Brad, Clark, and Annie got back to the ranch late Sunday night. The plan was for Mark to stay on with Grandpa John, Arf and Biff for a few days. He would make sure things were proceeding well with the work Arf was doing to help Grandpa John get acclimated to being blind.
“Good morning, Brad.” As usual, Miss Bessie was already in the kitchen when Brad came in to get his early morning cup of coffee. God forbid she miss out on anything going on. “I’m surprised to see you up and about so early. Didn’t you and Clark drive all the way back yesterday? Annie came back with you too, right?”
“Morning Miss Bessie. Yup, we left at four o’clock yesterday morning and got back about midnight last night. It will be tough for Clark to get up and go to school this morning. I don’t think he was really looking forward to it, anyway.”
Miss Bessie poured them both a cup of coffee and sat down at the table across from Brad. “He’s got another hour or so before he has to get up and going,” she said. “Now tell me the scoop. Is Grandpa John going to be okay? How about Clark? I’ll bet he wanted to stay didn’t he? Do you think Arf will have to be there for a long time? We sure do miss him around here and since you brought Annie back, she’s sure to be lost without him.”
“Clark didn’t want to leave his grandpa, but it made him feel a whole lot better knowing that Arf would be there to help him learn how to live with his blindness. They’re both doing quite well. And then there’s Biff. He’s just happy that Arf has to do all the work. He’d much rather watch from a distance. Mark should be heading back in the next couple of days. I sure hope so. My wife has worked hard trying to keep things going around here. I hate that she’s had to do that. She needs to be spending time with Jake.”
“Oh, she’s fine,” Miss Bessie got up to pour them another cup of coffee. “I think it makes Jamie feel good to be able to help you. You two make a good team. Her parents, however, are a different story. Now that their days aren’t filled with choreographing and dance lessons for Clark and Katie, not to mention Arf and Annie, they wander around and get on each other’s nerves. I fear Mrs. Langford is going to make herself sick again if she doesn’t find something to do.”
“Miss Bessie…How do you think Barbie is doing? Has she said anything to you about going back to her home?”
“Not to me. I would think she had decided to stay here except she has really been keeping to herself. She even has most of her meals in her room. You probably noticed that before you left.”
“Right,” Brad said. “I just didn’t want to put any pressure on her either way, but I’m beginning to think something is wrong. I’d better talk with her today sometime.”
Clark walked into the kitchen humming a tune. He was carrying his books and appeared to be all ready to eat his breakfast and head for school. Miss Bessie jumped up to prepare him his favorite hotcakes and bacon. “Good morning, honey,” she said. “What is that pretty song you’re humming?”
Brad was quick to answer for him. “Only the most beautiful song you’ll probably ever hear, Miss Bessie. “I’m sure Clark will let you listen to it after school today. He and his grandpa wrote it together years ago and they just recorded it in the recording booth Grandpa John built on his property up on the mountain.”
“I wish he would come here to live,” Clark said. “But I understand why he doesn’t want to. He’ll be okay don’t you think, Brad? I plan to visit him as often as I can and maybe he and Biff can somehow get here for visits like at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
“He knows he’s always welcome here and he’s got his boys in the band to help him out. They have quite a reputation in the area for the shows they put on. He’ll be fine and now that he’ll have a telephone, you’ll be able to talk to him often. Didn’t the two of you decide to work on another song?”
“Yeah,” Clark said as he dug into his hotcakes. “How is Katie doing?” He asked Miss Bessie between mouthfuls.
“She seems happy. I think you know she’ll be spending some of her time here with Dina and sometimes she’ll stay with Steve at the farm. They all seem to be agreeable to that plan, so we’ll see how it works out. I think Helen is going to help Steve out at the farm when Katie is with him.”
“Well,” Clark said. “Guess I’d better head for school. I’ll see you all tonight. I’ll play our song for you, Miss Bessie. I want Jamie’s parents to hear it, too. Oh, and keep an eye on Annie. I think she’s feeling left out. She was upset that she had to come back and Arf didn’t.”
“Where is Annie?” Brad asked. “I figured she would be glued to your side.”
“She wasn’t in my room when I woke up this morning. She’s probably in your office looking out the squirrel window.”
Annie: I don’t understand why they made me come home. It’s going to be hard being the only dog around here. Clark will be in school all day, and Katie is in school and sometimes she’s with Jack at the farm after school. Looks like I’ll be doing a lot of squirrel watching.
“There you are!” A voice said. “They told me you were back. That news was music to my ears. Someone has really been missing you. He’s just not used to having no dogs around. See Jake…I told you Annie was back. Aren’t you excited?”
“Annnnie!” The little boy ran to hug Annie around the neck and she found she was instantly feeling better.
“Clark and Katie are in school all day and I’ve been doing a lot of ranch work since Mark has been gone so much. Jake hasn’t had anyone to play with. My parents spend time with him, but they haven’t been that much fun to be around lately. What am I saying all this to you for? You have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re probably hearing bla, bla, bla.”
Annie: I barked once. It was my way of telling Jamie that I understood. Now what should I do? One of Arf’s frisbees was under the couch. That’s it! We can play frisbee! I tried to reach it with my paw, but I couldn’t get close enough. Jake saw what I was trying to do and crawled underneath the couch to get it.
“Can I go outside with Annie to play with the frisbee, Mommy?”
“Sure honey…but stay out front where I can easily see you.”
When Katie got home from school that day, she was excited that Clark was back, but couldn’t hold back the tears when she learned that Arf wouldn’t be home for a while. That night when Dina went to tuck her daughter in, she overheard a conversation Katie was having with her doll.
“My legs hurt. I’m scared that when I wake up tomorrow I won’t be able to walk.”