Hurricane Temple

Chapter 3

"Poppa, what kind of cookies are they?" Christopher asked quietly. "They're not Oreos, are they?"

"Ah, a child with a discerning palate," I sighed happily and proudly. "Well, I can guarantee two things about cookies in this house," I told them seriously. "In this house, you will never, ever find an Oreo, and you will never, ever, never find an oatmeal raisin cookie."

"You still don't like raisins?" Elena asked.

"I still do not like raisins," I confirmed. "No raisins in this house at all ever."

"What's wrong with raisins, Poppa?" Ronan inquired.

"Childhood trauma when I was about your age," I sniffed. "We don't discuss it. Raisins are banned from my presence, end of story."

"You know they have better quality control now, right?" Elena poked the bear.

"We do not discuss it," I repeated. "I'm sensitive about such things."

"Yeah, Mommy, Poppa is sissytived," Little Christopher said as he and Della both moved closer and snuggled me. Elena had remarkable self-control. She didn't start laughing until after I did.

"That's much nicer than how I'm usually called a sissy," I shrugged as I kissed his head. He and his brother settled back to sleep again as I finally got around to explaining the basics of hurricane survival to Elena.

"So, we're going to spend the night in the closet on the floor," she stated flatly once I was done.

"This is a small storm moving relatively quickly, so yes, one night in the safe room should be sufficient," I confirmed.

Sure enough, the next morning when I opened the closet door and looked out the bedroom windows, the skies were still cloudy, but the rain and wind were mostly gone. Elena's leg was not injured quite as badly as either of us had first thought, so she insisted. She shooed us out of the closet and moments later emerged wearing a pair of my pants with a belt she had tied into a knot, a Neiman Marcus belt, mind you, and a polo shirt that I had gotten for attending a fund raiser a few years earlier. It had never fit me properly and the color was hideous on me, so I had no issues with that.

Once Elena had hobbled to the kitchen with help from me and my collection of walking sticks and canes, she began preparing breakfast for the boys. I tried to help since it was my kitchen after all, but again, I was shooed away in my own home.  I went outside for the first look around in daylight after the storm. There was no more damage to my house, thank you Simone, but when I looked outside my property, I discovered that the rain and wind were not the only things that were gone. Where there had once been two houses past mine, closer to the mouth of the bay off the Gulf of Mexico, it now appeared that my property was the last land before the Gulf. Just as I was about to turn back into the house, I heard my name being called out.

"Temple! My Temple, where are you, my Temple?"

"My name is Templeton, Dermot, as I have told you countless times already," I reminded the man as I rolled my eyes in frustration. "I also answer to Tim as you very well know," I pointed out.

"My Temple," he gushed as he grabbed me and hugged me tightly right in the middle of my front yard.

"Mommy, there's a man in the front yard humping Poppa," Ronan called out from the porch. Dermot immediately backed off and stared at the front door of the house where my little guardian was standing with his arms crossed across his chest as if he were the parent and I were the teenager coming home late from a date. "Poppa, do you know him? Did you say it was ok for him to get in your no-no space?"

"Temple, sweetheart, why is there a disgruntled munchkin on your porch being scary to me?" Dermot asked as he took another step away from me. I definitely made note to keep the boys around when I wanted Dermot to simmer down.

"Dermot, meet my grandson, Ronan," I introduced as I walked toward the house. "You might as well come in the house and meet the others," I added.

"There's more?" Dermot squeaked.

"Is he ok, Poppa?" Ronan wondered as I got closer. "He's bleeding and he just sat down in the mud."

"DERMOT!"  Ok, I admit it, I screamed his name. Just because I don't want the old fool to know how much I like him doesn't mean I want him injured or dying. "Ronan, tell your mother we're going to the hospital, and I will call home to tell her what's going on as soon as I can."

"HA! I knew you were my boyo, Temple, Mo Chara," Dermot is sitting on the rain-soaked muddy grass grinning up at me like a crazy person.

"What in the world is going on out…. Poppa, do you need help?" Elena called out from the house.

"Remind me that I can't kill this Irish scoundrel in front of my grandchildren, Elena," I snarled as I stormed over to Dermot.

