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It was around 6:30 am and Ariel had dragged Kris over to Old Man Abe’s Hardware store. It was time; Kris was now on a strict schedule. Ariel had to keep a sharp eye on this little hell raiser, ever since Kris got her little paws on those fire alarms. By having Old Man Abe walk her to school everyday and Aunt Sally to pick her up after school, this would certainly instill some sort of sanity in Ariel’s hectic schedule.
But what would happen during school? Oh Ariel took care of that too; during recess, Kris would have to help Ms. Gen, the 1st grade teacher round up her class for music and art, while during lunch, she had the pure privilege of prying all the fire alarms out of their glass case. On top of that, she would also be following the janitor and maintenance men around to clean and fix the entire school, until all the damages have been paid for.
“But mommy,” whined Kris, as Ariel dragged her arm. “I don’t wanna have Old Man Abe take me to school. Why can’t I just walk like I did before? I haven’t had anybody take me to school since kindergarten. I don’t need someone to hold my hand when I walk the street. AND HE SMELLS LIKE MINTY OLD PEOPLE!!”
“Kris!” Ariel stopped at her tracks and yelled. She took a deep breath and stooped down at her daughter. “Listen to me. If you do this for me, I’ll be happy. You want mommy to be happy right? You don’t want mommy to have to miss work just so she can bail you out of detention right? Then please. PLEASE! Just do this…”
“BLAH!” she responded by making a frustrated face.
As they reached the hardware store, they could already see Abe rocking back and forth in this wooden seat and chewing on some old tobacco. Ariel made eye contact with him and gave him a big wave.
“Why…isn’t that little Kris?” he said, walking towards the mother and daughter.
“HI, Old Man Abe,” Kris responded robotically.
“Kris!” Ariel scolded, but quickly smiled at Abe with an apologetic look.
“How many times do I have to tell you; you can’t call him that.”
“Oh it’s OK, Ariel,” laughed Abe. “She can call me anything she likes. We’re gonna be spendin’ lots of time together aren’t we, youngin?”
“I wanna go home,” Kris said deadpanned.
“Kris,” Ariel harshly whispered at her daughter. “Be polite.”
“Say Kris,” Abe said, as he knelt down to her level. “I hear you’re going to be in the school talent show this year; the first second grader ever to make it into the Grand Fall Theater, am I right?”
“YEAH!” Kris enthusiastically answered. “But I can’t tell you my talent yet, Abe. You have to show up to see me perform.”
“You’re not going to be super gluing thangs together, right little missy?” he winked at her.
“You heard about that??” Kris winced. “My reputation precedes me. But it wasn’t my fault!”
“Uh-huh and these bullet wounds in my butt weren’t from NAM!” he sarcastically commented.
“We weren’t involved in that war, Abe,” Ariel cringed.
“We weren’t!? Then how on earth, did I get these wounds??”
“Duck hunting trip, remember?” Kris answered. “You told me that a couple weeks ago.”
“OH…right, then these bullet wounds weren’t from Nam. And it wasn’t really your fault!” Abe deduced from his clearly fabricated logic.
“I told you!” Kris nodded. “See mommy, Abe believes me!”
Ariel gave a deep and exhausted sigh.
“Fine, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Look, I am going to leave Abe in charge until after school when Aunt Sally picks you up.”
“Not Aunt Sally!” Kris winced as she heard those horrible words uttered by her mother.
“I thought you loved her,” Ariel said, twisting Kris’ body back and forth.
“She always talks to people and leaves me in the middle of the park to play with caterpillars,” Kris explained. “I am afraid of caterpillars!”
“If I tell her to play with you, will you be a good girl and listen to her?” Ariel asked.
“…do I have to?” Kris pouted hard.
“PLEASE!!” Ariel whined as she dug her face into the little girl’s belly.
“OK OK!” Kris laughed as she felt her mother’s words tickle her stomach.
“I’ll go, but you have to promise me that you’ll play with me when you come back from work.”
Right after school Aunt Sally picked her up and they went straight to the park. It was a quaint park, where animals and kids roamed free while their parents and guardians talked over to the side. But just as Kris suspected, Aunt Sally did not play with her and instead went straight to talk to the other mothers and fathers. Swinging back and forth on the short swings, Kris gently kicked the sand beneath her feet and moped.
“Stupid Aunt Sally,” she would say. “Never wants to play with me!”
Suddenly, as she continued to stare at the new hole she dug through the sand, two feet appear in front of her.
“Hi, Kris,” the person above the feet said.
Scanning the specimen upward, Kris gave a small smile as she sees the new kid, Robbie smiling back at her.
“Do you want to swing with me?” he asked kindly.
“Free country,” Kris nonchalantly answered as she continued to dig her small hole.
Taking the small swing next to her, Robbie looks at Kris mashing her foot away into the hole and frowns. What exactly was she doing? Amusing herself?
“What are you doing?” Robbie asked.
“Digging,” she responded quickly, still very much focused.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because,” she replied.
Like any children’s conversations, everything they spoke about was easily answered with “because” or some ambiguous one word phrase that really answered nothing. As they continue to chat, Kris noticed that Robbie was looking at her way too much.
