Friday, March 27, 2015

Part 126


A woman ran in and said, "What?  What happened?!"

Moe just kept looking at me and pointing.  My mouth was completely dry.  The woman turned sharply with her hand on the head of a baby to keep from giving it whiplash from where she was carrying in a sling across her front.  She squinted at me evilly for about two seconds and then I saw her knees give as recognition set in.

I don't know, habit or something, made me run forward and catch her and we wound up nose to nose which was strange because I knew for a fact that she was tall and willowy ... or had been.

No one said anything until I squeaked out a very weak, "Oh carp."

That broke the shock.  "Moe" started laughing and then whacked me so hard across the back that I nearly lost my breath.

Josie said, "Hey!"

I turned to look at her and said, "Uh ... that's just kinda Mose ... uh ... Moe's way of saying hi."

Then the woman grabbed me in a strangle hold and both me and the baby squeaked in protest.  "Sherry, ease off ... I can't breathe and I think you're like suffocating your kid or something."

She let go but was having some kind weird reaction and was laughing and hiccuping at the same time and saying, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God."

I looked at Josie who was just standing there assessing.  I said, "Uh ... I guess you can tell I kinda know them."

"Hmm," was all she said.

I looked at Moses and wasn't sure what to say so I said the first thing that came out.  "Where'd you get the eye patch."

"That bastard Jerry."

"Well ... in case you didn't know he got chomped trying to escape from the city.  It was the kind of nibble that gave him the slow infection.  Last I saw of him he was running back into the city looking pretty freaked out."

A sneering smile of satisfaction crossed his face and he said, "Couldn't happen to a better man."

No one was saying much after that and I was getting tired of being stared at so I turned to look at Josie again and said, "Uh ... what do I do with that paper thing.  I don't know how it works."

She looked at Moe and held up a piece of paper.  "Scrip.  The girl needs boots."

Moe snorted and said, "DeeDee doesn't have feet.  She's got toothpicks with toes."

I hunched my shoulders in disgust but didn't say anything.  Moses may have shortened his name but he hadn't shortened his stature in my eyes.  When he said, "That's no good here.  She's our kid.  We'll put boots on her feet."

Josie stiffened and looked at me.  I shook my head and said, "No.  These aren't my parents.  I told you all that I got taken in by a group of people right after Z-Day ... well these two were the leaders of the group."

Sherry shook her head.  "Moe was the leader.  I just got lucky."

When she looked at him with that goofy worshipping face she had always given him I sighed.  But when Moses stared back at her the same way I almost laughed.  Almost.  I looked at both of them and scratched my head confused.  Moses caught me looking and growled, "Watcha looking at?"

I shrugged.  "Dunno.  It's just ... kinda ... well ... ew."

Sherry sighed, "Oh DeeDee."

Moses snorted.  "Brat."

Sherry looked at Josie and said, "We'll take her if she isn't enlisted yet."

"Well I am," I said to everyone.  "OK, maybe not enlisted but I'm a contractor and I'm gonna be a cook ... am a cook.  I've got a job and everything.  I don't need babysitters.  I can take care of myself."

Moses barked, "Hah!  If you can that'll be a change.  Honest to God we thought you were dead or infected that day.  Get over here Brat and tell me what happened and how you got out of the city."

I heard the "right now" in his voice and well ... a year has passed but he's still who he is and I'm still who I am and it is partly due to Moses teaching me how to survive and keeping the perverts off of me so I did as he ordered.  A few sentences in Josie interrupted and said, "This is all real interesting but don't you forget ..."

I nodded.  "I know, I know ... I need to report back or you all will send someone looking to make sure I haven't gotten into trouble."

Josie nodded and added, "And you don't want us having to pound on anyone now do you?"

"I said all right already.  I'll stay out of trouble.  Geez.  Go do your stuff.  I don't need my hand held.  I'm six ..."

"Teen.  You've said that plenty.  Now prove you are and stay out of trouble."