"Don't hit me, love," he begged. "I really am hurt. I had to dig my way out of what was left of my house this morning to come check on you."

"Oh, you really are bleeding, you big idiot," I gasped looking at his wounded arm. "I knew I should have made you stay here last night."

"I've been telling you that since the very day I laid eyes on you, darling," Dermot grinned up at me.

"Dermot, behave yourself, there are children present," I scolded.

"We get presents for getting through the storm?" Christopher asked as he peeked around his mother's legs.

"Saints preserve us, there are more," Dermot gasped. "And this one no bigger than a wee leprechaun."

"Did he hit his head too, Poppa," Ronan asked. "He's talking weird."

"He always talks craziness, so I'm not sure, Ronan," I answered with a smirk at Dermot.

"Ronan, what a fine, strong Irish name," Dermot smiled. "Irish Roan, do you see that limb on the ground over there?" the man called out to my grandson, and pointed to a bit of driftwood blown in by the storm. "Fetch that to me if you would, so I can have a little help off the ground here."

"You can lean on me," Ronan offered. "I'm pretty strong. I got Kissyfur from Mr. Diego's…. MOMMY! LOOK!" he suddenly yelled pointing at the now missing rest of my neighborhood. "Mr. Diego's house is gone."

"Oh my God. Poppa, I thought you said this wasn't a really bad storm," Elena gasped.

"Any storm strong enough to get called a hurricane is a bad storm," Dermot said, as Ronan and I helped him up. "That said, they can get a lot worse than the one we had hit here last night."  He sagged a bit again after that, though.

Elena tried to come into the yard to help me with Dermot, but her much better today leg gave way, and she would have fallen if Ronan hadn't abandoned Dermot and I to rush to her side.

"Ok, new plan," I announced. "Christopher, grab my keys from that little bowl on the table just inside the door, and bring them out to me."

"These keys, Poppa?" he asked as he ran out of the house holding them.

"That's the ones," I confirmed. "Now stand right here in front of us and point at that big door by the van. Now say 'Open in the name of Poppa the Great'," I instructed him. As he said the magic words, I pushed the remote to open the garage door, not letting either of the boys see what I was doing.

"WHOA!" both boys squealed in amazement.

"PRETTY CAR!" Christopher squealed.

"You have voice command on the garage door?" Ronan asked. "How did you already program it for Kissyfur's voice, though? Did you do my voice too?"

"You know, your father was much more impressed with that trick back in the day," I pouted a bit.

"He would have been. New generation, new technology, new ways of looking at the tech," Elena laughed as she leaned on the borrowed cane since the boys were clearly about to burst to go check out the car.  "Go ahead boys, but don't touch it until we get there," she encouraged. "At least they're impressed with the car," she consoled me.

"Hello, strange woman, Dermot O'Loughlin, at your service, ma'am," Dermot greeted her. "I'm Temple's boyfriend but he won't admit it," he whispered to Elena as he pointed at me.

"Dermot," I growled. "Not the time or place."

"See?" Dermot asked. "Is ok, though. I'll wait for him until we're old and gray if I have to."

"We are old and gray, you Irish idiot," I scolded. "Now shush and get in the car."

"Yeah, he definitely needs to be seen," Elena agreed with me. Just as she said it, she almost fell as well. "Yeah, ok, I'll get my leg looked at as well," she surrendered.

"Poppa, why aren't we going in the van?" Ronan asked.

"We have to leave the house unguarded to go," I explained. "I can replace that van a lot easier than I can this car if someone were to break into the house while we're gone. At the hospital, there will be security patrols in the parking lot to protect it."

"Poppa, I see police lights up there," little Christopher said as he stood up on the hump in the floor of the back seat so he could look over the front seat and see where we were going. I would have sworn I told the boys to at least put the seatbelts on, since I did not have car seats to put either of them into for the drive. Elena pulled the child back down to the back seat beside her and buckled him in… again.

We had been going a bit slowly as we were avoiding some of the worst spots of damage from wind and sea surge. My poor Caddy was definitely going to need a bath when this was over, as a couple of times I had been forced to drive through the ditch to get around fallen trees. I had seen the roadblock before Christopher had, though, so I was feeling relieved rather than worried.

