KC AND GRUMP 3
a Sweetwater Saga short story
KC stood in the front parlor, her elbows resting on the windowsill and her face cupped in her hands. Her weight was balanced on one leg as her other leg was bent at the knee with her moccasin covered foot hooked on the seat of a chair. She was watching her grandfather sweep snow off the wrap-a-round porch.
Snow, accumulated during the previous days, had been blown into drifts around the ranch yard and against the house by strong overnight winds. On the front side of the house, where Stanley was working, much of the porch had been covered by blowing snow. As he cleared the porch, he created even deeper drifts in front of the house.
KC watched as Stanley finally removed the last of the blown snow. Standing at a corner of the porch he surveyed the portico. Satisfied that his morning task was complete, he leaned the broom against the wall then pulled his kerchief from his back pocket and walked to the pair of rocking chairs usually occupied by his daughter and daughter-in-law at the end of a long day. With a groan, he sat down.
KC smiled. “Come on, Cha-wie,” she said as she turned away from the window. “Time to play.” Charley, sitting in the chair his sister had been using as a foot rest, rolled over onto his stomach and dropped his legs over the side of the cushion. KC wrapped her arms around them and helped him down to the floor.
Stanley glanced over at the door when he heard it creak open. “I’ve been wonderin’ when ya would make an appearance,” he told his granddaughter as she marched out onto the porch with her brother in tow. KC pulled the door closed then stood with her hands on her hips. “Well?” He asked, watching her scrutinize the results of his labor. “Does it meet with your approval?” he asked as he helped Charley climb into his lap.
KC finally nodded.
Stanley chuckled. “So,” he addressed his grandson, “just what do ya young ‘uns plan on doin’?”
“Play,” KC answered for her brother.
“Play? Where? Everything is covered with snow.”
KC turned to face Stanley. “I know dat,” she said then walked over to stand beside the rocking chair. “You play wif us?”
“Play? Silly young ‘un. I’m an old man. I don’t play.”
KC tilted her head to study her grandfather. After several seconds, she giggled. “You funny.” Then she looked over her shoulder at the mounds of snow alongside the edge of the porch. “Come on, Cha-wie.” Dutifully, Charley climbed down from his grandfather’s lap to join his sister. “You watch me. Then do what I do. ‘Kay?” As soon as Charley nodded, KC turned and ran for the end of the porch. Without any hesitation, she leaped into the air. Stretching her legs out in front of her, she landed butt first on top of a pile of fluffy snow and burst into giggles.
Charley, following his sister’s example, ran after KC. But when he jumped, he didn’t stretch out his legs. Instead, he landed feet first and instantly disappeared.
Stanley leaped out of the rocking chair and ran to the edge of the porch. “Where’d the little tyke go?” he worriedly asked his giggling granddaughter.
KC pointed at a hole in the snow bank. “He dere.”
“Where?” Stanley asked, even more worried. He was just about to leap off the porch himself when a head popped up, a gob of snow precariously balance on its top. “Oh, for the love of…” Stanley gasped. “You ‘bout scared what little life I have left right outa me.”
“You funny,” KC said rolling over onto her stomach. She reached a hand down to a grinning Charley. “Was that fun?” she asked her brother. Charley’s grin grew larger as he nodded his head enthusiastically. “Want to do it ag’in?” Another enthusiastic bobbing of his head. “Good.” With his sister’s help, Charley climbed out of his self made hole and joined her on top of the snow mound. “Next time, Cha-wie,” KC instructed, “do dis when you jumps.” She showed him how to stretch his legs out so he would land on his butt.
“Ya ain’t plannin’ to do that again, are ya?” Stanley asked as the children crawled off the snowdrift and back onto the porch.
“Yep,” KC said matter-of-factly, brushing snow off her brother. “Ready?” she asked Charley who nodded his response. This time, they ran together to the edge of the porch and jumped simultaneously. Landing side-by-side on top of the drift, KC and Charley dissolved into giggles.
“Young ‘uns,” Stanley muttered as he back-tracked to the rocker and sat down with a thump.
