Brad hated to change the plans that he and Jamie had made for the next day. Some time alone with her sounded good to him. They both loved to go horseback riding and they were going to bring a picnic lunch with them.
Unfortunately, he had reason to believe there was something going on with Barbie. She had seemed different the last couple of times he had seen her and for that matter, so had the ever present Gloria.
Brad had been surprised when after emphatically declining his invitation to spend the night at the ranch so they could celebrate their birthday together with his family, they had shown up. He had sent a car for them, but he expected to get a message from the company he had hired telling him the trip had been cancelled by his sister.
Gloria sat there like a fish out of water the entire evening and was anxious to get on the road the next morning. Barbie, however, had lingered. She had a second cup of coffee and visited with Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen who stepped all over each other explaining how it happened they all ended up living with Brad.
“He’s an amazing person,” Grandma Helen said.
Barbie had no doubt that was true. She felt Tom must be cut from the same cloth. She was so happy she had been able to spend some quality time alone with her two brothers. They had just talked about the recent past in their conversations in Brad’s study, but it was nice to have her family together again. Gloria had been livid that she had not been included in the family meeting. She considered herself to be Barbie’s voice as well as her eyes.
&&& I’m going with Brad and Jamie to visit Barbie and Gloria. I guess he wants to know why I brought her picture to him. At least he’s smart enough to be able to figure things out. He knows that I have seen something that isn’t right and he just can’t figure out what it is. I know one thing. Gloria was glad to have me gone. She won’t jump with joy to have me back…even for a day.
“Thanks for being agreeable to leaving so early, Jamie.” Brad said. “It’s about a four hour drive and depending on what the circumstances are, we could be pretty late coming back as it is.”
“No problem…Why do you think Annie brought you Barbie’s picture, Brad? It could be as simple as she misses her and wants to go back to live with Barbie and Gloria.”
At the sound of Gloria’s name, Annie winced. She was sitting in the back seat of Brad’s truck and when Jamie turned to look to see why she had winced, she had to laugh at what she saw.
“Brad…can you sneak a peek without running off the road?” He adjusted his rear view mirror and looked to see Annie covering her eyes with one paw.
“Do you think that she’s doing that in response to hearing Gloria’s name?” Annie winced again. This time it was louder.
“Drive as fast as the speed limit allows, Brad. This dog knows something about Gloria and it can’t be good.”
“Mommy, can Arf and I go to the river? I promise, I won’t go in. Arf does so much for me and today, I would like to do something for him. He just loves swimming in the river. Can we go, Mommy?”
“It’s such a beautiful day, Katie. Would you mind if I tagged along? We’ll take our swimming suits and go to that shallow area on the other side of the bridge. Swimming will be good exercise for all three of us.”
Katie was thrilled that her mommy was coming along and Arf was over the top when he realized they would be spending the day at the river. They took the picnic lunch that Grandma Helen had fixed for Brad and Jamie. All they had to do was add a good bone for Arf and they were all set.
“I know it isn’t that far, but I think we should drive over there. That way we won’t have to bring the wheelchair,” Dina suggested. “Do you think you can walk down the path to the swimming area? You’ll probably be pretty tired from swimming when you walk back up.”
“I can do it, Mommy.” Katie rolled her eyes. “I’m very strong now. I get stronger when Arf and I dance.”
“Of course you do, honey. Now let’s all walk to the car.”
Where is that good bone they promised me?
“Barbie!”…Gloria was feeling anxious and she had been unable to calm her nerves. “Barbie! are you in the flower garden? She must be…” Gloria surmised. Or maybe she’s not feeling well and she’s lying down. “Barbie! You must answer me!”
Barbie was in the kitchen preparing herself a cup of coffee. She had the faucet on and didn’t hear Gloria at first.
“Gloria” she answered. “I’m in the kitchen.”
Gloria came bursting through the swinging doors. “What are you doing? You should let me do that. I’m afraid you’ll burn yourself.”
“Why are you so upset, Gloria? I’ve managed to learn a few things over the years in spite of my blindness. In fact, I’ve been thinking, and I’ve made a decision you should know about.”
“Go on,” Gloria responded, warily.
“I was so impressed with that little girl and her dog. You know, the little girl whose family lives with Brad. Her dog’s name is Arf. Isn’t that cute?”
It was a good thing Barbie couldn’t see the look on Gloria’s face.
“Anyway,” Barbie went on. “I just turned thirty-six yesterday and for the past twenty years, I have depended on you for everything when there is so much more I could learn to do for myself. Many blind people live alone and are quite able to care for themselves. I intend to reach out and avail myself to the best occupational therapies out there. What do you think, Gloria?”
Gloria was busy thinking, but not anything she wanted to share with Barbie. She decided it was time to put her own plan into action. She would go along with Barbie’s idea, but she would set it all up. The poor girl was in for a huge disappointment.
The doorbell rang and when Gloria answered, she was so surprised, she was unable to keep the look of chagrin from her face. There stood Brad Humbolt, that girl who was with him at the birthday party, and that blasted dog.
Annie ran past Gloria and found Barbie in the kitchen.
&&& I had to make sure Barbie was okay. Gloria is not a good person. I heard her outback talking to a man one day when Barbie was resting. They were whispering, but I could hear them. Dogs have keen senses and mine told me those two might harm Barbie. The man said not to worry. When the time came, he would take care of Barbie. He had his ways, and then Gloria gave him an envelope. He reached inside and took out a bunch of money. I could only watch and listen, but like I said, I sense things.
Gloria told the man Barbie had to be convinced that she couldn’t live without her…Ever!
Link to all of the Arf stories…