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: later Season 2 maybe?
Rating – general
Author - Charlie
Title: Spring Cleaning (Thanks to Cheryl for the idea.)
Amanda hummed a little tune under her breath as she carried the laundry basket to the clothes line. The whole family was in the middle of spring cleaning week, each with their own list of tasks to be done. Today she was in charge of the curtains. She had stripped the window treatments from all of the rooms, washed them and was now preparing to hang the damp material up to dry.
Her mother was cleaning the downstairs windows and would then move on to dusting, while the boys were in charge of sweeping the floors and beating the rugs. If they got their jobs done in time, the whole family was going out for a relaxing dinner and a movie. Tomorrow, there would be walls to wash, closets to be gone through, upstairs windows to wash and, of course, the dreaded bathroom scrub down. Both boys refused to go near a toilet bowl brush and Dotty's back always seemed to act up when it was time to scrub the tub and tiles...Amanda sighed. That job, of course, would be hers again this year.
However, that was tomorrow's worry. Today everything was running smoothly. As she hung up the curtains, she could catch glimpses of the rest of the family working away inside the house. Her mother was finishing polishing the windows and the boys were gathering up the mats. Amanda waved at them and smiled. It was nice when everyone worked together.
Amanda jumped and cautiously looked around. That sound could only mean one thing: Lee was lurking somewhere. Trying not to draw the attention of her family, she casually looked around and noticed the toe of a brown shoe peeking out from behind the cedars. She worked her way down the laundry line, fluffing the curtains and re-pinning the corners until she was near his hiding place.
"Lee, what are you doing here? It's broad daylight! My mother and the boys are just a few feet away."
"Believe me, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't an emergency. Remember three days ago, when we were being 'tourists' near the Reflecting pool?"
"How could I forget? We walked around there for almost two hours waiting for your contact to drop off some microfilm before deciding he was a no show."
"Yeah. Well, it turns out he did show up and somehow we missed it."
"Missed it? But no one approached us."
Lee rubbed the back of his neck. "You know when you stopped because you had a pebble in your shoe and you held my arm to keep your balance while you shook it out?" Amanda nodded. "Well, I just found out that while we were doing that, he walked by and dropped the microdot in your purse instead of giving it to me."
"Now why would he do something like that?"
"I don't know. The message got mixed up somehow. Francine was supposed to be with me, so maybe he thought you were her. It doesn't really matter. What's important is that now we know he did make contact and you have the microdot. Can you go get it out of your purse and bring it to me?"
"Sure, just one problem. What does it look like?"
"Oh. It's inside a package of gum."
"A package of gum. Okay, I'll be right back. Wait here." Amanda scurried inside, grabbed her purse, dumped the contents on the kitchen table and began rifling through the odd collection of items, looking for some gum.
Dotty wandered by. "Amanda, I thought you were hanging the curtains up to dry?"
"I was Mother. I'm just taking a break and looking for some gum."
"Oh. Well, I'm going to have a cup of tea. Do you want some?" Dotty busied herself at the counter while Amanda continued to search. The package of gum wasn't there. She looked again, even shaking her purse upside down.
"Maybe I'll have some tea later, thanks. Mother, did you take some gum out of my purse?"
"Boys! Did you take some gum out of my purse?" She called into the other room unsure if she was hoping for a positive or negative answer.
Frowning, she wondered where the gum could have gone. Mentally, she began to retrace her steps that day. She'd come home, hung up her coat, put her purse by the door...No. She hadn't put her purse in its usual location. The boys had been fighting and she'd gone into the family room to stop them. Her purse had been sitting on the coffee table and Jamie had knocked it over...Ah-hah! The gum must have fallen out and been kicked under the furniture.
Hurrying into the other room, she saw that the boys had the vacuum cleaner out. "What are you doing, fellas?"
"We decided to vacuum today instead of sweeping. It's more fun." Phillip explained while plugging in the cord.
