“What, what?” Violet said, annoyed as she could be and looking around for the person interrupting her work. Didn’t everybody around here know the hanging basket Poinsettia displays needed extra attention at this crucial moment in their development?
“What is it, Julie?” she said, trying and failing to keep her irritation to a minimum.
“Just thought you might want to know your ass is ringing,” Julie relied.
“Excuse me?” Violet said, then she heard it. Her cell phone was ringing in her back pocket. “Oh! It might be Garret needing me.”
“Don’t think so, as he’s right there behind that display.”
Sure enough, Garret, clippers in hand and eyeglasses perched on the edge of his thin nose, poked his head out from behind the huge pyramid of Christmas Cactii and said, “Someone call me?”
“No, Garret, sorry to bother you. Go on with your work. I’ll be quick and help you in a bit,” Violet said, hurriedly grabbing the cell and putting it to her ear. “Hello?”
“Uh…Mr. Kramer?” she said, covering her other ear in order to hear over the noise of drills and hydraulic hammering. “Is everything all right?”
“Well, that’s just it. It’s not,” he replied, matter-of-factly.
“Oh, no, is it Marty? Is it her heart?” Violet asked.
“Why does everybody go there first?” he countered in his usual cantankerous manner. “Why can’t it be me and my heart? Don’t ya know I got one too?”
Violet giggled. “Of course, we know you have a heart, Tin-man, but yours hasn’t had an attack recently, now has it?”
“Yeah, well, that might change soon if I don’t get me some loving or at least some golfing in,” he grumbled.
“I’m sorry, what?” she said, moving further away from the noise.
“Well, I just wanted to ask you if you’d like to come fly with me?”
“Um…what do you mean, fly with you?”
“Well, your young man told me you had to visit your daughter in Florida and I have a perfectly fine plane which can get you there in comfort without getting some horny TSA worker getting his slimy hands all over your adorable self.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. You want to take me to Florida in your plane?”
“What’s not to understand?” he said. “Yes!”
“Well, why not? I just don't like going alone, is all.”
“I…well, I was just going to go buy some tickets soon and…”
“Soon???” he shouted. “Missy, if you don’t already have a ticket you ain’t goin’ nowhere! It's Thanksgiving! Now you gotta come with me. I have friends in Fort Lauderdale and your young man said something about Miami, right?”
“No, but! You’re coming with me. Now I won't be staying but a day or two, but I’ll send the plane to fetch ya whenever you wanna come back. Just give me a date and time. I’ll send a car to getcha two days from now, nine AM sharp!”
“But, Mr. Kram…er.” She glared at the cell which had gone dead and muttered, “What has Victor been up to now? I'm sure this is his doing.”
As if invoking the devil’s name conjured him up, the cell rang again, but it wasn’t Victor.
“Um…hello?” she said.
“Didn’t I expressly say I needed to see you in two weeks after your last visit, Violet?”
“Uh…is this Dr. Gifford?”
“You bet your cute patootie it is!” he said.
“Dr. Gifford, I’m sure you said I was to see you in a month and that’s not until the week after Thanksgiving, isn’t it?”
“No, no, you got it all wrong. It’s two weeks and you’re late. Knew I couldn’t trust you to come on your own.”
“But why so soon?”
“I need to see how the meds have been affecting you, any side effects and such.”
“Well, I don’t think so. I’ve been fine,” she said.
“Oh, and your medical degree from what school tells you that?”
She rolled her eyes. “Did Victor put you up to this?”
“You know perfectly well who! Victor, my…meddling friend."
“Of course not. What does he have to do with my patients?”
“He was the one that dragged me into your office to see you, remember?"
:And good thing he did! You were not well!"
"Oh, all right, but regardless, I have no time to set up an appointment with you. I’m leaving to visit Sophie in a couple of days and I’m very busy at work getting ready for…”
“I don’t rightly care if you’re getting ready for doomsday. You’re coming in to see me tomorrow. Got me?”
“Tomorrow...I can’t! I have too much work.”
“Then how about tonight? I’ll stay late—I’m sure dinner will wait for me-- and you can stop by and we’ll do this.”
“I won’t be done here until nine or ten o’clock, if I’m lucky,” she said, frantically waving at the man who was stringing lights onto a palm tree in the tropical garden room and very nearly knocked over the grapefruit tree planter into the pond in the process—the idiot!
“Oh, I’ll be sleeping by then. Are you going to make me do a home visit? I don’t like doing house calls, but if I have to…”
“No! You don’t have to.”
“In the morning then, before you go to work,” he insisted.
“Dr. Gifford, I leave for work at seven in the morning,” she whined.
“Good. I’ll be done with my fishing by then. See you at six thirty sharp!”
She opened her mouth to reply, but the blip told her he was gone. “What in blazes…I’ll bet anything this is all Victor’s doing. I’ll get him…”
But before she could find Victor on her phone it rang again.
“Oh, good Lord…Hello?” she said, completely exasperated now.
“Miss Violet?” a tiny voice spoke in her ear.
“Y…yes?” she said, frantically trying to recognize the voice. She looked down at the number and knew it as coming from the orphanage. “Who is this?”
“Oh! Hello, Julian,” she said a worried crease between her brows. “Are you all right, Honey? You’ve never called me before and I’m at work.”
“Oh…I was hoping Victor was with you.”
“Um…no, he isn’t. I don’t know where he is.”
“Oh, okay,” he said sounding dejected.
“Are you okay, Julian?”
“No, I’m sad.”
“Cuz…cuz I don’t think Victor loves us no more. He doesn’t want to adopt me and Peter and Georgie no more.”
“Oh, Julian, of course he does. Why would you think that?”
“Cuz he only takes the others out anymore, never me and Peter and Georgie.”
“Has he, really?”
“Uh-huh, last Friday he took Sally and then Saturday he took out Maria and Carmencita and Lucia and Joaquin and then Sunday Jeff and Timmy and then…”
“Oh, I see,” she said. “I think he’s just trying to show he still cares about all the kids, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to adopt you. I know he loves you and your brother and sister very much.”
“Yes, I do,” she said. “Now I don’t want you to worry about it, okay? You’re going to have a nice time for Thanksgiving, right? You’ll meet Simon and Ronnie. They’ll be your big brothers soon. That ought to be loads of fun.”
“Yeah. Are you gonna be there?”
“Oh…sorry, no. I’m going to visit my daughter. She’s singing at Disney world and she wants me to see her there.”
“Oh, that’s fun too.”
Violet laughed. “Well, I hope so. I’ve never been to Florida, so we’ll see.”
“I’d like to go. Violet, why dontcha marry Victor? Then we can all go to Disney together.”
Violet’s heart skipped a beat. “Listen, Julian, I have to get back to work, okay honey? I’ll see you after I get back home. Be a good boy and send my love to the others, all the others. Bye!”
She hung up before she got a reply. She suddenly couldn’t wait to get out of town.
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