Natty reached into the cooler for one of the Popsicles. Her little arm was just a bit too short. Leaning over the edge of the cooler she tumbled in. Now this was better. She could have all the Popsicles she wanted.
“Well there's our little thief," the clerk said smiling and bent down to pick up Natty. She smacked the clerk in the face with the banana and retreated just out of reach. The clerk lunged and caught her by the legs. Natty screamed and socked him in the right eye. The clerk let her go temporarily to rub his eye. Again Natty retreated on all fours. The clerk followed likewise
She screamed so loud that loose articles jiggled in their containers. "It's OK,” Ray said to Clare. “All I need to do is follow the trail of screaming voices."
“She has learned well,” Ray thought. “Never let a stranger pick you up.” They had taught her that If someone tries to, scream scratch and punch like there was no tomorrow, use anything at hand to beat or throw at them.
"How much did that set us back?" Ray asked Clare
"What if Natty would have been really in the mood?", Sandy asked grinning. Clare looked at her to see if she was serious.
"Loosen up, everybody, you all look like you just got back from a funeral!" Ray had taped and glued the radio back together as well as he could and now it was time to try it out. He turned it on and rock music blared out of one of the speakers. Natty jumped around in a circle singing, “Ya, ya, ya!” Sandy danced half halfheartedly when Clare began to dance wildly at the center of the kitchen. Ray watched, keeping time to the music, tapping a ruler on the instrument panel. Sandy puled back and let Clare have the floor as she clapped her hands in encouragement.
"I didn't know that a person your age could dance to rock music, uh, oh. I didn't mean that the way it sounded," he immediately added realizing he had made the age old mistake of mentioning age to a woman.
"Wow, that must have been interesting!" Ray said in wonderment.
"How did you come to be a social worker?" Sandy asked.
"No! If we even show our selves near a court house they'll take us away," Ray said pulling away from Clare. Clare thought about it and had to agree. One week later this far up river without a report, It would be her that they would most likely judge as incompetent, if not throw the book at her for attempted kidnapping.
"You're right, we're all in the same boat together.”, Clare concurred. Both Sandy and Ray laughed.
"What's so funny?" Clare asked.
"Voi-la," Ray said pirouetting with his arms outstretched, indicating the river boat cabin around them that served as the kitchen.
"Ain’t it the truth," Clare said joining in the laughter.
"Tomorrow we'll be in Helena Mississippi. They're having a
carnival there," Ray announced.
"Let's not stop there," Clare said. An uneasiness tugged at her.
"Why not, Clare?" Sandy asked.
"I'm not sure, I guess It's just that there will be a lot of people there and you never know who we could run into." Clare said, not knowing how else to explain the gut feeling she had go through her.
"Do you really think they could be looking for us this far north?" Ray asked.
Just then a police cruiser approached. It slowed its speed and flashed its spot light at them, then continued on without a second look. Ray pointed starboard at the receding cruiser. “They can't be looking for us too hard," he remarked. Clare still felt uneasy about anyone leaving the security of the riverboat. She just wished they could just keep going non-stop until they had reached their destination.
"You and Ray can go, I'll stay her with the baby, That way you can have fun without worrying about the boat and your little sister." She didn't know why exactly why she felt uneasy about this stop over. Maybe she was just jumping at shadows.
"Come on Natty let's go fix us up some supper." On hearing her name Natty got up and toddled her way to Clare.