And Her Children Shall Rise...
Author's Note: I usually come up with a Christmas story around this time, but I'm suffering writer's block right now. I decided to repost this one instead for the holidays. Merry Christmas, one and all!
She floated through the misty landscape, a delicate white flower adrift in space and time. Her pale, bare feet could not step onto terra firma, her slender hands could not grasp anything tangible, yet she was not afraid.
In the distance she saw a shape forming in front of her. She drifted closer. The shape was a man. The shape was her husband.
"John." She spoke his name in a whisper.
"Didi." Though close enough, he seemed to echo from a distance.
She approached him with open arms, as did he. How she missed his touch, his strong hands caressing her! Ten long years, almost an eternity, had they been apart. Now they embraced again, husband and wife, man and woman, together as one.
He pressed her down, down...down onto a stinking mattress in a shabby bedroom of an abandoned house. A grubby hand siezed her, the edge of a knife at her throat. She looked up and saw not the face of her beloved husband, but the Vegas Bomber, the man who abducted her and held her prisoner!
"I can do anything I want with you!" he hissed, leering into her face. " Anything at all!"
Dimitra woke with a start, breathing hard, her heart pounding in her chest, clutching the blankets around her. She found herself in he own bed, in her own room, in her own house in Long Island, New York. She gave a ragged sigh. It had all been a bad dream. Four weeks, she counted. A whole month. A whole month had gone by since the Vegas Bomber had met his firey end in the back of a police van, after she escaped from that locked room with the help of God, her son, Christopher, and her Guardian Angel to protect her. A whole month, and the nightmares continued, even after her sprained ankle had healed and her sons saw her off safely back to New York, with Costa to look after her. After an entire month of freedom, he still held her prisoner.
She curled up under the covers and began to cry.
Criss Angel sighed as his cell phone went off in his pocket. Who was it this time? he wondered. Producers, editors, reporters, photgraphers, management, fans--it seemed the whole world made demands on his time. Such was the price of fame, he thought. Still, he wished for just a few moments for himself, get his thoughts together, or just dream.
He pulled out the phone and flipped it open. Costa, the tiny screen read. Well, at least it was family. "Hey, Costa, what's up?"
"Hi, Criss," his brother responded on the other end. "Thought you'd like to know about Mom."
"Sure." Criss always wanted to know about Mom, especially about her welfare. The kidnapping had shaken her so badly she was afraid to be alone. She forsook her own suite at the Luxor to spend a night or two with Criss in his own. That was why Costa volunteered to fly with her to New York. "How is she doing?"
"Well, for the past few weeks, she'd been acting pretty weird."
"Weird?" Criss was bewildered. "Whaddya mean, 'weird'?"
"Well, she wouldn't leave the house for the first week or two since she got home. She'd lock the doors and double check the home security system. Some days she wouldn't even get out of bed. I'd ask her what was wrong, and she'd snap at me. Once I came in to check on her, and I found her hiding behind a chair."
Criss stood in stunned silence. This wasn't his mother at all. What had turned this sweet, beautiful woman into a cowering wreck?
"Did you do anything for her? Take her to a doctor or something?"
"I did manage to get her to a doctor," Costa admitted. "He said she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She is still living in fear from the kidnapping. She says it still gives her nightmares."
Criss mentally damned the Vegas Bomber for the damage he inflicted upon his beloved mother. It was bad enough that both he and Costa were injured from his attacks--hell, he nearly lost his career because of him--but to make his mother suffer like that, even beyond the grave (if he had one) was unbearable. (1)
"What did the doctor say to do to help her?" he inquired.
"Well, he said she should 'go outside of herself'. You know, take up an activity, do some volunteer work. Do something to get her life back to normal. In the meantime, we're to give her all the love and support we can give, and to be patient in the meantime."
Do volunteer work. Go outside of herself. That sounded like good advice. It would at least get her out of the house. As for love and support, she already had plenty of that. Not only from her own family, but on the Loyal Community website.
When word of Dimitra's abduction got out, the Loyal websites everywhere almost blew up. If their outrage for the Bomber's attack on Criss himself inflamed the Loyals' outrage, then the kidnappping of their beloved Mother Angel added fuel the fire. Prayers for her safe return stood side by side with vitrolic threats against the Bomber. Loyals competed with each other as to who could come up with the most vindictive epithets. Many had to be deleted. Others wept cybertears on line for Dimitra's plight. So much love and support for her and her family filled page after page of Criss Angel websites all around the world, it would have qualified for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dimitra would have all the love and support she needed to recover.
"Well, she's got mine already," Criss told his brother. "Is she there? Can I talk to her?"
"Yeah, she's right here." A pause while the phone was passed. Then, "Hello, Christopher."
"Hi, Mom, how ya doin'?" He tried to sound upbeat. "You feeling okay?"
"I'm fine." She tried to sound upbeat, too. "Are you all right?"
"I'm doing all right, it's you I'm worried about."
"Yeah, Costa's been telling me you've been having bad dreams and being scared and all."
"Oh, that." She seemed to drift. "I'm sorry for all that. I just..."
"Mom. it's gonna be okay. You just need to start living again. Go out and do some volunteer work like the doctor said. You don't have to be afraid anymore. The Bomber is dead. He can't hurt you anymore. You're safe."
"Well, I...I don't know..."
"You can do it, Mom, I know you can. You were always there for me, supporting all I did, even if it worried you half to death. You gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. You just need to find it in yourself."
He heard a sniffle over the line. "Mom, don't cry. No more tears, okay? Just find something you want to do and just do it, okay? Don't let your fears get in the way. Always remember, we all love you."
"I love you, Chris." she quavered.
"I love you more," he replied.
During lunch, Criss' cousin, George Strumpolis, was telling his cousins about his fiancee's sister's parole hearing.
"Not only did she ask for a cell with a private bathroom," he laughed, "but she even asked if there was a hair salon in there!"
Everyone doubled over laughing. Talk about being unclear of the concept! Ever since Bianca Honi had been sentenced to two years for petty theft, she had been totally incapable of adjusting to prison life. Accustomed to salons, day spas and health clubs, she was a fish out of water among the prison population. Indeed, the other prisoners made this little "fish" feel very unwelcome on their turf. Mass produced, inferior meals, one shower a week, a cramped cell shared no bigger than a walk-in closet, grueling work details--it was hell on earth for a pampered princess such as Bianca.