"I need to see license and registration," an officer demanded as he walked up to us.

"Officer, I have injured people in this car that I am trying to get to the hospital," I told him.

"All I see is a bunch of folks joy riding in a valuable car during a weather crisis," he replied.

"Perhaps you should look a little closer then," Elena snarled from the back seat. "First of all, who goes joyriding with small kids without car seats, which were blown away by the storm so don't even think about saying something about that. Second, I have a splint on my leg and the man in the front passenger seat has blood all over him. Now, you can stall us longer and wait for our attorneys to make sure that you never work in law enforcement again, or you can get your stupid butt out of the way and let us through now."

"That's a dangerous tone to take with an officer of the law, miss," the police officer snarled.

"My mommy's hurt and you won't let her get better," Christopher yelled out. "I thought police men are 'pose to be good guys. You're just a mean old bully."

"I'm sorry, little one," the man said with a very loud sigh. "I've seen stuff during these storms that good people should never do, and I just assumed that you were all doing that too. See, according to our reports, there shouldn't be anyone down this road because of the evacuations last night."

"Oh, we didn't get that notice, Officer," I told him. "I certainly would have brought my daughter-in-law and grandsons to a safer place if I had known that. It must have come in while I was rescuing her from the house next door that isn't there anymore this morning."

"I think I'm going to take a nap now while you talk with the blue Power Ranger," Dermot mumbled and then slumped over against my shoulder.

"Right, scoot over and let me drive," the police officer ordered. "I'm trained for high-speed driving, and my partner over there will escort us to the hospital. JACE! Escort to the hospital, medical emergency," he called out to the other officer guarding the roadblock.

"Finally, something to actually do," Jace called back. "Don't worry folks, we'll get you there in no time."

He was not exaggerating. We got to the hospital all the way across town in less time than it usually takes me to get to the grocery store that was only halfway across town. The two patrol men lifted Dermot onto a stretcher, and then helped Elena out of the car and into a wheelchair. Before they left, the first officer handed me a card.

"I apologize for letting negative aspects of the job affect my attitude with you folks," he began. "I would like the chance to make that up to you if I can, and I would really like to talk to you about that car sometime."

"It's not for sale," I told him firmly.

"Oh, no, I don't want to buy it," he corrected quickly. "I have a 67 Deville myself, hardtop, project car, you know. The thing is, I notice you have a black interior in a Venetian Blue car. I have a black car with a medium blue interior."

"Are you suggesting a trade of some sort?" I asked.

"That's exactly what I was thinking," he smiled.

"I believe arrangements could be made," I returned his smile. "I've always hated that black interior. Who does that in a convertible?"

"I know, right? Talk about fried ham," he replied with a snort of laughter. "Well, get in there and take care of your family. We can discuss this next week maybe?"

"Sounds like a plan to me, Officer…."

"Oh, when we're talking cars, you can just call me Mike," he waved as he got into the patrol car to return to the roadblock at my street.

Elena was examined and told she had an infection setting into the wound, but antibiotics should take care of it since it had been caught early. The doctor started to tell her to stay off the leg as much as possible, but then she looked over at Ronan and Christopher and said, "You know what, I'm going to write you a prescription for a pair of forearm crutches so when you do have to get up and about, you can still stay off that leg until it heals.  Now, you two little ones can go with the aide, Miss Susan, and get a snack from the vending machine down the hall, while Mommy gets her leg wrapped by the nurse, and your grandpa and I go next door to check on my other patient."

Dermot on the other hand… he had been given blood and was told he would be staying at least overnight while they pumped him full of antibiotics and monitored him. "At your age, we should take all reasonable precautions," the nurse who looked about 14 years old said.

"At my age, I can get a cane to spank you with, claim senility, and get away with it," Dermot grouched.

"You're just confirming that you're a cranky old man," I pointed out to him. "Now, hush and do as you're told."

"How rude," Dermot pouted.

Ronan and Christopher showed up in the room then with both boys eating little raisins out of little red boxes. "Oh no you don't," I snapped. "You keep those vile little things away from me," I pointed toward the boys.

