Jack could feel a goose egg on the back of his head where he had hit the driveway the night before. He was covered with cuts and scratches. He wiggled his toes. He wiggled his fingers. He moved an arm, then a leg. Everything else seemed to be okay. He gingerly sat up on the edge of the bed, then stood up, and then walked across the room to peek out the window. It was a dreary and overcast morning.
“What happened last night?” he muttered as he ran back through his foggy memory of the orphanage, Sister Kim telling him to escape, riding by moonlight, getting lost, … and…seeing a raccoon delivering newspapers? Getting attacked by the raccoon? Was that real? The bumps and bruises said yes.
Jack could smell a pancake breakfast coming from out the door and down the hall, so he followed his nose to the kitchen, where he found the family that lived in the house. Momma cougar was busy wiping syrup out of the hair of two grade-school aged children and didn’t notice Jack as he went to the stove and filled up a plate of pancakes and sausages.
The dad sat behind one of the Des Moines Register newspapers that had been scattered across the front lawn and driveway last night. Jack read the various headlines on the front page as he filled a glass from the pitcher on the counter. There were news stories on political debates, the price of oil, and a new auditing system for the newspaper. Blah, blah, blah.
Jack sat down at the table, still unnoticed, and took a big drink from the glass he had poured. “Splooosh!” went the contents of the glass all over the table. “Ackkkkkkk!” sputtered Jack as he fell out of his chair and ran to the sink, gasping and choking. “Yeaaaaaaay!” cheered the kids at the table as they finally noticed Jack, who by this time was hunched over the kitchen sink trying to drink directly from the faucet.
“What was that?” Jack yelled once he caught his breath and could speak. “Are you trying to poison me?”
“Oh, gee, sorry about that,” said the mom. “I keep bleach water in that pitcher. Lots of messes, you know.” The kids she had just finished cleaning up scampered from the table and ran around the kitchen, still cheering.
“You’ll be fine,” said the dad. “It’s pretty dilute. The kids have been into it a few times, and they’ve always bounced back. Besides, it cleans out the insides, eh?”
They eased him back to his chair at the table. “You’ll want to get that bleach taste out of your mouth. I’ll pour you a glass of orange juice from the other pitcher,” said the mom. “Ooops, I almost got the wrong pitcher. Here’s the juice pitcher.” She poured some juice into a clean glass and placed it before a doubtful Jack. Not wanting to be rude, Jack decided to leave the juice alone and focus on the food. He devoured a couple of helpings of everything put before him, and then in a moment of forgetfulness, took a big drink from the juice glass.
“Splooosh!” went the contents all over the table. “Ackkkkk!” sputtered Jack once again as he fell out of his chair and ran for the sink. “Yeaaaaah!” cheered the kids, who had evidently mixed the two pitchers together when no one was looking so that both pitchers now had bleach water.
to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]