"And get this," he continued, his cousins all ears. "She even went to the warden and asked for a weekend pass to attend the wedding!" (2)
"You've got to be kidding me!" Criss shook his head in disbelief, laughing.
"Swear to God!" George raised his hand to affirm the truth. "She really did! Warden turned her down flat, of course."
"Oh, man!" JD rubbed his face to compose himself. "So, did she make parole?"
"Hell, no! The parole board said she hadn't been 'rehabilitated' enough. Anyway, I'm glad she's still in there. She'd have ruined the whole wedding."
Criss and JD nodded in agreement. Bianca had been a self-centered narcissist who abused her sister, Angela, George's fiancee', phyically and emotionally. Maybe a stint in prison would make her a better person, they had reasoned. Maybe not.
"So," JD spoke up, changing the subject. "When is the wedding again?"
"Last week in June," George answered. "You got the invitation, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but it slipped my mind for a moment." JD smiled apolgetically. Then he sighed. "Hope Mom will be okay for the trip."
"What's wrong with your mom?" George became concerned.
"Well, ever since that kidnapping by the Bomber, she's been going through post-traumatic stress disorder." JD explained. "She's been living in fear and acting kinda strange--hiding behind furniture, things like that."
"Gee, that's too bad," George sympathized. "Hope she gets over it before the wedding. I don't want her to miss it."
"The doctor said she should go outside of herself and do some volunteer work to help get her back in the swing of things." Criss added.
"What kind of volunteer work did they suggest?"
"They didn't suggest anything," Criss replied. "Just get out of the house and start living."
"Hmmmm. I wonder what kind of volunteer work your mom could do?" George mused.
"Oh, I dunno, uh, maybe help with the homeless," Criss suggested. "After all, that's what Angie does."
"Or the Red Cross," JD offered. "She's seen you get hurt enough to learn all the first aid she needs."
"Yeah, ha, ha, I forgot how to laugh," Criss sneered. "Maybe work with kids?"
"How about Habitats for Humanity?" George spoke up.
"Oh, yeah, right!" Criss sneered again. "My mother in a hard hat and tool belt hammering two-by-fours? I don't think so!"
"Look, whatever she chooses, it'll help her to help others," JD said with all finality. "She's doing this more for herself than for anybody else."
"Yeah, JD is right," Criss concurred. "It'll be good for her to go out and do something worthwhile, help her forget all the hell she'd been through." And he'd feel better, too, he thought. Whatever made his mother happy was all right by him. The question remained: What kind of volunteer work would best be suited for Dimitra?
(1) See "Avenging Angel"
(2) See "The Cave of Sorrow"
"Gooooood Morning, Sin City! This is Artie Creed on KLOL, Las Vegas, bringing you the show that tells you where it's at!"
Artie Creed was the Southwest's least liked yet most listened to disc jockey, an opinionated loudmouth with a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease, for whom freedom of speech was not a right but a continuous obligation. His take-no-prisoners approach to broadcasting had earned him the ire of many of Las Vegas' notables, as well as the listening public in general. One of his favorite targets for his venomous barbs was Criss Angel, whom he derided as a fraud, a phoney, and a mama's boy. Criss's fans, the Loyals, found him irritating at best, like a case of poison ivy. Creed's most recent gabfest had included a quip about Criss' near-fatal murder attempt by the Vegas Bomber. While it seemed Creed had shown a modicum of sympathy for Criss' welfare, he reverted to character and stated that "Criss may have to trade his kittycat for a seeing-eye dog!"
That had lit up the station's phone lines like the Vegas Strip at midnight. Dozens of angry Loyals vented their wrath over the airwaves, but were always cut short by Creed. He only took calls from those who agreed with him. Dissent was screened out. Still, this did not deter the Loyals--they made their case known on the KLOL website, as well as all the other websites dedicated to Criss Angel. The management had pleaded with Creed to "tone it down". Creed was unrepentant, as usual. He cited the First Amendment, which to him was the equivalent of the First Commandment. He had the power of the airwaves, and he would wield it at his whim.
Artie took another sip of coffee from his jumbo-sized mug. "In the world of entertainment, it seems David Copperfield showed a girl in the Bahamas his magic wand and what he could do with it. If he wants to keep performing, he'd better disappear and soon!"
The recent flak about David Copperfield's sexual assault accusation on the Bahamas had been too good for Artie to pass up. Copperfield claimed he had cancelled his shows because he had not been paid, he stated. Or was it? Creed posed that question to his listeners. The phone line lit up. "Hello, you're on the air!" Creed crowed.
"Listen, Creed," the voice on the other end said. "I say David Copperfield is innocent. If that girl was raped by him, why did she wait until she was in the US to report it?"
"I'd say, I don't care what you say." Creed hung up. "Next caller. Hello, you're on the air."
"Yeah, what the hell have you got against celebrities, anyway? They're people, like you and me, you know?"
"Maybe they're like you, but not like me--a bunch of morons!" Another hang-up. "Next caller, you're on the air!"
"You know, Creed, on of these days, you are really going to--"
"Next caller! You're on the air!"
"Hey, Costa," Criss greeted his brother in New York over the phone during a rare break from taping MindFreak. "How's Mom been doing? Is she still acting, you know, weird?"
"No, the weirdness is gone," Costa answered. "I got her into counseling. She's still in a bit of a shell, though. Not very sociable."
"You think she'll be okay in time for George's wedding?"
"The counselor says she's making good progress. It was a one time thing, so it'll be easier to overcome. Aunt Popi and Aunt Stella are staying with her in the meantime."
Criss was relieved. He was confident his mother would be all right. His aunts would give her all the support she needed. Maybe get her out of the house, take her to a movie or something. The wedding wasn't until late June, so it would give her plenty of time to heal.
But the wedding was in Vegas, the scene of the crime. Would returning to Las Vegas trigger a relapse? The bomb damage in the Atrium had been repaired so well it was as if it hadn't even been hit. The sites of the Bomber's last two attacks on Ubeck street had been leveled and repaved. His hideout was a vacant lot. Every sign of the Vegas Bomber had been erased; nothing remained to remind anyone of the horror back in February. The Board of Directors had launched a promotional advertising blitz to try to lure tourists back to the city, that Las Vegas was still the place to go for fun, entertainment and gambling. They had to make up for all the revenue lost because of the Bomber's attacks had driven away so many paying customers. Criss himself had starred in these ads, doing his best sleight of hand and turning on the personal charm which had melted so many female hearts. Yet, scars remained in the city's psyche. Dozens of people walked the Strip, traumatized by what they had experienced. Some avoided the Magic Castle after witnessing its near demolition. A few still could not turn the ignition of their cars without trepedition, fearing it might detonate a car bomb. Las Vegas could not exorcise the ghost of the Bomber from its collective soul.