She left but only after she gave Moses and Sherry a good stare down.  I said to them, "Ignore her.  I don't know why but I think the patrol that I'm going to be cooking for has some idea that I'm like their pet or something."

Moses growled, "I know that one and the ones she patrols with.  You ain't going to be slipping their leash to hunt up junk food that's for sure."

"I never did!  Well, just that one ... ok, couple of times.  And it isn't like I didn't tell someone what I was doing."

Moses snorted and said, "You could wind Doc around your little finger.  Fat lot of good he did looking after you."

"He didn't look after me ... not the way I think you're thinking.  I never ... uh ..."

Sherry patted my arm.  "It's all right.  The drunk bastard may have been the best of a bad lot but I'm glad you escaped that life.  Now finish telling your story."

I shrugged.  Doc is a conundrum in my memory.  I liked him and despised him at the same time.  It's just now that he is dead I'm trying to dump the garbage and keep the good.  I told them what had happened, how I had put Doc out of his misery - that drew an approving rumble from Moses - how I had crossed the bridge and seen Jerry and the others but was only for sure what had happened to Jerry and then all that I have done since that day. "I always wondered what had happened.  I kinda figured you got knocked up Sherry because of the puking and that you and Moses were thinking about leaving but ... I ... uh ..."

Sherry sat nursing the baby - it sounded like a pig the way it was grunting - while Moses set up their tent.  She looked at me sadly.  "We did try to look for you DeeDee but things were really bad.  I don't think you saw everything.  Jerry tried to use the puss brains to get rid of Moses and when that didn't work he stabbed him a couple of times.  All I could do was drag him into a stairwell and down a couple of flights of stairs to find someplace to hole up.  He was bleeding so bad I couldn't leave him.  Things were crazy.  I went out and looked in the building a couple of times - found what was left of a couple of the group but there wasn't enough to identify.  I ... I ..."

"Don't cry Sherry.  I lived.  You lived.  It's all good.  I'm sorry Moses lost his eye though."  I looked at him and asked, "Does it hurt?"

"Naw.  Ruined my aim though so my idea of being a hired gun had to get changed.  It was a ***** to get out of the city but we finally did and we headed to my brother's place in Florida hoping to hole up there over the winter.  Change of plans.  Met up with him just in time to follow him and what was left of his gang out here but Sherry was having the baby and they moved on so I hired on as security for this place.  The guy was an idiot and picked a fight with a knife artist when I wasn't around.  It would have been stupid to just walk away from this when I got a wife and kid so now I'm Moe the shoe salesman."

I laughed.  "Moe?  Still not getting that one."

Sherry burped the kid only the noise came out of its other end.  Moses barked a laugh and said, "That's my Dawnie.  You tell her."

I was confused until I saw the look on Sherry's face and then I just about keeled over even though I was already sitting on the ground.  "You ... you named it ... uh ..."

"She's a baby, not an it Silly."  Sherry told me.  "And yes, we named her Dawn."

"Please say you don't plan on giving her some awful nickname like I'm stuck with."

She chuckled.  "No.  Just Dawn."

Moses said proudly, "She was nice and big from the get go, like her ol' man.  No puny kids for us."

Sherry didn't look as enthusiastic about it as Moses but she still smiled.  Then she turned to me and said, "Now I want to know the truth, did you sign up because you wanted to or did you get forced into it."

I shrugged.  "I had options but signing up seemed like the best of them."  Carefully I added, "Still does."

She looked sad for a moment but then smiled.  "Sure.  I can see that.  But you have to promise that when we wind up in the same place you have to stop by."

Moses growled, "She better."

I gave them both everything I had and asked, "Think you could stop me from it?"  Moses laughed his big booming laugh and laughed even louder when he saw how pleased that Sherry was.

I did eventually get some boots.  I never knew it but Moses' father actually was a shoe salesman and his grandfather worked in a shoe repair shop that he'd inherited from his grandfather.  "Damned if I haven't wound up doing exactly what I tried to escape from as a kid.  I hated shining shoes for all those rich dudes downtown."

