Arf: Clark sure does play beautiful music on that guitar of his and he can really sing, too. Did you hear him sing, Amazing Grace last night?
Annie: Of course I did. I sleep in his room at night, remember? It was really beautiful. I didn’t even have the urge to howl.
Arf: Yeah. It put me right to sleep, but not before I got an idea.
Annie: You must be thinking what I’m thinking. Clark needs some cheering up and Katie needs something to motivate her to keep going with the therapy on her legs.
Arf: Yup the trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to tell humans what we think they need. Got any ideas?
Annie: Remember that day I watched you and Katie do a dance at the nursing home and hospice? The folks just loved it. Maybe we can do a whole show for them. It’ll take some work though. Katie’s legs will have to get stronger. Last time, she was still in the wheelchair.
Arf: And another thing. Clark is afraid to play his guitar in front of people. That probably means he’s afraid to sing in front of other humans, too. We’ve got our work cut out for us don’t we Annie? I’ll probably never be able to hunt frogs again.
Annie: Oh stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’ve had it easy for too long. Let’s meet at the squirrel window after supper tonight. We’ll try to figure out how we’re going to make this work.
Arf: Good…That gives us all day to think.
Dina couldn’t get another appointment with Katie’s therapist until the following week. She knew Steve was pretty unhappy with her because she had gotten involved in taking care of Jamie’s mother and had forgotten about yesterday’s appointment. She should never have agreed to work with Mrs. Langford.
On the other hand, why couldn’t she do both? She just needed to organize her time better. She would talk with Steve about that, today.
Steve was in the kitchen with Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen. He had already eaten breakfast, but he needed some advice, so he decided to have another cup of coffee. He didn’t have to broach the subject. Grandma Helen jumped right in and pretty much nailed his dilemma.
“I heard you say something about wanting to lease Jamie’s farm. Is that something you’re seriously considering?”
“I’ve thought about it,” Steve said. “Between you and me, I don’t see Jamie going back to the farm to live even if her parents don’t stay here.”
“Sounds like you’ve thought it all out. It’s bound to make your life easier, right?”
Steve leaned back in his chair and proceeded to tell Grandma Helen and Miss B all of the plans he had for the little farm. He finished by saying, “And not only that, until the farm starts to be profitable, I’ll still be doing my carpenter jobs. Most of them are in town and the farm is a lot closer. It’s only ten miles from there. This ranch is ten miles on the other side.”
“What about Dina and Katie?” Grandma Helen asked.
“Dina will have a garden and chickens and a cow to milk. She’ll be plenty busy,” he said. “You’re Dina’s mother. I’m counting on you to help convince her to move to the farm with Katie and me. We can start over as a family.”
“Excuse me, Helen, but I can’t listen to this a minute longer without throwing in my two cents. Just how much of these elaborate plans have you shared with Dina? My guess is that you’ve barely mentioned anything about this to her.” Miss Bessie had been wiping off the table and now she had her hands on her hips. Her lips were a thin line and her eyes were snapping.
“As a matter of fact,” Steve said. “I mentioned it to her last night.”
“And what did she say?” Miss B asked.
“She seemed surprised at the thought. She didn’t say anything. I’m hoping we can settle things this morning before I go to work.”,”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” Miss B said. “Now, I’ll get my nose out of your business and make some pancakes.”
Without saying a word, Grandma Helen sat down and took a sip of her coffee. She was glad Miss Bessie had said what she did.
By then it was time for Steve to go to work so he decided to give it until the weekend, which was only a couple of more days, to talk with Dina.
That night Arf and Annie met at the squirrel window and came up with a plan. Now if it only worked.
The next morning after breakfast, Clark took the old truck to Jamie’s farm. He did her chores and checked on the house and was back at the ranch by eleven. He was on his way to the kitchen to get a cool drink when Annie just about bowled him over.
“What are you doing, girl? You sure seem to be in a big old hurry.”
“Okay, I’ll come with you and see what’s up but first let me get a cold drink of water. I worked up a sweat out there this morning.”
Annie waited impatiently for Clark to drink his water and then she led the way to a room down the hall from Brad’s study.
Clark found himself in a room with beautiful polished wood floors, big windows that let lots of light in, and in the corner was a piano sitting on a small stage. Ballerina bars lined one wall and there were mirrors on another.
“This must be some sort of dance studio or a place to put on all kinds of shows. It’s really nice, but what do you want me to do in here?” Clark asked.
At that moment Dina came in and she had Mrs. Langford with her. Although she could walk with the aid of a cane she was still in a weakened condition so Dina was pushing her in a wheelchair.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” the lady said. “I’m Mrs. Langford, Jamie’s mother. The only thing I know about you young man is that you play a mean guitar and you have a beautiful voice.”
Clark’s face turned four shades of red. He was at a loss for words.
“I see you’re somewhat confused, Clark. I wasn’t able to sleep last night, so I went out to the sitting room in our lovely quarters intending to read. You can imagine my surprise when I heard Annie whining. Well, I opened the door and there she was. I had no idea what she wanted, though I was able to figure out she wanted me to keep the door open. It was only a minute or two later that I heard the most beautiful song being played on a guitar. It was a song I had never heard before. It wasn’t long until I heard someone begin to sing and soon after that, I heard a second voice harmonizing with the first. You see my rooms are right down the hall from you and you’re room is close to Katie’s. Arf had managed to get her door to stay open as well.”
Dina was beginning to show her excitement while on the other hand Clark didn’t seem to be excited at all.
“Young man,” Mrs. Langford said. “You and Katie both have exceptional voices, but I’m not a singing coach. Until I retired, I was a dance choreographer. I understand Katie needs to work on strengthening her leg muscles and improving her coordination. You are going to help her. I also think the two of you can sing a couple of songs together. We’ll get you ready to put on one humdinger of a performance. What time does Katie get home from school, Dina? I would like to get them started on a couple of moves this afternoon.”