"Is Mom there?" Criss asked.
"No, she and Aunt Popi went shopping. They'll be back in an hour or so."
Shopping. That was a good sign. It meant Mom was getting out and rejoining the rest of the world. Criss smiled. "Just tell her I called, and tell her I love her, okay? I want to see her at the wedding."
"Sure," Costa agreed. " 'Bye."
A pounding on the RV door brought him back to reality. "Criss, we're ready to start shooting."
"Okay, I'm coming!" Criss yelled as he rose and stepped out of the RV, ready to perform.
Calliope and Dimitra returned home, laden with shopping bags from an assortment of department stores. Costa offered to help carry them in with a derisive laugh. "Geez, Ma, what'd you do, buy out the whole mall or something?"
"Blame your Aunt Popi," she retorted. "Once she starts, she doesn't stop."
The bags were set on the dining room table. Dimitra collapsed onto the sofa. "My feet hurt so bad. Why did you drag me all over the place?" She looked accusingly at Calliope.
"You needed to get out," she replied simply, "I take you out."
Dimitra glanced at the mountain of shopping bags on the table. "Too much stuff," she said, shaking her head. "Too much stuff."
Stella entered the room. "You're back," she smiled. "Good! I have something to tell you, Didi."
Dimitra looked up. "What?" she asked tiredly.
"You know they said you should do some volunteer work."
"They suggested I do volunteer work, yes."
"Well, I found an ad in the paper today." Stella produced the classifieds. "It says here there's a home for foster children who need someone to look after them. It's not too far from here, and you'd be perfect for the job."
Caring for foster children? Dimitra pondered. True, she had plenty of experience, mothering three sons, but caring for children she knew nothing about would be a challenge. She was not that young anymore; it took a lot of stamina to care for even one child, let alone a whole group. Yet, time hung so heavily on her hands now that her own boys were grown. She spent most of her time worrying about Chris doing his dangerous "demonstrations". And the doctor said she needed to go outside of herself.
"Mom, I think it's a great idea." Costa said. "You're a great mother, and these kids need you. You'd be the best thing that ever happened to them."
"Dima, darling," Popi curled her arm around her. "You can't spend the rest of your life cooped up in this house. I know you went through a terrible ordeal, but now it is time to live again. Helping these children will help you."
Dimitra looked up at her sisters and her son. "Let me think about it," she said. "I'll give you an answer in the morning."
"How about Habitats for Humanity?" George spoke up.
"Oh, yeah, right!" Criss sneered again. "My mother in a hard hat and tool belt hammering two-by-fours? I don't think so!"
Honestly I can see Dimitra do that
Dimitra stood on the stoop of the large manor-like house, clutching her handbag nervously. It took a great deal of courage on her part to come here. When she answered the ad for a volunteer to aid foster children, she had a few misgivings. The gentleman on the phone, a Mr. Webber, had seemed nice enough, and she agreed to come in for an interview.
From what she gathered from her conversation with Mr. Webber, there were fourteen children, ranging in age from two to twelve. They were wards of the state, he explained, until they were either adopted or turned eighteen. To hire someone would mean cutting into their benefits, and the monthly stipend was stretched to the breaking point already. They needed a loving, maternal figure in their lives to nurture them.
Dimitra felt overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for so many kids. Fourteen children! Would she be able to handle them all? Raising three boys was strenuous enough, especially Christopher, who had been a handful by himself, but she had been their mother: she had raised them from birth. These children would be strangers to her, and she to them. What if they had been abused? Neglected? What if they were disabled? How would she care for them?
She was torn between going in and running away. She suddenly felt the urge to turn around, go back home and hide.
Hide? she scolded herself. Run away and hide behind the furniture like a mouse, like you did before? Costa thought you had gone mad when he found you like that! What is the matter with you? You made a promise to Mr. Webber and you are going to keep it! Those children need you! What, are you going to stand there all day? Move it!
Dimitra took a deep breath, rang the doorbell, and waited. There. She did it. She took the first step. She heard heavy footsteps growing louder as they approached. The heavy door opened, and a pudgy, sweaty fellow in a grey suit greeted her. "You must be Mrs....I forgot your name again." he stumbled, his baggy jowls quivering like a turkey's wattle.
"Sarantakos," Dimitra reminded him. "But you may call me Dimitra."
"Dimitra," he repeated. "I'm Mr. Webber. Please come in."
Dimitra stepped into the spacious foyer. Though large and rather elegant after a fashion, there were signs of neglect everywhere. Dust coated every horizontal surface. The windows were grey with dirt. The threadbare carpets were in dire need of a vacuum cleaner. She thought it disgraceful to keep a house like this with children around.
She followed Mr. Webber into his office, almost a landfill with papers and books piled floor to ceiling. It was a wonder he got any work done, she thought.
"All right, Dimitra," Mr. Webber settled himself into a huge, worn leather chair behind the paper laden desk. "You will be responsible for the care, feeding and education of fourteen foster children, Monday through Saturday, seven AM through six PM." He leaned back, the chair creaking under his weight. "We're under a very tight budget here, so no extravagances. Understand?"
"Yes, sir," Dimitra nodded. Oh, she knew about tight budgets, all right. Being married to a self-employed cafe owner, raising three boys of her own, things got tight when business slumped at times. Not to mention there was her childhood in war-torn Greece, which pained her even after sixty years living in America.
"These kids have a lot of problems, coming from broken homes. You think you can handle it?"
"I will do my best, Mr. Webber," she replied as confidently as she could.
"Good." Mr. Webber wrenched himself from his chair. "I'll introduce you to the children."
Dimitra followed the sweating man to a large dormitory-like room. As he opened the double doors, a foul stench hit Dimitra squarely in the face. She looked around the room. A dozen filthy beds and a large crib lined up in two rows lengthwise, covered in thin blankets. A group of scrawny, ragged children huddled together fearfully, suspicious of this stranger among them. Dimitra was appalled at the sight of them. Didn't this man know how to take care of these poor children?
"Okay, line up," Mr. Webber ordered.
The children shuffled hesitantly into formation, still casting a wary eye on Dimitra.
Mr. Webber walked up to a brown-haired, gawkish girl of about twelve or so. "This is Heather, our oldest. She does a good job watching over the littler ones. Don't you, sweetheart?"