"Those are children, sir," the tiny little nurse snarled at me. "You can be polite and respectful, or I can have you thrown out."

"I don't mean my grandbabies, you child," I growled back. "I meant those raisins. Don't let them near me with those worms."

"He once got a box of raisins as a child that had a worm in the box," Dermot explained. "He's got a bit of the PTSD about it, I'm afraid."

"I was very young, and it was a very large, very alive, very wiggly, bright green worm with like… growths on it," I defended. "And I had just turned the box up and dumped some into my mouth. I could have gotten a worm in my mouth," I protested. "It was horrible."  Christopher and Ronan both ran to the rolling bedside table and dumped their raisins out on it to inspect for unwanted critters. The nurse laughed and left the room.

"All right, let me take you and the children home," I told Elena.

"You're leaving me in here? All alone?" Dermot asked with wide eyes.

"Why can't we stay with Mr. Silly?" Christopher asked innocently.

"His name is Mr. O'Loughlin," I corrected.

"Mr. Silly is easier to say than Mr. O'Laughing," Christopher shrugged.

After a few chuckles at the face Dermot made over that remark, I explained to everyone why we could not stay at the hospital. "First of all, we aren't family," I pointed out. I ignored Dermot mumbling something about not for a lack of trying. "Secondly, if Dermot's house is damaged, someone has to go there and see to it."

"Nothing left, I'm afraid," Dermot said sadly. "I'll be forever grateful if you could manage to salvage any of the things I got from my mother, though. Clutched that blanket like a lifeline all the way over from the old country, she did."

"Dermot, it's not like they survived the Titanic to get here," I scolded. "Your parents flew over here in the sixties on a jet."

"Do you intend to spoil all my tales of daring do for these little ones?" he demanded.

"Yes, it's my job as their grandfather," I snarked. "If anyone is going to tell them tall tales it will be me."

"He could be a bonus Grandpa," Ronan suggested.

"Or a step-grandda," Dermot said with a flirty smile.

"Hush, you," I told him. "Let's get going so they can get Dermot settled into a room upstairs," I said to everyone else. Just as we were leaving, a cute little twink of an orderly showed up to take Dermot upstairs.

"Come along with me, Mr. O, we'll get you tucked into bed nice and comfy and give you a nice relaxing sponge bath," the cutie said as he started wheeling the bed away. "I'll take the best care of you."

"Dermot," I called out to him. "You remember where you have been trying to get for the last five years, and that you will be there as soon as you get out of the hospital, and the doctor clears you for that sort of… event, as opposed to where you will be otherwise."

"Yes, dear," he nodded seriously. "Eyes on the prize, the real one, not the kewpie doll."  Twinky started to wheel him further down the hall, but Dermot stopped him. "My Temple," he called out. "Do you really mean it about where I'll be when I get out of here?"

"If you behave yourself," I said with a glare at Twinky.

"I'll be as pure as the driven snow," he vowed.

"We live in Florida, there is no snow, you Irish loon," I told him, but I did rub his uninjured arm lovingly. "And you, young man, don't fall for any bul… blarney from this old Irishman. Take care of him as you would your grandfather."

"Now that was not necessary," Dermot pouted. "Just because you suddenly have little minions of munchkinland, doesn't mean I'm… umm doesn't mean I'm ready for full grown ones."

"Nice attempt at a save," Twinky giggled. Yes, giggled. "I'll take good care of him for you, Mr. Harris."

"You know who I am?"

"Like I wouldn't recognize you from the back cover of half the books in my room at home," the young medical professional said. "I heard a rumor online that you're working on a sequel to Beach Bandit. Is that true?"

"Well, only a few chapters so far," I admitted.

"AWESOMESAUCE!" he squealed. "I can't wait to tell Dustin. We met on the beach when his dog broke his leash just like Benji and Darren in the story."

"I'll bring you an autographed copy when I come back to check on Dermot," I told the nice young man.

"OMG, Dustin won't believe it," he gushed. "Dustin is my fiancé. He's from Destin. He gets a lot of teasing about that."

"I would think so," I agreed. "You take care of Dermot for me, and I will go check on his house and be back in a little while."