CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-TWO
Time and location classified
“So what happened?” Lientenant Colonel Alexandra “The Fey” Hargreaves said.
“The first time I called, they were ‘too busy’ to come to the phone,” John Drayson, MD said. “I was exhausted so Jill told me to sleep. She said they would call if the kids missed me.”
“If?” Alex laughed.
“I know,” John said, laughing.
“Did they call?” Alex asked.
“No!” John said in his voice artificially indignant.
She laughed. He loved the sound of her laugh. For a long moment, he simply listened to her laugh.
“So what did you do?” she asked, with laughter still in her voice. “Did you go there?”
“Of course I went there,” John said. “These are our children! I had to be sure they were safe!”
“Uh-huh,” Alex said.
He laughed at her comment. He could hear her smiling at him over the satellite link.
“I knew they have specific meal times,” John said.
“Like ours?” Alex asked.
“Less specific on breakfast,” John said.
“Because some of them work construction, right?” Alex asked. “That must be a real mess right now.”
“Yeah,” John said. “Jacob said it’s crazy, but they are still working.”
“That’s good,” Alex said. “They have a lot of employees.”
“Job sharing,” John said.
“Wow, what a pain!” Alex said.
John nodded. Alex waited for him to get back to the point. But he was so tired that he seemed to just fade out.
“Did you visit the kids?” Alex asked.
“Sorry, I was miles away,” John said. “This fucking virus, I swear.”
“It’s horrible,” Alex said.
“Anyway, I went at dinner,” John said. “They were all outside with Jacob on the barbecue. Everyone had masks on.”
“Even the kids?” Alex asked.
“Even the kids,” John said. “Have you seen kids in face masks?”
“Some,” Alex said.
“They are so cute,” John said. “Anyway, Holmes and Hermes are there now.”
“And our kids?” Alex asked.
“Oh, right, I’m updating you,” John said. “Just so tired.”
“I know,” Alex said.
“The kids are so happy,” John said. “They spent the morning playing and the afternoon learning about bees from Delphie. They made bee food for her hives and for ours. They took a field trip to our hives to feed them too.”
“Delphie’s the best,” Alex said.
“It was really all of them,” John said. “Beau had an accident and Honey helped him. Beau told me that Honey told him that it was normal for someone his size.”
“She would know,” Alex said. “Maggie was tiny.”
“It was just such a gift,” John said. “He’s not as ashamed. It’s like… magic. Máire told me that she was able to spend time with the older kids in the morning. Valerie was learning how to knit from Delphie so they tried it. Of course, Noelle picked it up right away. Máire showed me the scarf she’d started.”
“Very impressive,” Alex said.
“Actually, it was,” John said. “Joey said he was with Mike in his art studio. Mike set him up with paint and he even made something that’s… Well, I’m his father.”
“A masterpiece?” Alex asked.
“Indeed,” John said.
“And Chase?” Alex asked.
“Chase and Beau played with Connor and the twins — Bladen and Tanner,” John said.
“They are in heaven,” Alex said. “We’re never going to get them to come home.”
“I tell myself that they miss us,” John said with a laugh.
“Did you eat?” Alex asked.
“After visiting Julie,” John said. “They were barbecuing buffalo. They had tables six feet apart and each table had a fire or a chiminea to keep the air flowing. It was safe enough for Jabari and Jeraine to come out. I… It was really nice. Normal. Even with the masks, it felt normal.”
“Wonderful,” Alex said. “How is Julie?”
“Healing slowly,” John said.
“Poor Julie,” Alex said. “Colin says that she sounds horrible.”
“She’s a lot better than she was,” John said. “Paddie too.”
“And Connor?” Alex asked.
“Completely well,” John said. “His little immune system kicked the virus right away.”
“Amazing,” Alex said. “Are you glad you took the kids to the Castle?”
“Yes and no,” John said. “I miss them, probably more than they miss me or you.”
“That’s a fact,” Alex said with a laugh.
“I’m glad that they are safe,” John said. “They’re very serious about the virus there. Masks, hand sanitizer… Jake even set up an outside hand washing station. I saw the kids reminding each other to wash their hands.”
“Wow,” Alex said. “It’s hard to get adults to do that.”
“Well, Jabari’s sick,” John said. “So it’s really clear that kids can get sick. But the adults remind them too.”
“Makes sense,” Alex said. She paused for a moment trying to figure out how to phrase her next question. “Your siblings actually kicked the kids out?”
“Well,” John sighed. “They do have an Irish thing today, no, yesterday. Whatever. I just thought the kids would be happier around other kids. I feel guilty about it but…”
“Sometimes we have to hand off our loved ones to focus on our work,” Alex said.
“That’s what we say about your work,” John said.
“Exactly,” Alex said. “You’re a soldier in the war of Covid-19.”
She could hear him nodded.
“Rest, my love,” Alex said. “Thank you for taking care of everyone so perfectly.”
“You think?” John asked.
“I know,” Alex said. “I can’t wait to get home and let you take care of me.”
He laughed at her innuendo.
“Sleep,” Alex said. “Be extra safe. I’ll be home soon.”
He said something but she was pretty sure he was asleep.
“I love you, John,” she said.
“Love you too,” he said.
And the line was dead. She looked at the phone and then got back to work.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…
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