"Yes, Mr. Webber," Heather replied politely.
"Heather, this is Mrs.--"
"Sarantakos" Dimitra prompted.
"Sarantakos. She'll be our new caregiver for you and the others."
"Hello, Heather," Dimitra smiled, extending her hand. Heather took it rather hesitantly.
"And this is our oldest boy, Roland." He laid his hand on a gangly black youth.
"Hi," Roland said. "I can't say your name. Can I call you Mrs. S.?"
Dimitra smiled at him. "Of course you can," she said.
"And this is Buddy." Buddy just made a feeble wave.
"This is China. Come, come, dear, meet your new caregiver."
China didn't want to meet her new caregiver. She just glared at Dimitra with a hatred beyond her years. Dimitra realized she would have to be more patient with this one.
Mr, Webber stepped up to a red-haired, freckle-faced boy, who reminded Dimitra of Huckleberry Finn. "This is Buck."
"Hello, Buck. It is nice to meet you."
"Hi," Buck said. "You look like a grandma. Are you a grandma?"
"Why, yes, I am," Dimitra replied proudly. "I have a granddaughter who's about eighteen or so."
"And this is Brandy...Aaron...Austin--they're brothers, by the way--Jamal...Derek...Tanvi...Chris..."
"Chris? I have a son named Chris!" Dimitra said, delighted at the coincidence.
"You do?" the little boy said curiously. "Is he here?"
"No, dear, he lives far away in Las Vegas."
"And over here," Mr. Webber walked over to the crib. "We have Kira--she's about four. And our youngest, Mia."
Dimitra stared in horror at little Mia. Nearly her entire left side was badly burned, up to her neck and a part of her tiny face. Upon closer inspection, she discovered that Mia's left hand was only a stump. The baby stared back at Dimitra with large, soulful eyes. She was clad only in a disposable diaper. She was two years old, but looked less than one. She looked like...like...
She looks like a victim of the Vegas Bomber!
Dimitra recoiled at the thought. She came here to forget that nightmare. It was something else that injured this poor baby, she told herself. It must have happened before then.
"Well, I'll leave you to get aquainted with your new charges," Mr. Webber said jovially. "They're your responsibility now."
He left the dormitory, sweating and panting like a huge dog. Dimitra looked sorrowfully at these poor pitiful young ones.
Dear Lord, she prayed silently, give me the strength and the resources to help these children, for their lives are wretched, and their souls are troubled. I give them to You to heal and make whole again. Amen .
Raul Alvarez strung heavy electrical cable through the holes drilled in the two-by-fours of the housing framework. It was mid-morning. His apprenticship was going well. He enjoyed his work and the people he worked with. If everything went as good as it was going right now, he'd have his electrician's license in a year or so. He was a gifted electrician, his supervisors said. His mother bragged about him at church, proud that her son had followed an honest trade instead of falling into gang life like so many of his peers. But he had an even bigger reputation to live up to. He was a member of Team Angel, one of the group of five who nailed the Vegas Bomber and put him behind bars. Or at least the first time, they did. The (bleeper) escaped jail and ended up blowing himself up instead.(3). Oh, well, it was as his Tio' Alberto said: It saved the taxpayers' money that way. No expensive trial, no stay in prison at the public's expense. He would have been executed, anyway, but only after a long appeals process which would have taken years. His suicide was quicker and cheaper in the long run.
He still hooked up with Brent on occasion, and was currently dating Amber. He rememberd how hot she looked in the limo when they went to see Criss Angel in the hospital. That sexy red dress--RRROWWWWLL!
Someone had tuned into KLOL on the dusty, battered radio perched on a sawhorse on the second level. Artie Creed was his usual, obnoxious self, skewering anyone who blundered their way into media attention, be they celebrites or ordinary citizens who had fame thrust upon them by act or circumstance. Raul thought Creed a pain in the ass. All he did was trash people's reputations. At least, with the construction noise around him, he could drown out his specious claptrap until Creed decided to actually play some music like he was supposed to.
Raul continued threading electical wire through the frame. Over the screech of a power saw, he could not hear Creed's latest blather about Criss Angel and his latest demonstration--or, rather, repeat demonstration, for he would once again attempt the motorcycle stunt he had tried to perform when the Bomber attacked.
Meanwhile, at KLOL, Artie was in rare form, burning the airwaves with his incendiary views regarding Criss Angel.
"In another attempt to prove his overinflated ego, Criss Angel will once again try to jump his motorcycle and make it disappear. Someone should tell that Evel Kneval wannabe to make himself disappear--permanantly! He states that it's to show the public that he is not afraid of the Vegas Bomber. I say he just wants to show off! I mean, how many stunts does this loser have to do before he wakes up and smells the toast burning? He's like a little kid, you know? 'Hey, Mom! Lookit me! No hands!' No brains, either. Do yourselves a favor, people. Stay home and do your laundry or something. Don't pay any attention to this overgrown child, Criss Angel. He'll get tired and go away, and we'll all be happy."
The phone line in the studio lit up. "Hello, you're on the air."
"You know what I think?" the caller on the other end said.
"Not really," Artie retorted, hanging up. "Hello, you're on the air,"
"Maybe Criss Angel should make you disappear--permanantly!" the second caller snarled.
"Hey, I'm just doing my job here. You can't handle the truth, tough luck!" He hung up. He wanted to use something stronger, but the jerkwads of the FCC wouldn't let him. Regulations, they said. Well, to hell with them! He was Artie Creed, champion of truth and free speech. He had the power of the airwaves, and he would say what he damned well pleased, FCC or no.
Johnny Thompson, Criss' MindFreak consultant and dear friend, stepped into the production office, where he was surprised to see Criss listening to the Artie Creed show on KLOL. He'd never heard Creed say anything positive about Criss, or anyone else for that matter. And here was Criss, listening to Creed's trashing of him and not even flinching.
"How can you listen to that crap?" Johnny asked, appalled.
"Hey," Criss smiled. "The more he trashes me, the better publicity I get! He's been my best PR man! It's reverse psychology, you know? He can say anything he wants about me until he's blue in the face! I still come out ahead!"
Johnny sighed. That may all be very well and good now, but he knew that someday Creed would cross a line somewhere, and then all unholy hell would break loose. Creed was notorious for fanning rumors, true or not. Yes, one of these days, Creed would go too far, if he hadn't gone too far already, and then there would be hell to pay.