KC helped Charley back to the porch then led him over to their frowning grandfather. She stood beside his chair and gazed up at him. “You play wif us, Grumps?”
“Told ya before, young ‘un, I’m too old to be jumpin’ into snow banks.”
Stanley looked at his grandchildren as they stood looking back at him, hope written all over their faces. He looked toward the barn where he had last seen Jesse then he twisted around to look through the window behind him. He knew Jennifer was inside but she had said at breakfast that she had some baking to do and the kitchen was on the back side of the house. He looked back to find two eager faces watching him. “Oh, all right,” he said pushing himself up from the rocker. “But I is only gonna do this once.”
Smiles spread across KC and Charley’s faces. They each reached up for one of the grandfather’s large, calloused hands and led him to the edge of the porch. KC jumped first. Then Charley landed beside her with a loud crunch as the snow compacted under him. Then the pair scooted over to the side of the depression their landings had created and waited.
Stanley, knowing he couldn’t… wouldn’t… disappoint the little girl and boy waiting patiently, leaped off the porch. He threw his long legs out in front of him and landed with a resounding plop in the middle of the depression. KC and Charley wasted no time diving on top their grandfather. As Stanley tried to fend off the hugs and kisses, he felt himself slipping downward. “Whoa. Hold on there, young ‘uns,” he told the children who pulled back to sit on either side of him. “Seems this here snow is having a bit of trouble supportin’ me. Let me get up before—”
KC and Charley watched in astonishment as the middle of their grandfather sunk into the snow leaving only his head, arms and legs visible. KC started to giggle and Charley joined her. “Grumps, you funny,” she said scooping up a handful of snow and tossing it onto his stomach.
“Stop that, young ‘un,” Stanley batted awkwardly as a second scoop was tossed. “Help me git outa here.”
“Nope,” KC said as she stood. “Dis fun.” She leaped over her helpless grandfather then turned around and leaped back. “Come on, Cha-wie. Do dis.” Then she jumped over Stanley again. Charley tried to copy his sister but his leaping ability wasn’t as strong and he couldn’t make the distance.
“Oof,” Stanley groaned when his grandson landed smack dab in the middle of his stomach.
KC laughed. “Cha-wie, you toos small. You stay dere.” Then she jumped over the head of her brother to land with a thump and tumbled, giggling, down the side of the snow bank.
Unable to move due to the snow compacted around his body and because of the boy sitting on top of him, Stanley could do nothing but sit and watch his granddaughter’s antics as she romped about in the snow.
“Think I best go out and rescue him,” Jesse told Jennifer. She had entered the back of the house minutes before to find the kitchen empty. When she went looking for her wife, she discovered her peeking out the front window. Jennifer had shushed her when she started to ask what she was doing and motioned her over to stand beside her.
“I think that’s probably a good idea.”
“I wonder how they managed to get him out there in the first place.”
Jennifer laughed softly. “You know, KC, she can talk him into doing just about anything.”
“That she can.”
“Let me go help Poppa.”
“I’ll start heating water. They will all be in need of a warm bath.” Jennifer turned away from the window intending to return to the kitchen but found herself wrapped in her wife’s arms instead. Jesse hugged her tightly. “Hmm. That feels good.”
“Sure does, darlin’. Want me to fill the buckets for you?”
“No, I can do it. You go get Stanley before KC decides to use his head as a jumping platform.” She turned back to the window when Stanley’s voice rose in frustration.
“Young ‘un, my legs don’ need to be any longer. Stop yankin’ on ‘em.”
“You better go,” Jennifer told Jesse as she watched her daughter use her grandfather’s legs to pull herself back up the side of the snow drift. Jesse chuckled looking out the window over Jennifer’s shoulder. “Bring them all inside. I don’t want the children to catch cold.”
Jesse gave Jennifer another quick hug then released her. “All right.” She walked to the door and pulled it open.
After Jesse went outside, Jennifer walked across the room to the kitchen, shaking her head and chuckling.
