateful to hear the good news, I was so tired I could barely stand up. So I gave Greta another filthy hug. My friends and I fairly wobbled to our cars.
~ To Be Continued ~
Well, dear hearts. We're almost done. But wait...I know you want to hear what happens next. And I want to know too, so there's ONE more installment. I'm saving it for Mother's Day! Hugs and kisses-- j