(3) See "Avenging Angel"
Criss always knows how to see the bright side of things
They stared at the strange lady before them, these pitiful waifs in Mr. Webber's care. As soon as their guardian left the room, they broke ranks and huddled back together as before, muttering among themselves.
"She looks nice."
"I hope she doesn't beat us like the last one."
"She talks funny. Where she from?"
"She's kinda old. Think she'll have a heart attack and die?"
"Well, I'm just asking!"
"I hope she cooks better than the last one. I'm hungry!"
Dimitra, for her part, sized up her new charges, realizing she had her work cut out for her. For one thing, they all needed baths, clean clothes, and fresh bedding. There was plenty of space in this house; why did Mr. Webber not separate the boys from the girls in regards to sleeping arrangments? Fourteen children crammed together in one room? It was unhealthy, not to mention improper, especially with the older children. The eldest girl, Heather, was beginning to blossom into womanhood. Roland, the oldest boy, would soon become a man in time. Sharing the same room together at such a sensitve time in their lives was not wise, to say the least. And the younger children were exposed to all kinds of germs in such crowded conditions. There had to be some changes made for their sake, and the first was cleanliness.
"All right, darlings," Dimitra announced. "First, you are all going to take a bath. Then, we'll find some clean clothes for you. Now, where is the bathroom?"
Heather pointed out the doors. "Down the hall to your left," she explained simply.
"Thank you, dear." Dimitra said, and headed for the bathroom where Heather directed. When she got there, she almost fainted from shock. The bathroom was the most squalid mess she ever had the misfortune to see. Walls were grimy and scaly, rust streaked the porcelain, the toilet leaked, and the bathtub beggared description. It should have been condemmed by the Board of Health, she thought. The children would come out of there even dirtier than they went in!
She searched the tiny cabinet for any cleaning materials, and found none. She sighed. Cleanliness was next to Godliness, she had been told, but in this house, cleanliness was next to impossible.
Costa rang up Criss that evening, mid afternoon Las Vegas time. Criss answered after the fourth or fifth ring.
"Hey, Costa, whassup?"
"Just wanted to let you know that Mom's found a volunteer job taking care of foster kids." Costa informed him. "Fourteen of them."
"Hey! That's great!" Criss cheered. "So, what's she doing?"
"Everything," Costa replied. "She says that place is a dump, and those kids are really in bad shape."
"Gee, that's too bad. But I know Mom will set things right. You'll see."
"God, I hope so. Well, I gotta go. Later."
"Yeah, later." Criss flipped his phone off. So his mother was taking care of foster kids, he mused. What a wonderful woman she was! Forty-plus years of raising kids, and she still had room enough in her heart of hearts to reach out to children who needed love and nurturing. He knew they would benefit greatly from her tender loving care. She would be the best thing to come into their little lives. And they would be the best thing for her as well. By caring for them, they in turn would heal her of the trauma she had suffered at the hands of the Vegas Bomber, may he rot in Hell, and give her a new lease on life. It was win-win all around.
Sixteen hundred dollars. That was her entire budget. Sixteen hundred dollars to clothe, feed and care for fourteen children for and entire month. Not to mention maintain the house, pay the utilities and other necessities too numerous to mention. No wonder Mr. Webber said "no extravangances." What extravagances was he talking about? Was food an extravagance? Decent clothes, were they an extravagance? But, Mr. Webber insisted that was all he got for them. There had been budget cuts in the social services division, and sixteen hundred was the best he could do, no matter how he tried to negotiate.
Dimitra sighed. She was going to need help here. The house was a filthy mess, as were the children themselves, and there was hardly any fresh food for them. It was time to call in reinforcements.
She could call Stella, Popi, Costa, the church--anyone who was available to lend a hand. She could get clothes at the Salvation Army, GoodWill, and St. Vincent de Paul's. She could go to Costco for bulk food and cleaning supplies. She could scour flea markets and yard sales for bedding and other supplies. She could even appeal to Christopher for money, if she had to. She knew he would be glad to help. He had donated time and money for disadvantaged children before; she was sure he would come up with something to help these poor little ones. One way or another, she was going to rescue these poor children from the squalor in their lives.
First thing she did when she returned home that day, she made a few phone calls. Stella and Popi agreed to come over and clean the house. Costa would move some furniture into another room to create separate quarters for the girls and a nursery for the two youngest. Then she called Christopher, explaining the situation and asking for any type of financial assistance. Of course, he came through, wiring four thousand dollars to her, "for starters", he told her.
The next day, Dimitra organized the older children into cleaning crews to help. She did the laundry at a local laundromat (the washer and dryer at the house were inoperable) and make sure the children had decent clothes and clean bedding. Those tissue-thin blankets were out--GoodWill provided better ones. It was be a lot of work, but in the end, it was worth it.
Next, she had some serious shopping to do. Cleaning supplies, food, and other necessities were on her list, and there was no time to waste. She'd get that house in order and those kids in shape if she had to pay for everything out of her own pocket!
As it turned out, that's exactly what she had to do. In fact, despite her careful bargain hunting, thrift store purchases, and dollar stretching at the supermarket, she spent a near fortune of her own money for everything she needed to help the children. Clothing, except for what was donated, came to about two or three hundred dollars. Underwear had to be purchased new, for health laws prohibited the sale of secondhand underclothing, from Kira's training pants to Heather's first bra. Shoes took out the biggest chunk of the clothing budget, even if they were purchased at the Salvation Army store. Dimitra pulled out her sewing basket and made any necessary alterations herself; she spent long hours lowering hems, stiching up rips, attaching buttons and fixing zippers.
Food was the next item. Years of working in the restaraunt business with her husband gave her an eye for quality food at a good price, but food prices had shot up since then, and a week's groceries which had cost thirty dollars in the past now cost almost a hundred. Milk alone was three dollars a gallon. Fourteen growing children with healthy appetites would go through a lot of food in just one day. The monthly stipend barely covered two weeks' worth. Again, she made up for it out of her own pocket, even raiding her own kitchen for foodstuffs. Maybe she could start a vegetable garden in the back yard. The children would enjoy it, and they would have fresh vegetables to eat. It was an idea worth talking to Mr. Webber about.
Then there were the other expenses: Cleaning supplies, diapers for Mia, medical and first aid supplies, things for school. How could sixteen hundred cover all that? She couldn't keep spending all her own money forever. She'd go broke. Even with Christopher's help, she'd still wouldn't have enough to keep up with the demands of raising these kids. There had to be a better way.
