Summary – Safety first is every mom's motto, especially Amanda's. So when the boys' tree house needs repair well...you can just imagine the trouble that might ensue. Another episode in the Jamie and Amanda series.
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to WB and Shoot the Moon Productions. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only. Please do not redistribute or reproduce this story without my permission.
Timeline: Season 1
Rating – general
"I know sweetheart. It hurts. I'm sorry but I have to clean that cut." Amanda dabbed some more antiseptic on Jamie's arm and then applied a Band-Aid. "There - all fixed!" She gave him a kiss on the forehead and set him down from the counter where he'd been perched while she tended to his injury. "Now where exactly did you cut yourself?"
"I told you. In the tree house. On that thingy."
"Sweety, there are lots of 'thingies' in the tree house. I need to know which one."
"It goes like this." Jamie gestured wildly with his hands in a vaguely horizontal direction.
Amanda frowned. "Do you mean the railing?"
"Yeah...well...I don't know. It's a thingy."
Realizing the conversation was quickly progressing nowhere, she took the boy's hand and led him outside. "How about you show me."
"Okay. Hey—are moms allowed to climb trees?" There a certain bit of suspicion in his voice which made her smile inwardly.
"Moms are allowed to do everything a little boy can do." She assured him in a serious tone.
"Even go in the men's bathroom at the mall?"
"Well... if it was a real emergency, then yes, I suppose so."
"Oh... Well, don't go in when Phillip and me are in there 'cause it'd be too embarrassing."
"I promise you sweetheart, I'll do my best to stay out of the men's washroom at the mall."
A look of relief washed over her son's face and she wondered how the conversation had digressed from broken boards in the tree house to the men's washroom at the mall. Luckily they had arrived at the base of the tree.
"I'll go first Mom and show you how it's done." Jamie confidently led the way up the ladder.
"Thank you, Jamie, that's very kind of you. I haven't climbed into a tree house in a while and I might have forgotten how."
"That's okay, Mom. You can't help being old."
Amanda paused with her foot on the bottom rung. Her son's ability to take a notch out of her self-esteem was just amazing. She shook her head then pushed the unintended slight out of her mind and watched him finish climbing into the tree house. Once he was all the way up, she too ascended the ladder. It had been awhile since she'd been up there and she looked around with interest at the collection of treasures her two sons had amassed in the little hideout.
"It's over here, Mom." Jamie drew his mother's attention away from their stash and over to the source of his injury. It was a piece of railing, just as she had suspected and the board had a bit of a split in it. While it wasn't 'broken into a 'gazillion pieces' like his first tearful report had indicated, it wasn't as sturdy as she'd like it to be. If one of the boys were to lean on it, it could crack under their weight.
"Hmm. It isn't very safe is it, Jamie?"
"Nope – it scratched my arm."
"Yes it did and, if you were to lean on it, it could break and you'd fall. I'm afraid we're going to have to close the tree house until I can get Mr. Miller to nail a new board up here."
"Aww, Mom." Jamie looked crestfallen and Amanda gave him a hug.
"It will only be for a few days. Now you climb down first. Then, we'll take the ladder down and put it in the garage so that you boys or one of your little friends don't forget and come up here before this is fixed."
"All right." Jamie slowly descended from the tree house, clearly not enamoured with the plan but willing to follow her dictates. Amanda knelt, waiting for him to reach the ground. She spent a moment admiring the view of her backyard and the neighbour's as well. She'd forgotten how far you could see from this elevation. Suddenly there was a noise below and she looked down to see Jamie pulling the ladder away from the tree.
"Jamie, wait a minute before you do that!" It was too late. As he pulled on the ladder it started to tip backwards and, in what seemed like slow motion, toppled to the ground. "Jamie, look out!" Fear gripped her heart as she envisioned the ladder landing on him. Fortunately he jumped aside just in time. "Oh sweetheart! Are you all right?"
"Sure, Mom. It didn't even come close!" He sounded rather proud of the near miss. Amanda closed her eyes and took a calming breath. Sometimes she wondered if that boy would make it to adulthood in one piece.
"Are you going to sleep up there, Mom?"
"No, Jamie I'm not going to sleep." She opened her eyes and prayed for patience.
"Then why were your eyes closed?"
"Never mind. Jamie, why did you move the ladder?"
"Well, you said we had to take it down."
"Yes but after I was on the ground."
"Jamie, try to lean the ladder back up against the tree so I can get down from here."
Obediently, he tried to lift the ladder but only managed to raise it a few feet before letting it drop. "It's really heavy, Mom."
"Hmm...I was afraid of that. Okay, go and see if Grandma and Phillip have left yet for the dentist."
Jamie trotted off into the house, yelling for his grandmother but came right back out. "They're already gone. No one's in there."
Amanda bit her lip thinking of her next plan of action. "Okay. I want you to call Mrs. Miller and tell her what happened. Ask her or Mr. Miller to come over and help. Do you remember the phone number?"
"Mo-om. She's Tommy's mother, my best friend! Of course, I know the number." He gave her an exasperated look and went inside to make the call.
Amanda shifted uncomfortably. She was crouched at the entrance to the tree house and her legs were starting to cramp. Sliding into a sitting position, she let her legs dangle over the edge while waiting for Jamie to return with help.
The back door finally opened and he came running out, a big grin on his face. "Mom, guess what? Just as I went inside the phone rang and it was Tommy. He wants to know if I can go to the movies with him. I can go, can't I?"
"Sure, you can. Is Mrs Miller—"
Jamie ran back in the house before she could finish asking about when rescue would arrive. Just moments later he raced back out, the door slamming behind him. "Can I stay for supper, too?"
"Yes, but what about Mrs. Miller?"
