Thursday, May 23, 2019
Seven Skinny Cows: Brittany Duckworth
Gladys called Kate a little before midnight. Mrs Duckworth was frantic with worry.
Kate got the details. Cameron and Carson had gone out shortly after dark and had not made it back.
Mrs Duckworth put the two other children to bed and waited up.
Mrs Duckworth apologized as Kate and Rick were ushered into the Duckworth living room. “I always get like this when I am pregnant.” Mrs Duckworth said. “I am a worrier by nature and the closer I get to my due date the worse I get.”
She was due in a month and it was very apparent that she was “in the family way.”
Kate had not seen her for several months and her being pregnant was news to her. “Have you seen Nyssa? She is a nurse.” Kate asked.
Mrs Duckworth hung her head. “Carson said we couldn’t afford it.”
Kate silently fumed. Nyssa never charged a fee for a visit. She could not officially diagnose or prescribe, she could only advise. Carson had never asked anybody about fees. He just decided.
Kate would have call Nyssa that very night but the wind was whipping along at twenty miles per hour with gusts to forty and the snow was falling furiously, the way only moist, heavy spring snowfalls can.
“Do you know which way they went?” Rick asked.
“You can’t go out looking for them.” Mrs Duckworth objected. She could hear the wind shrieking in the eves.
“Maybe not, but we can put lights in the windows on that side of the house.” Rick said.
After hearing that Carson and Cameron had disappeared south of the house, Rick went to the upper story and put LED flashlights and candles in the windows looking out over the muck bog.
Rick did not have a very good feeling about Carson and Cameron’s chances. Either they had picked tonight to get-out-of-Dodge or they had gotten tangled up in the bog. Wet clothing, thirty degree temperatures and high winds are quickly lethal. But of course, he would not share his fears with Mrs Duckworth.
When Rick came back downstairs he learned that Mrs Duckworth’s first name was Brittany. He also learned that Cameron was Carson’s child by a previous relationship. That made sense to him. He had never spent any time close to Brittany without Carson getting in his face. Now that he had a little bit of time Rick saw that she was not be much older than twenty-five.
Rick and Kate were up at seven in the morning. It was before sunrise and the storm was abating in fits and starts. They made breakfast for the Duckworth family and found themselves promoted to Uncle Rick and Aunt Kate.
As soon as Rick could see his shoelaces when he was outside, Rick started calling up a search crew.
Six neighbors showed up to help Rick search. The late winter storm had dumped seventeen inches of new snow.
Rick laid out a search pattern that not only covered the ground between the house and the bog, but he added generous wings to either side.
The crew did a quick search with searchers fifty yards apart. If either Carson or Cameron were conscious and in the search area, they should be able to hear the searchers as they hailed each other to stay properly spaced. If they were conscious then they should be able to get the searchers attention.
The searchers pushed as far south as they could. They turned around when their boots started sinking into the bog.
After the first, non-productive search Rick tightened up the search grid and they swept the search area on fifty foot intervals. They were looking for melted snow where living-but-unconscious bodies may have created hot-spots.
That sweep failed as well.
They had done what they could. Rick called Gladys and asked her to put out word to the surrounding communities. Perhaps Carson and Cameron had become disoriented and ended up in North Eaton Rapids or the cluster of houses east of Kates Store.
Frankly, Rick did not have a very good feeling about Carson and Cameron’s chances.
After eating a late lunch Rick and Kate held an impromptu huddle. There was no way Brittany could keep the huge house warm and parent her two, small children without another adult to help.
Rick and Kate did not have fancy. They had something better. They had “enough”, enough to be generous.
Coming back into the Duckworth house which was already starting to become gloomy as the sun slowly lowered itself in the cloud-screened sky, Kate told Brittany, “We want you to stay with us while we continue to look for Carson and Cameron. We will leave a note right here” Kate said while pointing at the door of the refrigerator “so they know where to find you when they come back.”
Brittany “lost it” when she realized that she did not need to be strong, to be the only one looking out for her children.
“I really should be weepy like this.” she said, wiping her eyes. “Its the damned hormones.”
Rick emptied the dresser drawers in the kid’s bedrooms into plastic trashbags. He pressed a couple of the neighbors who were still hanging around into helping him carry the luggage back to Casa Salazar.
Kate, for her part, called Nyssa and told her that Brittany was close to giving birth and would benefit from an exam. Nyssa quickly accessed her midwifing textbooks. It looked like she was going to need to use those skills sooner rather than later.
Nyssa sent Milo on, ahead of her. The Salazar house was undoubtedly cold and Milo could stoke the woodstoves and start to take the chill out of the house. Milo looked through the cold-box and found a pot of beans. He put it on the back of the stove to start warming up.