"But here you are getting rich off of shoes," I answered back after watching him do a brisk trade in everything foot related including socks and heel repairs and laces.

"Yeah.  Guess that's what you call irony.  Though we ain't getting rich, we do make a decent living," he said proudly.  Then he shook his head and added, "But I could make more money as a merc."

Sherry warned, "And you could also get deader faster."

"Shut up woman.  Think I'm gonna take a chance and leave you and Dawnie with no security?"

She said, "I'm not worried about security.  I just don't want to lose you."

Oh gag.  Sorry but it is a bit too much for me to watch high romance between a felon and an ex-call girl.  Too much like one of those bodice ripper books that have all sorts of stuff in there I didn't need or want to know about but was too bored over the winter to put down.

Moses fit me with a real nice pair of moccasins that had tire treads for soles.  They laced up over my calf and when he was through making adjustments they fit better than almost any pair of shoes I've ever had.  I was bent over admiring them when Moses said, "Leave your other ones here.  I'll do what I can to fix 'em and then you'll have a second pair in case these get wet."

"Uh ... you know you don't have to do ..."

Moses looked at me and gave me a growled warning so I shut up fast.  I'd forgotten just how fast Moses could lay into you if you didn't do what he said.  Sherry smiled like she approved and then Moses went off to dicker with the next customer.

"Sherry really ... I mean I don't know exactly what scrip is but don't you think you should take it?"

"No.  Moe said no and that's all there is to it and I don't want to hear another word about it."  Sherry could be as bad as Moses so I shut up.

"Hey, what is with Moses changing his name to Moe and I hear everyone calling you Sher instead of Sherry."

She shrugged and rocked Dawnie's cradle with her foot while she cut boot laces from leather circles.  "We decided we were dropping our old lives and starting new ones so we dropped some of our name.  Symbolic you know?  His grandfather was called Moe so for him it just fit.  He got a bad fever after that bastard Jerry stabbed him and half the time only had the energy to say half my name so I just went with it.  You'll run into a lot of people out here who have changed their names to start over.  You could too if you really want to dump that name you have."

I gave it two seconds of thought and said, "I suppose but ... it kinda connects me back to my parents.  If I change my name to change who I am ... I don't know ... it ... it just doesn't seem respectful to my parents."

She nodded.  "I figured you say something like that."  She looked at me and was about to say something when there was a commotion at the tent flap and my whole flaming patrol walks in.

I stood up and put my hands on my hips and said, "Aw c'mon.  What's the big deal?  It's not curfew yet."

Sgt. Shelly laughed and said, "God, now I know why my father was always complaining about my attitude when I was your age.  I'm not here for you Pip ... I'm here to trade with Moe.  Go back to jabbering."

I muttered, "I don't jabber."

Sherry smiled and stood up.  She told me, "Watch the baby."

As soon as she stopped rocking the baby started making this awful noise and Sherry - gotta remember to start calling her Sher - ordered me to "just pick her up before she brings the tent down."

Now I've babysat my fair share of kids but it had been a long time but I suppose holding a baby is like riding a bicycle.  You remember after you give it another try, all you just need to do is try not to fall off ... or in this case drop the baby on its head.

Dawnie decided I made a good chew toy and slobbered all over me much to my disgust and Sher's amusement when she came back and found me wiping baby spit off of all of my exposed surfaces.  "She's teething."

I answered, "I never would have guessed."  I had little indents to go with the baby spit.

Moe and Sher and my patrol were all talking and getting along fine when this really nasty looking bunch walked in.  I could tell there was an immediate change in everyone's stance and it hacked me off to be the only one to not know what was about to happen yet again.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Kathy great story.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Kathy great story.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love every word of every story but it sure is hard on my finger tips janging on all these cliffs. :)

    Thank you sincerely,
    Charles

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  4. Need to preview comments so I could be hanging rather than janging....

    ReplyDelete