“Take care of the child?” Lorna repeated a little bewildered as Blaze finished serving breakfast. She sat down across from him, keeping an eye on the stranger in the house.
“Yeah, they offered this to me instead of jury duty. I said yes.”
“Jisa!” The baby splashed into the applesauce with a huge smile. Before scooping a mouthful with tiny hands. Some of the food managed to make it into his tiny mouth.
Blaze winced at the mess.
“Well, I guess you have some experience with Jasper. But, Blaze, raising a child is a big responsibility.”
“I know mom, but well, he doesn’t have a home. It was either take him in or leave him at the hospital alone. I couldn’t do that, could I?”
His mother didn’t have an answer to that and their conversation turned to his brothers. Skye and Eli were doing well in school and Jasper, his baby brother, was about to enter the 9th grade. Her garden was thriving and she’d just sold her 50th Silly Sally book.
The empty bowl that once held applesauce clattered to the floor and Blaze looked over at the toddler. He was grinning with the success of interrupting the adults. Blaze bit back a laugh.
“Come here, little bean. You’ve gotten all sticky.” He pulled the child out of the chair and headed to the bathroom. “Mom, I’m just gonna wash him up.”
“Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t speak toddler very well,” Blaze grinned at the child squirming in his arms. He might not understand the words, but the child clearly wanted down. However, Blaze had plenty of practice wrangling toddler and it took very little time for him to deposit the apple-sauced soaked child into the tub.
“Vivingi oopla!” the child squealed in delight splashing excitedly in the water. His earlier dream of escape forgotten.
“Blaze honey?” His mom poked her head in the bathroom door, “I’m just going to pop off for a bit, I’ll be back in a minute.” Blaze nodded but kept his attention on the child and finding and cleaning every speck of applesauce off.
Blaze scrubbed the little boy clean, making squeaking noises and zooming around with the sponge much to the delight of his captive audience. “Here comes Freezer Bunny,” he whispered swooping the sponge from behind the curtain and flying it around as the child tried to catch it.
Eventually, slightly damp himself, he pulled the kid out of the tub and dried them both off. He’d heard his mom return a few moments ago and popped into the living room. She was holding a paper bag and smiling.
“I just wanted to get this for you and Leon.” Blaze peaked in the bag, brightly colored toys stared back at him. He recognized some them from his own childhood. “And… and I wanted to let you know how proud I am of you. For doing this.”
“Thanks, mom.” He gave her a big hug.
“I’ve got to run for now. Jasper will be back from school soon, but take care. You and um… what’s his name?”
“Uhhh,” Blaze realized suddenly in all the paperwork he’d received none of it had said the boy’s name. It had all referred to him as 73-ON. “I don’t know.”
“Well, you have to call him something.”
She said her goodbyes and hurried off and Blaze returned inside. Wondering where his little bean sprout was. He found him next to the paper bag of toys, spilled over, and examining some of the bright blocks that Blaze remembered so well.
“Hello, little guy.” Blaze knelt down next to him. “My mom’s right. I have to have a name for you.”
“Ruti,” the child babbled as he carefully stacked the blocks in front of him. “bizoopatogo ruti.” He placed the third block onto the tower and Blaze and he watched it tip and then the tower crashed. “Jotuhoplo ‘aze oo.” He concluded softly and looked up at Blaze. Tears were in his eyes.
“It’s okay, little guy. Towers fall. I know. How about I read you a story? Mom brought some of her books too.”
Blaze spied a familiar cover and plucked it out of the mess of toys. “This was my favorite? Want to hear it?”
Blaze took that as a yes.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Sally. She was very very silly. She liked to get up early in the morning and watch the sun rise.
“Why does the sun rise in the East?” she asked.
“Silly Sally,” her parents said. “Don’t you know the sun rises in the East because it is morning?”
Sally thought about this. “But what if it rose in the West?”
“Then it would be evening of course.
The little guy climbed into the bed and Blaze tucked him in before continuing the story.
“Oh, no!” There was no one in the crib! The baby had escaped! He must have woken up and gotten bored. It would be just awful to lose her baby brother on the very first day. She could hardly call herself the best big sister ever if she didn’t have a brother anymore.
“Where are you going?” Sally stopped as her father came out of the bathroom. He was holding something in his arms.
“Um…outside?” She didn’t want to tell her father she’d already lost her brother. He would think she was a terrible big sister.
“Don’t you want to meet Little Leon?”
“Leon?” Sally asked.
Blaze looked up. The little guy had fallen asleep.
“Leon?” he said softly. And then nodded to himself. “I think I’ll call you little Leon.”
Author’s Note: No cameos today I’m afraid, but I’ve got a whole pile of them coming up! And now you know how Leon got his name! Funny story I actually named him Leon after my friend’s kid who just turned one and because of Leon’s lion sweatshirt (which you will see when we visit the library). I wrote Sally’s story and name her brother after this little alien guy. But, because of the magic of linear time, my little alien number 73 is named after Sally’s brother. Ha! If you want to read the entire Silly Sally story – it’s in Chapter 5 of Drifters House 006.
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