She heard her mother's voice echoing from beyond the grave. No matter how bleak things are right now, the Lord will provide. You must have faith, Didi. The Lord will provide for our needs. Those same words got her family through the Depression, the Nazi Occupation of Greece, their migration to America, and the first few years in their adopted country. They got her through the first years of her marriage to John Sarantakos, when they were a struggling young couple trying to make it in the restauarant business, then when they became parents for the first time, then a second time, and finally a third. They sustained her through every conceivable hardship, from near bankruptcy to medical emergencies to John's death from cancer. And even through the inconceivable, like Christopher's so-called "demonstrations' and the Vegas Bomber attacks. You must have faith. The Lord will provide.
Dimitra should get saint hood for this
Brenda Creed flipped through her collection of sheet music for an appropriate piece to which to practice her violin. What was she in the mood for? The Meditation theme from Thais? No, she did that yesterday. Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings? Too depressing; it always made her cry. Ah! Here was one--The Partita in D Minor for unaccompaied violin by Bach. She hadn't played that one in a while. It would cheer her up, divert her from the lonliness and frustration in her life.
She set up the sheets on the music stand, sat down on her stool, and began to play. Her fingers danced across the fret of her beloved violin, her greatest if not her only joy in life. The Partita resounded throughout the house, clear and sweet and beautiful. Whenever she played, her spirits soared, free of the misery Artie inflicted upon her with his snide remarks and cutting sarcasm. True, he never physically abused her, but his tongue was just as brusing as a fist.
Brenda had met Artie at Washington State where she had been studying music and he was a communications major, working at the campus radio station. When she first met him, she thought him witty if not downright hilarious. He, in turn, fell hopelessly in lust for her, with her silky blonde hair, ample bosom, and tight little tushie, as he put it. After graduation, Brenda had a shot at making the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, with Gerard Schwarz conducting and composer Alan Hovhaness providing the most moving scores she had ever known. Artie, however, pleaded undying love for her and proposed marriage. Her mother persuaded her to give up the opportunity at the SSO, saying that a violin was no substitute for a husband. Artie was a good man, she said, and would take good care of her. Bowing to parental pressure, Brenda consented. They were married a year after graduation.
As time went on, however, she realized her mistake. Artie went from witty to sarcastic to downright insulting toward her and to anyone within earshot. He thought himself a tonic, but to Brenda he was a pill, and a bitter one at that. They had no friends, virtually no social life to speak of. Her violin proved to be better company after all. If she could go back in time, she'd dump Artie and join the Symphony in spite of her mother's insistance. But, the damage was done, and now she played alone, always alone.
She fumbled a few sixteenth-notes in her musings about her life. She sighed and turned back to the first page. Focus, she told herself. Don't get distracted. Concentrate.
She took up her bow and began again, checking the clock. If Artie didn't stop at a bar, he would be home in about an hour. She had to stop practice before he arrived to avoid a scene, or at least his insults about her playing. If you'd work more on the house and less on that damn violin, this place woudn't be such a pigsty! Why waste your time practicing? It's not like you have that much talent, anyway!
She shut Artie out of her head and kept practicing. Her violin was all she had now. She was talented! She would show Artie that she still had worth as an artist and a human being. Her music was her freedom, her very reason for living, and no one, not even Artie Creed, was going to take it away from her.
A week and a half had gone by since Dimitra took on the challenge of caring for Mr. Webber's foster children. With the help of God and her family, as well as the children themselves, they had made tremendous progress. A large room next to the dormitory was emptied and scrubbed out to create a separate dorm for the girls, who were all too happy to have a place away from the "icky" boys, who themselves were relieved to be free of the "icky" girls.
St. Vincent de Paul donated fresh bedding for the children, even a small one for Kira. Kira was all over her new "big girl' bed like a playful puppy, scrambling, hopping and diving under the fresh blankets. The ragged clothes were discarded, and they all had "new" shoes that didn't pinch their growing feet. There were even winter coats for them.
The bathroom had been sanitized for the first time in months, it seemed. Now the children could bathe without fear of cross-contamination. The older children had no qualms about regular bathing, but the younger ones needed a little more persuading. The two youngest boys had a screaming aversion to soap, and Dimitra had a battle royal to get them into the tub. Having raised three boys of her own, she had plenty of experience to draw upon.
Heather was her aide-de-camp with the younger children. Dimitra didn't know how she could have functioned without her. She was like a second mother to them despite her tender years. Tall for her age, she was practically an adult, yet there was so much she did not know concerning her changing body. It was all Dimitra could do to calm her down when she got her first menses, carefully explaining to her about the process taking place inside her, and congratulating her on becoming a woman. She made sure Heather had all the necessary supplies for this time of the month.
Roland was still a child in many ways. Playing basketball, he was poetry in motion, but when it came to performing basic chores, or even coming down the stairs, he was awkward and stumbling, tripping over his growing feet, almost a man's size. He was always hungry; Dimitra had to constantly remind him that the others had to eat too, and not be so greedy. But her could not help it. No matter how much he ate, his stomach always demanded more.
Buddy, Buck and Jamal were thick as thieves, always plotting some sort of mischief. Little Chris tried to tag along, but was always told that he was "too little". Aaron and Austin, the two brothers, were practically joined at the hip, they were so close. Derek was the ray of sunshine in the house. His smile could brighten a room in a blackout. Brandy was helpful enough, more out of fear of punishment than anything. When Dimitra was moving the girl's things into their new room, she found some bits of food and some coins among Brandy's things. She discovered that Brandy's mother had been convicted of shoplifitng and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In other words, she practically taught Brandy to steal. Dimitra made a mental note to keep an eye on her, and to lock up her purse when she was here.
China was still a hard sell. Angry, withdrawn, she scowled at Dimitra whenever she crossed her path. She trusted no one, not even Heather. Dimitra looked beyond the hardness of China's eyes and saw the pain of an abandoned child in them. She would have to make a special effort to reach out to her. It would take time, but with God's help, Dimitra knew she would win China over.
Tanvi was a dark beauty. She had lost her family in a house fire, rescued by a fire fighter. She used words which made no sense to Dimitra, as if she spoke another language altogether. Her hair was a jet black and her teeth were a dentist's dream, so straight and white they were. It was a joy to see her smile.
