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Chapter Thirty Six

Ralph and Elise knew a problem when they saw it. Ted and his merry band were exhausted. Elise could see it in dragging steps, sagging shoulders, and heavy yawns. She caught Tim and Ron leaning against a wall, both with such tired eyes and listless conversation. She motioned to Ralph. “Look what we have here. Six exhausted patriots and you know, we have an empty house. What do you think?”

Ralph took note of her serious tone and took matters into his own hands. “You still planning to take those crocks of stew over to the shelters?” Ralph marched over to where Ted and Rita sat in weary silence. “Hey, you two. How ’bout we get the six of you over to our place for some shut eye?”

Ted and Rita looked at each other in surprise through bleary eyes. “How ’bout you Rita? I’m ’bout done for sure…, but there’s still so much to do.”

Rita glanced up from Ted and over to Ralph, sensing the need in Ted and feeling the drag in her own body. “I think that’s the best idea I’ve heard today. Where ya parked in this mess? Will we be able to get out and back in?”

Ted perked up on her note of question. “That’ll be my job. I’ll clear it with Andy. He’ll understand. If the others look as rough as we do, he’ll probably recommend it. What ‘bout the other service and getting’ people ready and all?”

Ralph shook his head at Ted. “Hold on now. I think the other members can share that burden. You’ve done ’nough. You look as if you could sleep through a week of services right now.”

Rita looked at the stubborn expression on Ted’ face. “Come on Ted, let it go. He’s right you know. We need…, I need to get some sleep. Last night was rough on all of us, and now, well, it’s time to pull back and rest. Here comes Tim and Ron. They look just as dragged out as you do.”

Ted looked up as Tim and Ron joined the group. “All right. I guess I’m beat too, but I don’t want to miss anything.”

Elise found a surge of energy as she chased the six into the van. This is a part I can play well enough. I bet they haven’t had more than a snack since yesterday. That stew will take care of that, maybe some cornbread too. I’ll dig out some of our son’ clothes from those storage bins in the garage. These guys are ’bout the same size, ’cept Ted, he might be too stocky.

Once at their home, Elise wasted no time. Showers and clean clothes, with hot bowls of hot stew were provided. Elise smiled at the host of yawns around her table. Her combination did the job. Soon both sofas and the bedrooms were full of content and tired travelers. They stayed that way until late the next morning, blissfully unaware of new events heading their way.

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