mothers and children together, not to separate them. If you would just tell me where your mother is, maybe I can help you."
months ago, we haven't seen her since. I guess she doesn't care about us either!" Ray said vehemently.
"Look, lady, maybe you mean what you say but we have no
guarantee that the system will go along with you and we'll do anything to stay together. I'm sorry lady but you are taking a trip to Canada with us."
social workers or worse, cops, come to pay us a visit. We're going to find Uncle Sal in Ontario."
center of the kitchen floor. Ray lifted the trap door and
disappeared below deck.
who was slapping her hands in here plate and letting out little yelps of excitement.
the top of the engine hoping that it would lubricate it enough it up a bit. He replaced the cover and poured a liberal amount of gas in the carburettor as well. Then he pushed the starter button. The motor turned-over once, then flames shot out of the carburettor three feet long. This was followed by such a roar that the concussion knocked him backwards into the bilge water at the bottom of the hull.
would be enough fuel to get to Canada, or as close as the river boat would allow them to get to this lake called Georgian Bay.
it full throttle. There was a loud snap and the lights went out. This was followed by a whining, then there was the sound of smashing glass and the whole cabin shuddered. The river boat lurched forward knocking Ray off his feet. Sandy had managed to stay on her feet and reached over and pulled the throttle down, stopping within a few feet of the opposite shore. Ray was red faced, he now knew what the problem had been.
The power line had snapped off at the utility pole and had
whiplashed back through a side window leaving a deep gouge in the wall just above Clare's head.
Ray informed Sandy.
all the way to Canada," Sandy indicated to the slumped form of Clare.
where some one will find her after we are long gone." Ray
be cops looking for us everywhere then. We'll keep her with us for the time being until we think of some thing," Ray decided.
they'll probably just dismiss it as her staying home because she isn't feeling well or some thing," Ray speculated.
I think were going to have to make a stop. Ms. Social worker has to make a phone call," Ray announced.
"My name is Clare and you can forget the social worker part,
I've just resigned. What would you say if I told you I'm going to go along with your little scheme and I'll help you find your uncle," Clare offered.
My offer still holds, I will do every thing to keep you under my roof if we can't find your uncle."
children from one another and I have no desire for being beat up by drunken husbands any more. I've been offered a position with an adoption agency with far better pay and this organization works at keeping children together."
will forward every thing as you requested to your home address." (click.) Clare stared at the phone thinking, “Just like that.”
informed Ray, then said, “You can put the stick away. You won't need it any more.” She turned to look at Ray's surprised face.
flies out here. If you were wondering how I knew, I saw the reflection of the stick in the glass sides of the phone booth. If you are ready, I believe we have one hell of an adventure ahead of us. Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of going on an adventure. I guess you are providing me with that opportunity, maybe the last one in my lifetime. You're going to need an adult to pose as a custodian or you'll draw attention at the ports if they see three children traveling alone. I just hope you don't blow up the boat before we get there." Clare concluded.
"Sandy meet our new crew member," Ray pointed to Clare
with his right hand.
backs turned, I don't trust her. A social worker is always a
social worker" Sandy asserted.
You're both right, for the last ten years I have seen children separated from each other, which is some thing I've always been at odds about with the system. I have also seen children repeatedly beaten to within an inch of their lives by drunken parents. Even though I don't agree with separation, in those cases I thought it was better than for these children to suffer or die at the hands of irres-ponsible and brutal parents. See this scar just under the hair line above my right ear? That was from a Coke bottle- wielding drunken father of two abused children. The mother had been beaten so severely that it was doubtful she would pull through the night. What would you do in a case like that? Leave the children in his charge? Suppose you three would have stayed where you were and your father would have come back in a raging drunken condition. What would you do? Ray and Sandy remained silent. As of now, to any one that comes snooping, you are in my custody and I am bringing you to your uncle in Alton, Illinois. Don't even mention Canada to any one. That will arouse suspicion."
abuse to last me a life time. I should have quit long ago. I want to see the brighter side of life. I want to make sure you kids get there safely. At any rate I was telling the truth about having a good shot at working for an adoption agency when I get back. If you can't find your uncle you are welcome to come live with me if you wish to."
pounding her fist on the helm. Ray was leaning in the door- way, staying out of the conversation. He was looking back down river the way they had come. “So long Morganza, Louisiana and as for you, (their father and mother) the hell with you both!”, he added vehemently and spat out the straw he had been chewing on. Tears began to roll down his cheeks.
just seemed to escalate overnight to beating mom after that.”
to have enough sense to not beat her any more but what he couldn't do physically he made up verbally.”
From then on we always hid Natty when ever he was around. Once Ray tried to protect mom, he got a broken arm for his effort. He threatened to kill Ray the next time he butted in. From then on we all hid in the woods until he
would tire of beating mom or run out of booze; then he would
another day's adventure. Entering the kitchen Natty stopped. The strange lady was standing behind the funny wheel that made the floor move. Natty sat in the doorway silently studying the lady.
still stood behind the funny wheel. The lady just stood staring straight ahead. Natty ventured out tentatively a little farther into the kitchen. The lady didn't move.
pulled an apple pie out and placed it on the floor.
usually weren't home at this time of day but she was glad to see that she would have some one to play with now.She climbed on to Sandy's bed and jumped up and down yelling, “Gatap! Gatap! Gatap!”
his watch. Hurriedly, still in a sleep induced daze, he got up and made his way toward the washroom which was just off from the kitchen. All that was on his mind was that he was late for school.
through the floor boards. He had not ever even let his mother see him in his under wear let alone a stranger and a woman at that.
about me. That's OK I've seen a few men's underwear in my time, with the men in them.”
then she puts stuff back in after," Clare informed him.
Clare suggested. Ray was beginning to like this lady.
and were going home to Uncle Sal. What more could you ask for, no more drunken fights, no more sick mother. We won't have to do all of the grown up stuff any more."
creep of a father of ours that made her that way." Sandy slumped down to the floor letting her hair cover her face while she cried.
was leaving he turned to her and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't
it, then I'd hate myself for being so selfish."
"It's OK, it's all over now, look for the future," Clare sat beside Sandy and stroked her hair gently and talked softly to her. "It's OK honey, It's all over now. I know that was a rotten deal that you three were given but it's over. You can't dwell on the past, you have to look for the future. I've seen many children go through similar situ- ations as you have and come out winners in the end. You're a beautiful girl, you are just starting your life and you have the whole world at your feet to choose from. Don't throw it away, don't sour up to the world, please don't do that to yourself,” Clare crooned, rocking her in her arms. “You deserve more than that. Don't end up like your mother."
love you, too, Sprite. Thanks Clare, I know what you meant, I don't want to end up like our mother. I just feel deep sorrow for her. Death would have been better than the life she lived for the last six years. I just hope you're right and this is going to be a turn-around for the better for us."
were capable of doing," Clare said, putting her hand on Sandy's shoulder. It was a beautiful morning. The rising sun reflected off the wavelets on the river like glittery diamonds. A few spring birds sang gaily from the budding trees on the shoreline.
the pieces of the broken radio off the floor and set them on the table. The radio was an important item, it kept them tuned to the outside world and they needed to know more than ever what was going on out there. If he couldn't put it back together they would have to get another one some place, he thought.
"What are you so deep in thought about?," Clare asked Ray.
discover us missing, Ray responded. “It will probably be two or three days before the school board starts inquiring, after that it will depend on how long it takes the police to investigate and find the river boat missing, let's say another two days. Add to this another day or two before they issue out a missing persons report on us. We have about a week to get as far north as we can,” Ray informed her.
me in it," Clare responded.
“Indeed it is.”