To all my friends, it has been a very bad few months and real life has intruded with a vengence. For the first time since May I am actually writing again and while I was working on 'Morristown' this little piece of fluff jumped into my head and refused to leave before I got it down on paper.
I thank my beta reader, you put up with a lot, sweetie. And I promise that Morristown is almost done and will, hopefully, be ready to go out before the week is over.
Thanks you all for your patience.
Parent Teacher Night
"Karen, what are you eating?" Jim Dunbar reeled from the smell coming from Karen Betancourt's desk.
"Sardines and sweet pickles on pumpernickel bread," Karen shifted her hugely pregnant body awkwardly in her chair, "and pickled eggs and pomegranate juice."
"That isn't a craving; that is a chemical warfare. I'm going to turn you in for crimes against humanity." The jangle of Hank's tags told Jim that the dog was trying to move further away from Karen. "I may even include cruelty to animals."
"No, you love me, don't you Hank," cooed Karen.
"Stay back, Hank, that lady is dangerous," Marty Russo shot out as he ran through the office and grabbed a new set of walkie talkies. "I hope these have a better charge that the last ones." He looked at Dunbar and smirked. "Why isn't the equipment charged when we need it, Sergeant?"
"They would get charged if you remembered to put them back in the charger, Detective." Jim shot back as his phone rang, again. "Talk to the next shift, we aren't the only ones who work here. When the hell is Fisk getting back anyway? Eighth Precinct, Dunbar."
Marty grinned as he watched Dunbar juggle his desk duties while he covered for Lieutenant Fisk, "Karen; that is why I never want special treatment from the higher ups."
"Russo, out! Now!" Jim barked as his hands raced over his keyboard, "Can you repeat that, please; there was some interference on the line."
The door banged open and the call "I'm home," rang through the condo.
"What took you so long?" Christie called from the kitchen.
"First, some gang banger decided to jump in front of my train, just what I need to make the trip home slow down to a crawl. It's raining and I have yet to figure out how to handle Hank, my briefcase and an umbrella at the same time. Then I dropped my keys at the front door."
Christie grabbed a beer from the fridge and went round to find Jim, dripping and exhausted as he was hanging up his coat and Hank's harness. Quickly she patted his cheek and pressed the cold bottle into his hand.
"Bless you," he whispered and pulled his wife into a quick hug.
"Jimmy! Jimmy! Jimmy! Jimmy!" the high pitched squeal of Jaime almost split Dunbar's head in two. "We gotta hurry if we're gonna be there on time."
"Jim, it's parent night at the school tonight; you promised you'd be there."
The dull throbbing behind his eyes that only came with exhaustion began as if on cue, so Jim walked to the sofa, dropped down on it and took a long, hard pull on his beer. He was just about to say no, when he felt the small hands of his ward on his arm.
"Please Jimmy, I made you something special."
"Jaime, I'm really tired. Give me about five minutes." He leaned his head back against the cushions, "I guess Sister Angela is gonna think I smell like a brewery."
Christie slipped beside Jim and gently massaged his neck. "I'm sure you aren't the only beery smelling man there tonight. Don't worry, I'll drive there."
"Ha ha, she made a funny; problem is I'm so tired I forgot to laugh."
The hallway of St. Thomas Moore School was clogged with parents, children, displays and tables set up to allow appointments to be made with the teachers. Jaime had insisted that Hank come along, because he was a member of the family too even if it made things more confusing around the Dunbars.
"This is my class room," Jaime pulled Christie down the hallway, and Jim simply did his best to follow.
"Jaime Janssen, I'm so glad you are here tonight." The sing song voice of the nun welcomed them. "Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar, I can make a few minutes for you right now, if you have the time."
"We would appreciate that, Sister Angela." Christie smiled although she knew Jim was on just about his last nerve. "It's been a very long day, today."
"Well, have a seat," the nun watched as Mrs. Dunbar placed her husband's hand on the back of the chair and how the big dog settled at his feet as the man got himself comfortable. "I am happy to say that Jaime has fit into the class very nicely," she began. "I know he came to live with you under very sad circumstances but you all seem to be blending very well."
"It's been quite an adjustment, but we are trying our best." Christie had her business smile plastered on her face. "Haven't we, Jim."
"Oh, yeah," Jim jumped. He really didn't expect to have much to say here.
"Jaime speaks a lot about you and your dog, Mr. Dunbar." Sister tried to draw the man into the talk. "He seems to think you can do anything you put your mind to."
Was this woman intentionally trying to be insulting? Jim thought. "I do my best," he replied.
"That is all any of us can do and I know that is what Jaime is trying to do here. I believe we will be placing him in some accelerated classes in the new year. He can already read at a first grade level and do basic math. According to my notes he won't be five until March. What we will try to do is keep his social skills at the level on most children his age while letting his academics advance as they will. It is sometimes hard not to treat bright children like little adults but letting children be children is very important. Don't you agree, Mr. Dunbar?"
"Yeah, I want him to be a kid. I had to grow up quick and I want Jaime to avoid that."
"Well, I'm glad we are in agreement." The smile in Sister Angela's voice was light on Jim's ears. "Now I think Jaime is going to burst if he can't show you his projects."
"Come to my desk, come on, I got stuff to show you." Jaime hopped from side to side as the Dunbars rose to join him. He ran to his desk and started to hand papers to Christie. "See, I have a gold star on this paper with my letters on it and a red star on this one with my numbers on it. This," he pushed a round disc at Jim, "is my hand print; not like fingerprints but almost."
Jim ran his fingers over the plaster, "I bet there are fingerprints here, too, if you look really close."
"I got something special for you," Jaime took Jim's hand and put it on a piece of Bristol board on the front of his desk. "I wanted you to know where I sat."
Jim ran his fingers over the stiff paper on the desk. The smooth feel of crayon was the first thing he found. Underneath, however, were buttons glued carefully to the sign. JAIME was spelled out in large, uneven Braille cells.
"Wow, this is really great," Jim pulled the boy close to him and rubbed the top of his head. "I guess you're just about the greatest kid here." Suddenly, Jim wasn't tired anymore.