"Yeah, we'll sweep tomorrow." Jamie explained as he directed the hose towards the sofa.
"That's fine. As long as the job get done. Don't mind me, I'm just looking for the gum I lost." Amanda got down on her hands and knees to look under the furniture for the missing microdot. Jamie turned on the vacuum and began to clean the cushions while Phillip checked the cracks in the sofa for any lost items.
At first Amanda didn't see anything. It was dark and a bit dusty under the arm chair. She felt around with her hand but aside from a toy car and a piece of Lego, there was nothing there. Suddenly the strangest sensation occurred. Something grabbed at her rear and she sat up quickly, banging her shoulder on the coffee table.
Jamie looked sheepishly at her and shouted over the sound of the vacuum. "Sorry Mom, the vacuum was trying to suck up your pants." He pulled the nozzle away. "You need to move over a bit so I can I vacuum there."
"Oh. Okay." Amanda shuffled over a bit, while hoping she didn't have the equivalent of a hickey on her derriere. She began to check under the recliner--still no gum. She crawled over towards the sofa leaving the way clear for Jamie who proceeded to vacuum the backrest, sides and arms of the chair.
Lying almost flat, Amanda searched for the gum containing the microdot, feeling around with her hand and peering at the far corners. Just as she was going to give up, she spied the package tucked near the sofa leg. Smiling in relief, she grabbed the gum and wiggled backward from the awkward position she'd been in. Bracing one hand on the coffee table and the other on the arm of the sofa, she began to push herself to her feet.
"Did you find your gum?" Phillip spoke loudly in order to be heard over the vacuum.
"Yep. I have it right here."
"Can I have a piece?" Jamie turned quickly, still wielding the vacuum hose. The hose hit Amanda's hand and sucked the package right out of her finger tips.
"Oops!" Jamie stared in obvious disbelief at his mother's empty hand.
"Jamie! You sucked up my gum!"
"Sorry, Mom." Jamie reached over and turned off the vacuum.
Closing her eyes, Amanda tried to remain calm. 'He hadn't meant to do it,' she reminded herself. 'He didn't know how important it was.' Opening her eyes, she looked at his downcast expression. "It's alright Jamie. It's just that I...I really wanted that piece of gum."
"I'll give you some of my allowance so you can buy a new package," he offered contritely.
"No. I'll just take the vacuum outside and empty the bag. Maybe the gum is still wrapped up." Amanda unplugged the vacuum and carried the canister out of the room. The boys watched her with bewildered expressions on their face. As she left, she overheard Phillip commenting to his brother.
"She's going to eat gum that's been in the vacuum?"
"Yeah and then she gets mad at us for forgetting to wash our hands."
"Adults are weird."
Carrying the vacuum canister through the kitchen, Amanda felt her mother staring at her.
"Amanda, darling. Is there something you want to tell me? I mean you suddenly have this strange craving for gum which you hardly ever chew. You know, the last time you had cravings was when you were expecting Jamie." Dotty took a sip of her tea and gave her daughter an inquiring look.
"Mo-ther! I can't believe you'd even think..." Amanda stared speechlessly at her parent for a moment then just shook her head and went into the back yard. Opening the canister, she unhooked the dust bag and walked over to Lee's hiding place.
"Lee? Lee? I have the gum."
There was faint rustling from the bushes and then he emerged. "Good. Where is it?"
She held out the dust bag. "In here."
He took the bag and peered inside. "Amanda, this thing is full of dust."
"I know. I'm sorry." She explained the sequence of events that had occurred.
Lee just stared at her blankly. When she was finished, he was silent for a moment then queried, "Amanda who do the boys take after?"
"The boys?" She was puzzled by the sudden change of topic. "Well, Phillip is more like his dad but Jamie tends to favour my side of the family."
"Hmm... Somehow that doesn't surprise me." Lee stared at the bag of dust for a moment longer, then disappeared into the bushes.
"I wonder what he meant by that?" Amanda puzzled as she carried the vacuum back inside.