Jesse stepped out onto the porch and shut the door. Then she stepped to the edge of the porch and leaned against a wood post that supported the roof. Struggling to not smile, she said to her father, “You look a mite uncomfortable.”
Stanley rotated his head in the direction of his daughter’s voice. “Don’t just stand there wantin’ to bust a gut,” he snarled. “Help me outa here. And you can start by getting this here young ‘un off me. Don’ they ever sit still?” He asked as Charley bounced on top of him, clapping his hands and giggling as KC scampered around them.
“Charley, please stop bouncing on your grandfather,” Jesse said as seriously as she could manage under the circumstances. She struggled not to bust out laughing at the look on Stanley’s face when her son immediately stilled. “That’s my little man,” she said as she reached down and grabbed her son’s outstretched hands, neatly lifting him off his grandfather. “Looks like you were having a pretty good time there,” she said as she settled Charley into the crook of her arm.
Charley’s head bounced up and down. “Mo’.”
“Not right now. Your momma is afraid you’re getting cold. She’s fixin’ up a nice warm bath for you.”
Charley frowned. He watched KC still playing in the snow and pointed at her. “Mo’.”
“Nope. You are going inside. And so is KC,” Jesse told her unhappy son. “Just as soon as I can corral her,” she added when her daughter, laughing loudly, somersaulted down the side of the drift. Jesse stood Charley on the porch and ruffled his wet hair. “You stay put while I pull your grandpa free.” Anchoring herself by wrapping one arm around the roof support, she reached out her other arm to her father.
With Jesse’s help, Stanley managed to squirm around until he was able to stand thigh deep in snow. Then he plowed his way back to the porch and let Jesse help him up onto it. “Warm bath will feel good after that,” he said brushing snow off his clothes. “I best fetch me some dry clothes from the cabin first.”
“Take Charley and go inside,” Jesse said as she brushed snow off Stanley’s back. “I’ll go over and get the clothes.”
Stanley bent down and picked up Charley who was starting to shiver from his wet clothes. “Bet she’s cold too,” he said of KC who was still playing in the snow.
“Go on. I’ll bring her in.”
Stanley pushed the door open then stopped and turned to face Jesse. “You ain’t goin’ say nothin’?”
“About me acting like a dumb fool jumpin’ into a pile of snow?”
“Why’d you do it?”
“’Cause they asked.”
Jesse thought for a minute. “Seems to me, you’re old enough to say no.”
“Seems so. Don’t supposed you’d have done it?”
“Not likely. Playing in snow is for children.”
“Humpft.” Stanley turned and walked into the house.
Jesse stood on the porch waiting for KC who was climbing over the snow mound toward her. KC scooting off the mound to the porch then walked over and stood beside Jesse. “Have fun?” she asked her snow-covered daughter.
“Charley have fun?”
“Grandpa have fun?”
“Ready for a warm bath?”
“Good. You go inside then. Your momma’s waiting for you.”
“Where you go?”
“I need to get your grandpa some dry clothes.”
“I go too.”
“Hmm.” Jesse looked at the snow drift then she looked down at KC. “It was fun, huh?”
“Yep,” KC said looking up at her mother expectedly.
Jesse looked over her shoulder at the house. Pleased to see Jennifer wasn’t standing in the doorway waiting for her, she looked back at KC and smiled. “Well, then what are we waiting for?”
“Novin,” KC said then took off running with Jesse right behind her.
As soon as KC and Jesse landed on top of the snow bank, Jennifer held out her hand. “That’s two-bits you owe me.”
“Shoulda known better than ta bet against you when it comes ta Jesse.”
Jennifer laughed. “Yes, you should have. Now go get those wet clothes off and get in the tub. And take Charley with you.”
“Shouldn’t we wait and give the young ‘uns first dibs on the hot water?”
“Go on. If I know Jesse—”
“And you do.”
“You will have plenty of time for a bath before she and KC are done.” She laughed as squeals of laughter were heard from outside.
“Sure hope she remembers to fetch me sum dry britches.”
Jennifer pushed her father-in-law toward the back of the house. “Toss those into the kitchen when you strip out of them and I’ll hang them over the stove.”
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