Kira, only four, was still a baby in many ways. She had recieved little in the way of toilet training, and was so affection-starved she clung to Dimitra like a monkey. Dimitra had to pry her away so she could get some work done. And Baby Mia, the youngest, was in the worst shape of all. Burned, maimed, and missing her left hand, she just sat there, staring with those big brown eyes. She was not responsive to any type of stimulation. Dimitra wondered if Mia was brain-damaged as well. So much suffering for one tiny baby, she thought. She did not even try to talk. She put whatever was given her into her mouth, regardless of what it was. Every time Dimitra looked at her, she kept thinking of Christopher back in the hospital, his neck and face burned, though not as severely, his eyes bound in gauze, blinded by the blast of the Vegas Bomber's pipe bomb.
No, she told herself. She was here to forget all that. Christopher fully recoverd, God be praised, and now these children needed to recover from the traumas of their own lives. She would see to that. And they would heal her as well from her own trauma.
This story makes me smile :)
Hundreds gathered in the desert valley where, less than four months before, Criss Angel was about to perform a motorcycle demonstration when the Vegas Bomber struck, almost killing him. The Loyals among the crowd spoke of their shock and grief of that day, pointing to where they stood and what they saw. Many shed tears as they related their stories, their emotions welling up as fresh as the day of the attack. Others vented their outrage at the Bomber, damning him to the lowest, foulest depths of Hell. Yet there were those who had moved on, who had given themselves closure, looking forward, not backward. They were here to see Criss Angel perform his demonstration, not repeat history. To these confident souls, a lot of water had gone under the bridge since then.
Criss himself felt the same way, as he prepared mind, body and spirit for this latest stunt. He had a lot more to overcome than his beloved Loyals, as this affected him more personally. Once bitten, twice shy did not apply to him. Yet there was a lingering sense of foreboding, a residual fear still clinging to the darkest corner of his soul. It was for this reason that he wanted to do this demonstration. Indeed, had to do it, to lay the demon of the past to rest once and for all. Not only did he have to overcome whatever fears he still had since the attack for his own sake, but for the sake of the Loyals as well. A man had to look at himself in the mirror, and he had to look at the Loyals as well. If he didn't do this, he thought, he would lose whatever respect the Loyals had for him, and what he had for himself. Once completed, the ghost of the Vegas Bomber would be exorcised once and for all.
The signal came that all was ready. Criss knelt down for a final prayer. He always prayed silently, as he believed that whatever was between man and God was personal, and being in the public eye so much, very little in his life was kept personal. He quickly blessed himself, rose and strode to his motorcycle (a different one, as the first was demolished beyond repair). He mounted it, kicked the starter, and rode to greet the cheering crowd. The Angel was back! Nothing could stop him now!
Meanwhile, back in New York, Dimitra treated her young charges to a trip to a local playground. It was a warm, sunny day in mid-June, and they needed to get away from that stifiling old house. It would be a great opportunity for them to meet others their age, as well as get some fresh air and exercise.
She herded the children to the playground, admonishing them to stay together and not wander off; she didn't want to lose any of them. It was a short walk, but children being what they are, there was always the danger of one or two going astray, running into oncoming traffic in the street, or just turning up missing somehow. Mercifully, they all arrived safely, every one present and accounted for. Once on the playground, they all cut loose, screaming for joy and stampeding for the swings, slides and jungle gyms. Even little China showed some enthusiasm, brushing off the chip on her shoulder long enough to climb a wooden platform and slide down a yellow plastic spiral tunnel.
Dimitra sat down, relieved of her burden. Even with help, tending to the needs of fourteen children was exhausting, especially at her age. She had spent almost a thousand dollars of her own money on top of the monthy stipend given to her by Mr. Webber and the four thousand given to her by her son, Christopher. The other day she had gone into Mr. Webber's office and demanded why things had gotten so bad for the children. He explained to her that the last volunteer had let things slide and even physically abused them. He threw her out on her ear, of course, and it was a mercy Dimitra had shown up. He promised he would reimburse her for her expenses, and was deeply grateful she had gone above and beyond the call of duty for these kids. He only wished he could hire her full time, but finances being what they are and all...
Dimitra was glad to help, she had said. The care for all those children had been a great boon to her as well. She found herself telling Mr. Webber about her kidnapping ordeal, and of her escape. She even told him about her son, Christopher, being a victim as well while performing as Criss Angel, and his generous donation of four thousand dollars for the children.
Mr. Webber's eyebrows rose to his sweaty forehead. "Your son is Criss Angel, the magician?" he asked incredulously.
"Yes, he is," Dimitra smiled proudly. "But to me, he is my Christopher, my little boy." She gave a little laugh when she said that.
Mr. Webber humphed, impressed. "Very interesting," he mumbled.
Now, here she sat on the playground bench, watching her charges run and play with children who were fortunate to have families of their own. Roland was going one-on-one with another youth at the basketball court some yards away. Heather allowed herself to swing on the swings, relieving herself of her self-imposed adult responsibilites for the first time. The others had scattered like chickens, now on the swings, now on the slide, now climbing the jungle gym, and back again. Baby Mia sat in her carrier beside Dimitra, staring dully into space, oblivious to the action.
As she oversaw the children at their play, she noticed Tanvi approaching a Muslim woman, covered head to toe in a blue hijab and chador. "Mama?" Tanvi said to the strange woman.
Dimitra rose and trotted over to Tanvi, pulling her back. "No, dear, she's not your mama," she explained as gently as she could to the little girl. She turned to the woman in the hijab. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "She didn't mean it. She is a foster child in my care."
"I see," the Muslim woman said as she studied Tanvi carefully. "Where is her mother, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Her whole family was killed in a house fire." Dimitra explained. "She is the only survivor."
Tanvi said something incomprehensible to Dimitra, but for the Muslim woman, it spoke volumes. "Do you know this child speaks Arabic?" she asked.
"I wondered what she was saying," Dimitra replied, surprised at this revelation. Then a thought struck her. "Do you think you could help? The foster home where she lives is crowded with thirteen other children, and it is a struggle to keep them fed and cared for. If you can find her relatives, or someone who would be willing to take her in, it would be a great relief to all of us."
The Muslim woman thought for a minute. "I can contact Islamic Social Services, and see what they can do," she suggested. "I am sure they can find a way to help this child, God willing."
"Oh, thank you!" Dimitra was grateful beyond words for this woman's help. "Thank you so much, uh..."
