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Then There Were Three (part 23)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Just who was happiest as the car doors flew open and everyone disembarked was difficult to say. It could have been Casper, blooded up from neck to knees and sporting a sore and strangely itchy nose. Or it could just have easily been Kru, relieved to get these devil children out of her car and hand them over to whichever unfortunate adult she clapped eyes on first. Finny was an obvious choice, too. Her own guilty conscience and the awful silence from both Kru, whom she liked and Casper, whom she… also liked, made the few miles from the gas station to Hope an absolute ordeal for her. However, from the way he bounced out of the car and ran gleefully into the dilapidated quarantine house to tell his best friend Worms all about it, it was short odds on that Onetooth took the prize for overall schadenfreude.

Kru, children delivered, exited the scene in a spray of gravel. The bemused constable at the front door watched with folded arms and fatherly shake of the head as the two nine-year-olds edged around him, side by side with heads bowed, and into the house.

Inside, they stood not looking at each other and waited to be noticed. Nurse Maisie, meanwhile, was trying to catch Onetooth, who had leaped up onto Worm’s bed.

Dodging and even ducking out from between Maisie’s outstretched arms, Onetooth was excitedly telling his friend all about the punch and what had led up to it. Just as the nurse’s powerful arms wrapped around his waist like twin anacondas and lifted him from the bed, Onetooth chanted the fateful final words down to the weakly grinning Worms.

“...because she lurrrves him.” So sealing Finny in hot cheeked embarrassment for all to see.

The formidable mass of Nurse Maisie Hawkes, however, wasn’t one who paid much attention to the puerile prattle of children. She was much more interested in the still damp stains that spotted Onetooth’s threadbare t-shirt and ragged trousers.

As if he were no more than some animated stuffed toy, Maisie held Onetooth up at arm’s reach to get a better look.

Meanwhile, Finny’s rapidly tilting little world was miraculously stopped and just as unlikely bolstered when she felt Casper’s hand slip into her own and give it a gentle squeeze. This left only her other hand free to wipe away the moisture from her eyes that threatened to be mistaken for tears. As if! She squeezed back, and then gave an almighty sniff and Finny’s world righted itself again.

Oblivious to the hearts and roses blooming behind her, Nurse Maisie was in full nursie mode.

“Is this blood?” She began twisting and turning Onetooth, looking for signs of injury. “Are you cut? Where does it hurt?”

Worms. Despite his weakened state, laughed hoarsely while his friend was effortlessly twirled in the air as Maisie inspected him with a growing mixture of concern and annoyance. It was only Worms’ sudden bout of phlegm-flecked coughing that distracted her enough to look down at him. Then Maisie followed her patient’s pointing finger to where Casper and Finny were standing and suddenly no longer holding hands.

Maisie’s eyes bulged at the sight of Casper.

“He gorra nosebleed.” Onetooth supplied, as he was lowered to the ground. “Finny…” But the glare coming from Finny and aimed directly into his soul choked off Onetooth’s words. “… was, er, there.” He finished lamely.

Behind him, Onetooth caught sight of Worms reaching for the oxygen mask and wisely decided that he should go and help him.

Maisie bent down in front of Casper, hands on hips and nose wrinkling at the smell of stale blood.

“That was one hell of a nosebleed sunshine. How did…”

“He got blood all over Kru’s car. She’s the lady that brought us from Flagg. She was really annoyed so she didn’t come in. Oh an’ Worms got the typhoid from a dead baby that was buried by some fugees. But then it got dug up by some dogs.”

Maisie’s head turned slowly from Casper to stare at the gabbling little girl who’s mouth was going ten to the dozen, the words reinforced by an anxiously nodding head. Something wasn’t right here, she thought. Her eyes narrowed.

“Please miss?”

Maisie swung her head back towards the boy.

Casper swallowed.

“Please miss,” he repeated. “I fell over.”

The head nurse’s eyes narrowed some more.

“Did you now?”

Like a pair of nodding dogs, two anxious little faces bobbed in unison.

“Uhuh.” “Yes Miss.”

Maisie stood up straight again. Whatever it was that had happened, it was only a nosebleed after all. No need for her to get all Miss Marple over it.

“Okay, fine. Whatever.” She prodded a finger towards Casper. “But you need a bath and clean clothes.”

Which was when Doctor Troy walked out of the bright sunshine into the gloom of the temporary quarantine house.

“This place has a bath?” She asked, plonking her double armful of medical supplies and food onto the big table.

“Nope, but there’s a hose in the back yard.” She used fingertips to direct Casper towards the back door. “Come on you.”

Casper threw Finny a ‘save me’ look as Maisie’s finger prodded him through the kitchen area. All Finny could do was offer him an apologetic shrug. He did smell quite a lot.

Doctor Troy set about putting the things she had brought away in their respective cupboards. Finny went over to join Onetooth and Worms. She gave Onetooth another hard stare as she climbed onto the bed. Then her face softened.

“Hey Wormsy. Howya feelin’?”

Between them, Finny and Onetooth brought Worms up to date with all that had happened. Worms had become upset about the whole dead baby thing and was scared that he was going to get taken away and put in jail. His two friends, especially Finny, were able to reassure him that that wasn’t going to happen. To herself, Finny was pretty sure that Joe wouldn’t let it. For the first time, Finny really understood what the whole ‘having contacts’ thing was all about.

Worms was, in fact not only feeling a lot better, but looking it, too. He was no longer sweating and the brightness has returned to his eyes. His skin, though, still held that ghastly pallor that had first made Finny fear for his life. It was only two days ago, but ever since the moment she had almost cried with relief when the nurse had stopped next to them on the road, things had just seemed to have gotten worse and worse. Seeing Worms now was the first good thing that had happened in that time.

Well, maybe the second, she thought with a smile, and just the faintest of blushes.

Just then, the object of her thoughts re-entered the building through the back door. Pink and wet and in a panic, The naked Casper dove for his bed where he prayed to whatever gods might just exist that his pyjamas would be where he had left them that morning.

Nurse Maisie ambled in behind him, dry as a bone and carrying Casper’s bloody clothes draped over an arm.

While the children on the bed rolled about laughing… well, ‘swayed’ in Worms’ case, Tuki shot a raised eyebrows look at her head nurse.

Maisie looked nonplussed and stopped dead on her way to the laundry basket. She stared innocently at her boss.

“What?”

Tuki shook her head slowly and went back to stacking cans in a cupboard.

Comments

Canni Belle's picture

((*Note to self .. stay clear of nurse Maisie and the water hose*))

One minute your calm, the next your shooting someone in the face, then your doing your chickendance. If that is not chaos I dont know what is - Aiid



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