Chapter 30: Powder
Joey didn’t mean to eavesdrop. He just happened to be passing under the kitchen window when the conversation stopped him. He wanted to apologize for being such a jerk. He wanted to make things better between them.
“You can barely take care of yourself,” Mr. Dustin said.
“So, how much trouble can it be?” Amarea asked.
“Dear, be reasonable,” Mrs. Dustin said.
“Reasonable?” Amarea questioned, “I am being reasonable. You guys are the ones being unreasonable.”
“Reasonable or not,” Mr. Dustin said, “The answer is still no.”
“But,” Amarea began.
“No, we’ve got enough on our plate,” Mrs. Dustin said.
“Whatever,” Amarea huffed. “You guys really suck sometimes.”
What’s up? Joey asked.
Joey? Amarea looked around the kitchen.
Who else? Joey replied.
I thought you were sick, Amarea said.
Miraculous recovery, Joey shrugged.
Silly boy, Amarea laughed.
“I’m glad you’re being reasonable, dear,” Mr. Dustin said. He had taken her silence as her agreement.
“Whatever,” Amarea said. She stormed out of the kitchen.
What’s wrong? Joey asked.
I want to get a puppy, Amarea pouted, but my folks shot me down.
Puppies are a lot of work, Mar, Joey said.
Yeah, so I hear, Amarea shot back. That doesn’t stop me from wanting one.
So, you’re going to be mad at your parents for them not wanting something else to care for, Joey said.
So I’m a thing now? Amarea’s face flushed with anger.
You know that is not what I mean, Joey offered.
My poor parents, Amarea began, they have their hands full caring for the cripple.
Stop it, Mar, Joey began, you’re just mad. You don’t mean what you are saying.
Whatever. Amarea rolled her eyes. Why are you here?
There’s a Food Network Marathon on, Joey offered, I thought you’d like some company.
You are such the liar; Amarea spat, you hate that channel and EVERY show on it.
Ok, Joey admitted, so maybe I just wanted to get out of the house. My mom will be back later to pick me up, so what do you say? Can I spend some time with you?
I’m going to watch the marathon, Amarea smiled.
That’s fine, Joey said, maybe they’ll have some weird secret theme foods. Remember the one that had those weird ocean spiky fish?
Yeah, I loved that one, Amarea sighed, I probably wouldn’t eat anything they cooked, but it was fun to watch. Come around to the front door. I’ll let you in.
Already there, Joey smiled. When Amarea opened the door, he smelled cookies baking.
“Smells wonderful,” Joey said to Mrs. Dustin when he passed by the kitchen. Amarea rolled her eyes and elbowed him in the ribs.
“Ouch,” Joey laughed. How many does that make?
512, Amarea sighed.
We didn’t have a party at 500, Joey said. He put his arm around Amarea’s shoulders. She just shrugged. What was the 500th batch?
Pecan sandies, Amarea sighed. My grandmother’s recipe. They were delicious.
Joey sat on the couch and pulled Amarea beside him. She snuggled up into his side.
It was dusk when Mrs. Moore honked the horn in the driveway. Joey was stiff from sitting so long. He stood and stretched. His belly was full of two dozen sugar cookies. He looked at Amarea, who quickly blushed.
“See you tomorrow?” she asked.
“Same bat time, same bat channel,” Joey replied. Joey could feel Amarea watching him walk out the door. He stood a little taller, shoulders back, chest out, just for her.
“Did you have a nice time?” Mrs. Moore asked.
“Yeah,” Joey admitted, “It wasn’t too bad.” Joey stared out the window on the drive home.
“Hey Mom,” he said loudly, “Stop the car.”
Mrs. Moore slammed on the brakes, “What?” she said.
“I think I saw something,” Joey said, getting out of the car. Joey walked to what looked like a crumpled piece of paper. When it moved, he jumped. “It’s alive,” he screeched.
“What’s alive?” his mom asked.
“Look,” Joey said, pointing at the paper-like thing on the ground.
“Oh, my,” his mom said, “it’s a kitten. Poor thing, it can’t be more than 2 weeks old.” She picked up the kitten, it weighed almost nothing. “It’s covered in fleas,” she said examining the kitten. “I think the fleas are eating it alive.”
“What should we do?” Joey asked.
“Well, let’s take it home and give it a flea bath,” she said, “We might just be able to save him. Here, you hold him while I drive.” She handed Joey the kitten.
“Cool,” Joey said, “He has one blue eye and one brown eye.” The kitten settled in his lap and started to purr.
Mrs. Moore bathed the kitten and washed away all the fleas and traces of fleas. The poor thing looked absolutely pitiful. He was a little puff ball after Joey blew him dry.
“I sent your father to the pet store for some supplies,” Mrs. Moore said. “I’m not sure this little guy is going to make it. He’s going to need round the clock feedings for at least the next week. I want you to get the heating pad from the bathroom closet and put it in Sammy’s carrier. Place an old towel around the heating pad. He’s going to need a warm place to sleep.”