"Musavi. Nurieh Musavi. And over there is my husband, Mahmood." She pointed to a bearded man in more conventional clothes approaching. Mrs. Musavi rose and explained everything to her husband in Arabic. His face expressed interest, then concern, then assent with a nod of his head. Mrs. Musavi turned back to Dimitra. "We will contact ISS and the Imam of our mosque," she told her. "God willing, we will be able to help this child find a proper home."
"May God bless you all!" Dimitra clasped her hands in delight and gratitiude. "If I can help at least one of these poor children, I am glad to do so."
"And may God bless you, Mrs..."
"Sarantakos. Dimitra Sarantakos."
"Ah! Greek, are you?" Mahmood Musavi smiled. "Lovely country, Greece. So rich and full of history."
"Why, thank you, Mr. Musavi." Dimitra was flattered. Such a wonderful man! Such wonderful people to reach out to help a homeless child! And to think there were those who thought Muslims were all terrorists! She prudently kept that thought to herself. She did not want to offend the Musavis in any way, not when they offered to help Tanvi. She gave them the address of the foster home and the phone number where she could be reached. They bowed and left with their two sons who had been at the playground as well. She wished them luck and hoped for the best.
Dear Lord, she prayed, thank You for this encounter with the Musavis. Give them success in finding a family for little Tanvi. May the children You placed in my care all find loving, caring families of their own. Amen.
The preparations for George and Angela's wedding were in full swing. Molina, George's mother, had flown in from New York early to help out any way she could. It was sad that Angela had no family of her own, she had said, save for that sister of hers in prison. George had told her about Bianca--such a selfish, greedy woman to do such things to her own sister, just to get her money! Molina was glad Bianca was behind bars. Such a woman would ruin everything.
Angela, on the other hand, was as good as her name, a perfect angel of a girl who taught school and helped the homeless. Molina had liked her from the moment she met her, last October at dinner before the big charity auction (4). She was so shy and sweet. She would be a welcome addition to the Strumpolis family.
Molina rode in a cab to the Luxor to meet George and Angela from the airport. She so looked forward to the wedding. It was going to be beautiful. She wished it had been in New York, but since George worked for his cousin, Christopher, or Criss, as he wanted to be known, and Angela taught school here, it had to be held in Las Vegas. She had put her foot down when it came to the location of the wedding. No outrageous Vegas style weddings for her family, with Elvis impersonators officiating, or such nonsense like that! She had made her position quite clear: "You were born in the Church, you will marry in the Church, you will die in the Church," she had insisted. Case closed. George had simply smiled sheepishly; Christopher muttered something about two down and one to go.
The reception could be anywhere they wanted, however; she was more flexible about that. Criss offered the Grand Ballroom at the Luxor--expensive, but convenient. No long distance traveling required, and she knew where it was.
The cab pulled up to the Luxor main entrance. George was there, waiting. Angela was missing, this being her day at the shelter. George came up and gave his mom a big hug as the cab driver pulled out Molina's luggage. "How ya doin', Ma?" George greeted her jovially.
"Oh, I am so happy to be here!" she gushed. "Where is Angela? I want to see my daughter-in-law!"
"She's at the shelter today," George answered. "Say! How'd you like to come with me when I pick her up? You can see the shelter for yourself."
Molina had heard about Sanctuary secondhand, knowing her famous nephew had sold his cars to raise money for it, God bless him, but she had never seen it. "All right! I would love to!" she answered.
"Great! Then we can all go out for dinner." George escorted his mother into the hotel, with an attendant wheeling her bags on a brass luggage cart behind them. Molina checked into her room at the desk and made her way toward the elevators. It had been a long trip, and she was tired. She wanted to rest a bit before going to the shelter.
"How's Aunt Dimitra?" George asked. "Criss says she's doing volunteer work with orphans or something."
"That's right, she is," Molina confirmed. "She works at this foster home with fourteen children in it. It was so filthy she had to call me, Popi and Costa for help." She shook her head at the memory of the sordid conditions of that house. "It would disgust you to have seen it. I can't even begin to describe it, it was so horrible."
"Well, I'm sure Aunt Dima's got it under control by now." George nodded confidently. "Those kids got a great person to care for them."
"And she spent a near fortune out of her own pocket to feed them and clothe them," Molina continued. "She says the state gives her only sixteen hundred a month for all of their needs."
"Sixteen hundred a month for fourteen kids?" George echoed as he tried to do the math. That amounted to about one hundred and fourteen dollars per kid per month. No way. You couldn't take care of a dog on that kind of income these days. Somthing was defianatly wrong with this picture.
"You think Aunt Dima will make it to the wedding?" George asked.
"Of course she will!" Molina assured him. "She would not miss it for the world."
"Please, Mr. Webber," Dimitra pleaded. "This is my nephew's wedding. I need time off to attend it. It's all the way in Las Vegas, and I need time to get there. I promised I would be there, and I haven't seen my sons in months."
"And who is going to take care of the children?" Mr. Webber wanted to know. "I need you here, Dimitra. The children need you here."
"I don't know." Dimitra searched her brain for an answer. "I'll find someone to cover for me. I promise."
"You'd better," Mr. Webber said. "You just can't take off and leave these kids unattended."
"I would never do that," Dimitra protested. "I love those children, and would never do anything to harm them."
"All right, if you can find a substitute, I'll let you go to the wedding." Mr. Webber conceded.
"Thank you, sir! I won't be long, just for a few days."
"Fine," Mr. Webber muttered absently. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."
Dimitra left the office, careful not to trip over anything on the floor in the cluttered office. She had to find a substitute, and fast. Maybe some of the nuns at the church could help? It was worth a try. One thing was for sure. She was not going to miss George's wedding for anything, not for anything! But she could not leave these children unsupervised. It was as she told Mr. Webber: she loved them and would not harm them for anything. She would only be gone a few days.
But a lot could happen in those few days--a fire, an illness, anything. She could be held for neglect if anything happened while she was gone. No. She would find someone responsible enough to cover for her. She had her own family to think of as well. Besides, she missed her own children. She was a mother first, even if her own sons were grown up men, she still felt maternal instincts for them. Anyway, a little time off from her duties would be refreshing. She'd worked so hard these past few weeks and was tired. She needed a break.
She called the convent when she got home. To her joy and relief, the Reverend Mother agreed to send a couple of sisters to tend to the children while she was gone. Now she could go to the wedding with a clear conscience. Everything would work out fine. There was nothing to worry about. For the first time in weeks, Dimitra relaxed, confident that there would be no trouble.
(4) See "The Cave of Sorrow".
|All times are GMT. The time now is 11:11 PM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2013, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.