“That little doggie isn’t even big enough to eat solid food yet,” I said. “By the time he is, he’ll love the cats and not want to hurt them, let alone eat them.”
“That’s right,” the woman behind the counter said. “So if you’re sure, then you can take them all home now.”
“We are, but since the kittens have their mom, I was wondering, should we also get a grown female dog? I guess she wouldn’t feed him, but maybe she could sort of help look after him.”
“That’s a great idea. I’ll give you a list of things you should buy first, and then you can come back and find a second dog.” She clicked some keys and a printer started humming. She pulled out the sheets and handed them to me.
“Thanks. We’ll go and buy these things and then come back.”
There was a store selling pet supplies right across the street, so we walked.
Lydia picked out a pink carrier for the kitties, and Curly spotted a blue one for the puppy.
Freckles found leashes, and I found food and formula.
When I asked Sammy to help pick out a dog bed, he didn’t respond, so Freckles and Curly went and looked at them, while Lydia and I chose cat beds.
As we walked back, Sammy dragged his feet. He did look tired and still a little pale.
Freckles was the one to find a friend for the puppy.
She was also a Labrador Retriever, but very large.
“Her name’s Tilly,” a young woman told us. “She’s three. She was brought here a month ago with a litter of puppies. All of them have been adopted.”
“Does she like cats?” I asked.
“We honestly don’t know. She loves humans and other dogs, but if you’ve got cats, I’d watch them carefully at first.”
“We don’t have cats,” Sammy said.
“Not yet, but we will in a few minutes,” I said.
“Tilly and TJ,” Curly said.
“What does TJ stand for?” I asked.
We loaded Tilly, TJ, and the cats into the van, and then we loaded ourselves.
I pulled out of the parking lot and hoped the pets weren’t scared of us, the van, or each other.
Traffic was bad, and it felt like a very long drive, but finally, we pulled into our camp site.
“Grandma, our tent looks weird,” Freckles said.
“Maybe the wind blew it over a little bit.”
But even as I said this, I knew the wind hadn’t been strong enough that day.
I walked over and almost screamed.
Somebody had slashed the boys’ tent to ruin.
The tent I shared with Lydia had also been ravaged.
“I think we’re going to need to go to your house tonight.”
“All my clothes are ripped,” Freckles said.
“Yeah, mine too,” Sammy said. “And Curly’s.”
Lydia looked terrified as she followed me into what had once been our tent. Sure enough, our possessions had been slashed, and I was glad nothing more than clothes had been left in the tents.
Once we’d collected anything undamaged or that I could fix, we packed up the van again and drove back into the city.
When we arrived, I brought all our food into the house, while Curly helped bring in the pets and their supplies. Sammy disappeared up to his room, and I didn’t go after him. I wasn’t planning to ask for help doing dishes or cooking the meal that night.
“Who would like to help me feed TJ?” I said.
“Can I?” Freckles asked.
“Yes, of course. It’s sort of like feedin a baby, so when you have kids some day, you’ll be a big help to your wife.”
Sammy came down for dinner, but didn’t say anything.
I waited until the kids were in bed before I called the police and reported what had happened to our tents. I explained that we would not be going back to stay at our camp site.
The officer was nice, but seemed to think it was just some kids fooling around.
I wasn’t so sure, but I don’t argue with the police.
I was tired, so I checked on the pets, and then went upstairs to check on the children.
Sammy’s light was on.
“It’s time to go to bed.”
“I can’t sleep.”
He sounded like he might have been crying.
He must be frightened about what happened to our tents.
“Would you like to come into the kitchen and tell me what’s bothering you?”
In the kitchen, I made us each a mug of hot chocolate, and we sat at the kitchen table.
He took a sip and said, “It’s Kristin.”
“Oh, is she sick?”
He shook his head.
“Did you have a fight?”
He shook his head and sipped his drink.
I sipped mine and waited.
After all of it was gone, he looked at me.
“I can’t even say it.”
“Okay. Can you write it?”
I handed him a pen and piece of paper.
He wrote quickly and handed it to me.
The note contained one word: pregnant.
Unexpected, to say the least.
“Has she told her parents?”
“How do you feel about it?”
“Did she tell you how she feels about it?”
“Sort of, but I didn’t understand.”
“What did she say?”
“She loves it.”
“When I was expecting your mom, I loved her. Your grandpa also wasn’t sure exactly how he felt. Back in those days, men weren’t allowed anywhere near women having babies, so he paced up and down in a waiting room until a doctor found him and told him he had a beautiful girl — your mom. Even then, he didn’t know how he felt. Somebody took him upstairs and he saw her. That was when he realized that he loved her. Do you understand?”
“If you have any questions, or if anything else is bothering you, please come talk to me. Okay?”
“Would you like me to make you more hot chocolate?”
“No. I’m going to bed.”
When I checked on him half an hour later, we was fast asleep, but I lay awake deep into the night, wondering who had slashed up our tents, and how we were all going to cope with Kristin being pregnant.
Part 18 will be posted on Friday, November 27.