"She said it's fine. There's lots 'cause they're having spaghetti! See you, Mom!" He ran out of the backyard, grabbed his bike from the driveway and pedalled away.
Amanda sprang to her feet, calling after her son. "Jamie! Jamie King! You come right back here! What about me?" Her cries went unnoticed as the thrill of an outing with a friend had the boy totally forgetting about his mother's plight.
Sinking back down, she stared desolately at the ladder lying on the ground at the base of the tree. It certainly did seem to be a long way down. She wasn't overly fond of heights—not really scared of them but just cautious. The idea of lowering herself so that she was hanging by her arms and then just letting go briefly crossed her mind but it was more than likely she'd break something upon landing.
Maybe, she thought hopefully, Jamie would remember about her once he arrived at the Miller's and bring them back to get her. She glanced at her watch. It was one fifteen. The movies started at two o'clock so it was likely they'd be leaving by one thirty. She'd wait until after one thirty before she started panicking. If nothing else, her Mother should be back from taking Phillip to the dentist in about an hour...unless they went shopping afterwards.
Seeing no other possible solution but waiting, she began looking around for a means of passing the time. There was a pile of comic books and after leafing through them, she decided to catch up on some of the adventures of Superman. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she hadn't eaten lunch. Hmm...The boys might have something to eat up here. A bit of digging uncovered a package of stale cookies and some bubblegum. The cookies were infested with ants so she dropped the bag over the side to be picked up once she finally got down. Making a mental note to remind the boys that they were not allowed to pilfer whole bags of cookies, she proceeded to examine the bubblegum. It was still wrapped, free of insect life and smelled fresh. Deciding to go for it, she popped a piece in her mouth and started to chew. The sweet taste spread over her tongue and the sugar seemed to immediately invade her system, quelling her stomach's complaints.
Content for the moment, she sat at the edge of the tree house awaiting rescue. She leaned against a tree limb, comic book in hand and began to read, while absentmindedly drawing upon the long unused skills needed to blow bubbles. She let her legs dangle over the edge, swinging them back and forth to keep the circulation moving.
Engrossed in the adventures of Clark Kent, Amanda failed to notice the man skulking across her backyard. He peered into her kitchen and tapped on the glass, waited, then tapped again. A frown marred his face when no one answered his summons. Walking over to the door, he opened it slowly and called out, listening for an answer. When none came he shoved his hands in his pocket, a look of frustration on his face.
He scanned the yard and his eyes lit upon the fallen ladder. Strolling over to its location, he studied it briefly, then took in the open bag of chocolate chip cookies and the trail of crumbs scattered over the ground. Moved his gaze upwards, somehow he was not in the least surprised at the sight before him.
Overhead was a grown woman with her hair in a ponytail, wearing shorts, a T-shirt and white running shoes. She was reading a comic book and blowing pink bubbles while her legs swung rhythmically back and forth.
"A little old for playing in the tree house, aren't you?" He called out.
Amanda gave a cry of surprise and dropped her comic book. "Lee! I'm so glad to see you."
He bent over and picked up the dropped magazine. Studying the title, he raised his eye brows. "Superman comics? Amanda, I didn't realize your taste in literature ran towards the ...er...classics."
The look she gave him would have quelled a lesser man. Lee just grinned, enjoying catching her in yet another predicament. "So... what are you doing up there?"
"Well, it's really simple you see. I was checking one of the boards—there's a crack in it and Jamie scrapped his arm. So once I'd bandaged his arm, we came up here to check the board and I said we needed to close the tree house until it was fixed because of course with a cracked board it isn't as safe as it should be and then Jamie climbed down and took the ladder away but forgot to let me climb down first. The ladder was too heavy for him to lift so I sent him in to call one of the neighbours for help but before he could do that, his little friend called and Jamie, well, he's just a little boy you know, he was so excited about the movies and spaghetti that he went off on his play date and forgot about me. So I was just sitting here waiting and hoping he'd finally remember me and tell Mrs. Miller and then she'd come and rescue me."
Lee stared at her blankly for a moment then gave his head a shake. "So you're telling me you're stuck up there?"
"Right. If you could just lift the ladder and put it back in place, I'll be able to climb down."
"Put the ladder back in place? What will you give me if I do?"
"Lee! That's not funny."
"Maybe not, but I have the upper hand at the moment so... what will you give me?" His eyes glinted with amusement over her situation. He watched her fume for a moment then relented. "Okay, I'll make this easy on you. A plate of your homemade brownies and help with my expense account in exchange for putting the ladder back."
"As much as I hate to give in to blackmail... All right. It's a deal. A plate of brownies for the ladder."
"And help with the expense account?"
"And help with the expense account."
Lee grinned and set the ladder in place then watched as Amanda climbed down. His eyes fixed on her long legs and the cute way her rear end wiggled back and forth with each step down, then he shook his head and looked the other way. 'This was Amanda after all,' he reminded himself.
Once she was on the ground, she smiled in obvious relief but seemed to be spring loaded bouncing up and down. "Thanks Lee. I'll bring the brownies in tomorrow. Umm...why did you stop by?" She asked while moving towards the house.
He followed her, puzzling over her strange, almost hyper movements. "To ask about the expense account. It's almost month's end and I need you to help me."
"Sure. Okay. No problem. I'll get right on it tomorrow." She spoke in short bursts and had a panicky look about her face.
"Amanda, are you all right?" He stepped closer and she backed away, edging closer and closer to the door.
"Yes... (step)... I'm fine.... (step)... Lee... (step).... I'm sorry... (step)... but... (step)...I was up in the tree for ages and I gotta go. I need the bathroom!" Like a flash, Amanda turned yanked open the door and disappeared from sight.