“What are you staring at, bub?” she frankly asked.
“Nothing,” he said, returning his gaze onto the floor. “I was just wondering. Why do you always get in trouble?”
“Because,” she replied. “I think people are finally after me and my secrets.”
“Yeah. I have many of them. You seem like a decent guy. You want to hear one?” she sneakily asked. He gave a very encouraging nod. “My daddy is superman. Did you know that?”
“SUPERMAN!?!?” he reiterated.
“SHHH!! keep it down will ya?” she yelped. “Of course he’s my dad! How else am I so smart and so strong? But, don’t tell nobody. My daddy wants to keep it as a secret. I’m not supposed to say anything, because I’m not supposed to know.”
“Oooh,” Robbie nodded. “Can you tell him to come to my birthday party next month?”
“Nope, sorry,” she shook her head. “I don’t talk to him much. I see him a lot of TV but he never comes and visits. I think it’s because he is so busy saving people and flying around. But someday he’ll come back and rescue me and mommy. Someday he’ll make her happy again.”
“My daddy flies too,” Robbie quipped. He’s a pilot and so are my uncles.
“See, the man next to my mommy is Joe. He’s one of my dad’s friends but I call him Uncle Joe.”
As Kris peers into the tree infested park, she sees the gorgeous dame that is Robbie’s mother, with long brown locks that were highlighted by the sun’s golden rays, hips swaying her dress around as if the wind carried her and a face that can brighten even the depths of hell. She was indeed very pretty. And right next to her was…well a very familiar face.
“Hey it’s Pilot Joe!” Kris screamed. “HEY!! Oops, I’m not supposed to talk to strangers…”
“He’s not a stranger,” Robbie interrupted. “He’s my uncle. C’mon, I’ll introduce you to him.”
Robbie excitedly grabbed Kris’ hand and ran towards Rainie and Joe as they talked to Aunt Sally about the new improvements on the PTA.
“Mommy, mommy!” Robbie called out. “I want you to meet my friend Kris.”
Rainie sighed and apologized to Aunt Sally for her son’s rudeness. She then knelt down towards Robbie and Kris.
“Robbie, don’t be rude. Can’t you see I’m talking to someone? Oh…hello? Why aren’t you just the cutest little thing?” she said as she took Kris’ hand and shook it.
“Wow, you even look beautiful up close!” Kris bluntly replied. “And I’m staring right at ya!”
“Well, thank you, dear,” she gratefully said, brushing a stray hair off her face.
“I think she’s farsighted,” Joe snickered to himself.
“Joe, no one asked for your opinion, “Rainie scolded. “Besides, what do you know about feminine beauty anyways?”
“I know it doesn’t always look like that in the morning,” he smirked sheepishly.
“Don’t listen to him kids, he’s not well after he takes his meds,” Rainie whispered to Robbie and Kris.
Rolling his eyes, Joe made his way in front of Kris and knelt down to talk to her.
“Well if it isn’t the old bandit,” he slyly remarked. “What are you up today? Taping the restroom doors? Putting knots on all the fire hoses?”
“Nothing much, pilot Joe,” she shrugged. “I’m off that whole ‘wannabe rescuer’ phase right now. Mommy was very disappointed in me.”
“Pilot Joe?” he frowned. “I thought I was Mr. Joe.”
“I got tired of it, I wanted to change your name,” she said making a face. “You said I can call you anything I wanted. So be aware that you might have 3-4 names.”
“I see,” he laughed. “So where is your mom?”
“She’s working,” she calmly said. “Say…why aren’t you at work, slacker? Don’t you have a flight to catch today?”
“Well, I’m not on call today,” he shrugged as he got up from his knees. “I have to stay here and save Robbie from being bogarted by his overly protective mother.”
“I heard that Joe!” Shouted Rainie into his left ear, almost enough to cause some damage. “It’s not my fault Mike isn’t here for this. Jiro is off with his new girlfriend and for heaven sakes you are the kid’s 2nd godfather. It’s your duty to protect him too!”
“I do! I protect him from anything and everything…except for his overly protective mother,” he continued to joke.
“That’s his problem that he has to deal with till the day–
Rainie glared down at him and pointed a stiff finger in front of his face.
“You better not finish that sentence if you wish to live to see my grandchildren,” she bluntly said. “It was nice meeting you Kris, but I have to go shopping with Robbie. If Joe doesn’t want to tag along, I want you to take care of him for me. But if you don’t, I won’t be too mad,” she whispered as she winked at the seven year old.
Kris laughed as Robbie and his mother left Joe and her standing alone at the empty park.
“Wow, she’s pretty and she’s funny,” Kris said to no one in particular.
“Yes, but most of the crazy ones are,” Joe quipped.
“You said, ‘save’,” Kris suddenly changed the subject. “You said you save Robbie from his mother.”
“Uh-huh,” he nodded. “I’ll save anybody from the wrath of Rainie Yang He,” he laughed. “I’ll even save you. Just give me the sign and I’ll come rushing in. Don’t tell anyone this but I have superhero powers.”
“Superhero powers?” Kris reiterated.
“Yep, and I can fly too,” he snickered. “Didn’t you know superman can fly?”
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