Joey did as he was told. Soon the kitten was sleeping soundly on the towel. Sammy would hiss every time she passed the carrier. She wasn’t happy at all to have another cat in the house. Joey spent the next week caring for the kitten. He recovered quickly. He began to eat a mush meal. By the end of the week, he was beginning to play. Joey was somewhat shocked when his mom announced that the kitten “had to go.”
“I’m sorry, hun,” she said, but you just can’t keep him. Sammy has started to pee all over the house. It is her way of rebelling, and I really don’t want to get rid of her.”
“But what are we going to do with him?” Joey asked.
“We can take him to the pound on Monday,” she replied.
“Can I give her to someone?” Joey asked.
“I guess,” she hesitated. “Who do you have in mind?”
“Amarea,” Joey said. “She wanted to get a puppy, but her parents said no.”
“What makes you think they’ll let her have a kitten?” She asked.
“Well, kittens pretty much take care of themselves,” Joey said.
“I don’t know about that,” she said, “this one’s been quite a bit of work!”
“If I call her parents and ask if it is all right,” he said, “Can we then?”
“That would be fine,” she said, “But remember, he needs to be gone by Monday.”
“Deal,” Joey said. The conversation with Amarea’s parents had been short. After a week of dealing with Amarea’s moodiness, they were ready to get her anything she wanted. Mrs. Dustin was more of a “cat person” and liked the idea of a cat more than a dog. They agreed to come and get Joey and the cat on Sunday. Before Joey could reach the front door, Amarea popped into his head.
You missed the marathon, Amarea said. She was waving at him from her window.
Sorry, Joey shrugged, I’ve been busy.
Really, Amarea said blandly, what a surprise.
Actually, Joey said cheerfully, I’ve got a surprise for you. Come to the front door.
Amarea was waiting as Joey climbed the porch steps. Joey smiled as he handed her the slightly larger ball of fluff.
“What?” Amarea asked. Her parents came up behind Joey carrying several bags of cat supplies. “You got me a cat?”
“Actually,” her dad said, “Joey got you a cat.”
Amarea threw her arms around Joey.
“Careful, don’t squish him,” Joey laughed.
“Wow,” Amarea said, “you really are a great friend. What’s her name?”
“It’s a him,” Joey said, “and I haven’t given him a name yet.”
“Well, he looks like a powder puff,” she said, “so I think I’ll call him Powder.”
“Such a masculine name,” Joey laughed again, as Amarea poked him in the ribs.
“There’s a CSI marathon on,” she said, “want to watch it?”
“Yes!” Joey said, “But you hate CSI.”
“Not today,” Amarea replied. She grabbed his arm and pulled him into the living room.
Don’t let them do that to me. Amarea said as she watched the autopsy of a young girl. She was reclining on the chair with Powder asleep on her lap.
Ok, Joey replied.
No, I’m serious, Amarea sat up, Powder almost flew out of her lap, promise me they won’t cut me open like that when I die.
You’re not going to die, Joey said, though he didn’t sound confident.
Yes, I am, she said, tears formed in her eyes. The doctors say I have at most five years. That’s if I’m lucky. I probably won’t even graduate from high school.
Let’s not think about that, Joey said, he reached out his hand and motioned for her to come sit by him. You’re alive today.
Still, she got up and sat beside him, promise me.
Fine, he put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close, I promise.
I’ll haunt you if you break your promise, Amarea said. She poked him in the ribs.
Why are you laughing? Amarea frowned.
You haunt me now! Joey exclaimed.
Amarea elbowed Joey in the ribs again.
“Ouch,” he cried. Powder stirred.
Want to watch something else? Joey asked.
Please? Amarea asked. She snuggled back into his side. Powder snuggled into her stomach.
Joey changed the channel to another marathon, this one on the Food Network.
The following week when Joey met Amarea at her front door, she grabbed his arm and pulled him into the living room.
“You have got to see this,” she said pointing to an old rocking chair.
“I see that chair every time I come over,” Joey said.
“No,” Amarea said, “Watch.” Amarea walked over to the chair. She sat down and moved around, causing the chair to squeak. From out of the kitchen, Powder came running. He had tripled in size from the day Joey had found him. Powder leaped onto Amarea’s lap.
“That’s pretty cool,” Joey said.
Wait, Amarea commanded.
Powder climbed up Amarea’s shoulders to the head rest. He sat down on the head rest and began to lick Amarea’s bald head.
It tickles, Amarea laughed.
Joey laughed, “That’s pretty amazing.”
“If I try to move,” she said, “he will hold my head still with his paw, watch.” Amarea tried to move, and Powder grabbed her head with both paws and held it still. “Isn’t it just the neatest thing?”
“Yes,” Joey said, “I’ve never seen a cat with one brown eye and one blue eye who likes to lick someone’s bald head.”
Thanks Joey, Amarea blushed, thanks for saving him for me.
Anything for my best friend, Joey smiled.