“Hey mom,” I said as I went into the kitchen. In one swift, graceful motion I grabbed an orange from the basket as I slid towards the screen door.
“Mark! Oh thank God, I need someone to watch over the kids outside.”
I slipped and fell to the ground with a thud. Ow.
“Kids?” I asked, rubbing my head.
“Yes dear, Aunt Miranda’s babysitting troupe. She had a doctor’s appointment and arranged to leave them here for a while.”
I could hear faint screams and squeals.
“They’re in the yard?” I asked.
“Alone?” I nearly jumped out of my shoes.
“No dear, especially not with that mess your dad left in the back. I keep telling him to clean it up…”
“So where are you going?”
“Oh nowhere, I just have to keep an eye on the bread. Mrs. Oklahoma is sick and I wanted to send her something. Aaron is out there now but you know he’s not very good with kids.”
“Ho!’ I said. The presence of Aaron had come to be very appealing to me. I dashed outside. Aaron was standing in the distance, whistling, with children running around him in circles. When he saw me he raised his eyebrows and smiled.
“Mark,” he said.
“Aaron,” I answered. “Nice to see you again, really. Since when are you not good with children?”
Aaron smiled and his cheeks went slightly red.
“Well…that’s not to say they don’t like me. I think they’re quite fond of me, actually. But in matters of feeding, diapers and such, well…”
“well, you’re a big baby yourself.” I finished. Aaron rolled his eyes.
“Have you discovered anything while I was away?” he asked.
“I’m not the one to be asked. How goes the search in Moose Jaw?”
“Looks like a false lead, to be honest. I’m trying to look at it from a different perspective.” He said, thoughtfully. “We might have gone after the wrong noun.” I looked at him with incredulity as Jamie came running towards us, crying.
Aaron picked her up and spun her around. She tried to keep crying but resigned to a smile. After a while the little girl threw her head back and laughed heartily. I thought about what he had said. The wrong noun? Person, place, or thing, I thought as I turned to look at the stuff my dad had piled by the fence. There were two logs there, goodness knew what for. I remember we had some when I was younger. Joni and I had made totem poles out of them. And gotten into some real trouble.
And then something hit me.
“Sitting Bull,” I said, watching the flying little kid. Aaron stopped and turned to look at me.
“Sitting Bull?” he asked.
“Well, Sitting Bull could be related to Moose Jaw…”
“A-gaaan! A-gaaan!” the girl screamed, clapping Aaron’s shoulders.
“Ah!” Aaron said, as in something had dawned upon his puny brain. And then: “AHH!”
As in the little girl had just pulled his ears.
“Agaan.” She declared.