Alternate Universe "For the Larabees"
Fourth story in the Beginnings Collection
Six months after Mae Wilmington died, and Buck moved into the Larabee household, Cindy Larabee contracted influenza. She had willingly agreed to aide the local doctor in carrying for the townsfolk afflicted with the disease, never one to turn her back on someone else in need. That was after all why she had befriended Mae Wilmington in the first place. She had seen their two sons playing together one day, and heard the rumors around town about Mae being a working girl. Instead of forbidding Chris to have anything to due with Buck because of his mothers less than savory work, she had instead made it a point to introduce herself to Mae. The two women soon became fast friends and from that day on, whenever Mae was entertaining guests, Buck would be spend most of that time at the Larabee house with Chris.
It had been one day last week when Cindy had returned home from her job as a laundress for one of the hotels, feverish and weak. She had tumbled into bed and had never gotten out of it again. While Chris stayed by his mothers side, Buck had been sent to get the doc who had taken one look at Cindy, and diagnosed her as having influenza as well. He had left some medicine, along with some instructions with the two small boys on how to care for her, and then gone back to the makeshift hospital to see to the rest of the townsfolk afflicted with influenza.
Working together, Chris and Buck bathed Cindys feverish skin; spoon-fed her medicine, water, and broth. When she was too weak to use the bedpan they provided for her, they even changed her soiled clothing and remade the bed. Nothing they did seemed to make one bit of difference though. She finally succumbed to the disease.
That had been two nights earlier. It had been late and both Buck and Chris had been sleeping. Chris had awakened suddenly, and gone to his mothers side, thinking that she might have called out to him in her delirium. He found when he kneeled down beside her and reached out to take one of her hands in his, that it was cold. He had thought that odd, since most of her body, including her hands, had been very warm ever since she had first taken sick.
It had taken a moment or two for realization to sink into the twelve-year-old that his mother was dead, but when it did, boy did he let loose. Buck had awakened to the sounds of Chris throwing things against the wall, and it had frightened him. He had never seen his close friend react in such an angered way before, and only when he had gone over to the bed and lit a lamp to see Cindy, did he realize why Chris was acting the way that he was.
Chris was a lot calmer now. Buck thought to himself as he stood beside his best friend and listened to the softly spoken words of the preacher. He was too calm. Not since that night had Chris shown any outward sign of being upset at all by his mothers death. He just simply went through the motions of telling the caretaker what dress he thought his ma would want to be buried in, what types of flowers she liked, and whether or not he wanted it to be a big ceremony or small one. Chris had said he didnt think they knew enough people to even make a decent size funeral, and he had been right. Despite all the help she had aided certain members of the small community; none had the decency to repay her kindness by even showing up at her funeral.
That was all right with Buck, and he had a feeling that Chris was very relieved that it was only the two of them at the funeral beside the preacher. Buck wasnt sure about anything, since Chris hadnt spoken one word to him since his Ma had died.
Chris stood before his mothers grave, afraid to say or do anything, for fear that he would just start crying again and he wouldnt be able to stop. He didnt know what was going to happen now. He had no place to go and no relatives in which to live with. While his mother was alive it hadnt really mattered much that his pa had run out on him and his ma when he was a little kid. His ma was always there to care for him when he was sick, discipline him when he had gotten out of line, made sure he had enough food and did his homework, and made all the holidays special no matter how little they had to celebrate with.
When the preacher had finished the ceremony, and moved away from the grave, Buck cast Chris a sidelong look. He didnt know what was going to happen from here on out, but he hoped that Chris didnt have any ideas on taking off on his own. They were best friends and they needed to stick together, since there was nobody else that he could depend upon.
Whats going to happen to us now? Buck asked tentatively.
I dont know.
Chris let out a shaky breath as he heard Buck sniffle beside him. He knew then that Buck was just as terrified as he was about what was going to happen to them now, and just knowing that he really wasnt truly alone, made him feel a little bit better. He would miss his Ma always, but he didnt have to do it alone.
He turned to Buck finally; sorrowful green eyes looking into Bucks tear filled blue ones. I dont know whats going to happen to us now, Buck. What I do know is that were going to face it together.
A relieved smile broke through Bucks tears at his best friends words. You mean that?
I wouldnt say it if I didnt mean it.
5. Vin's Story