During the flight home Spencer considered all that had happened in the last week after he squished his tall frame in the tight seat, trying to keep his size twelve feet out of the aisle as best he could. At least it wasn’t a full flight and there would be less traffic in the aisle. He was very grateful for the conversation with Mrs. Kern and her understanding about Kate and Sarah. Spencer noticed Mr. Kern looked paler than the last time Spencer saw him and knew he had some sort of health problems, but seemed to be well enough at the funeral. They only spoke briefly. But any help he and Mrs. Kern offered with Sarah would help if Kate was agreeable.
But he wondered how much help she would need from him, or if she would even consider it. He knew Jen was a pretty good friend of Kate’s, and as quirky as Kelly was, she might help, but Kate had no family to speak of. How was Kate going to deal with sudden motherhood? After the death of John, this was going to hit her like a tazer.
All Spencer knew for sure was that Kate would definitely need help, which he was willing to offer. Single parenting was tough for those he knew in that situation, but this was going to be even harder. Add in Active Duty single parenthood and you had a triple whammy.
Back home after unpacking, he changed into gym shorts for a run. The locusts squawked in the trees and the leaves started to turn, falling in mini whirlwinds. Soon fall in southern Illinois would be in full swing. He felt the gust in his face and took off at a faster pace, feeling some of his stress blowing away with the breeze.
Later after showering, he called Kate and left a message. He needed to see her and talk about John. He did some laundry and prepared his uniforms for the following week. He checked patches for loose threads and polished his boots which were getting scuffed.
Finished with his errands, he picked up his phone and checked for messages. He had it charging while he was out running and doing his laundry. He had a text from Matt:
Spencer called him and they chatted about how the funeral went and decided to go see the movie showing that evening at the base theater.
Matt waited for him outside the doors. “Hey, how’s it going?”
“Fine I guess.” Spencer looked at the ground, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his khakis and then added, “It’s not going to be fine after I talk to Kate.”
“Why’s that?” Matt pulled the door open and they found seats midway down the aisle.
Spencer looked up and sighed. “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
“I have to tell Kate that she’s going to be the legal guardian of John’s daughter.”
“What?!” Matt looked around the theater which was only a third full and said, “Sorry,” to anyone who heard him.
Spencer whispered the rest of the story about Sarah.
“You mean, spirited independent Kate, not going to be a mom EVER, is going to be a mom to John’s kid?”
Spencer nodded. “That about sums it up.”
“Holy smokes.” Matt shook his head and looked at Spencer like he lost his marbles.
Spencer shrugged and gestured toward the screen where the movie previews were starting.
After the movie, which intrigued him enough to forget about his troubles for a short while at least, he said to Matt, “Not a word to anyone.”
“Scout’s honor.” Matt let out a low whistle and said, “Man. How did you get roped into this anyway?”
Spencer grunted. “By being John’s friend and a witness on his legal documents.”
“How long have you known?”
“For a while. But John himself didn’t know he was a dad until the kid-and by the way, her name is Sarah-was a year old. And only because the mom has some sort of fast-growing cancer and is dying or already has by now. If so, Sarah’s in a foster home or orphanage. In Iowa.” He cleared his throat before adding, “And you know, he had this latest Deployment and had to update everything.”
“Yeah, I get that. But wow.”
Spencer and Matt were now outside the theater leaning against Spencer’s car. The night air refreshed them with the stars twinkling above. Traffic on base was light as most classes and work days were over except those in Security or other nightly duties. Most of the other movie goers had dispersed and left. The only sounds were a few mourning doves not quite settled for the night and a few crickets in the bushes along the perimeter of the theater.
After a minute Matt moved away from the car and said, “Let me know if you need anything. Not that I have any experience in dropping explosives like that or in childcare. If you have a black eye one day, I’ll know what hit you.”
“You got that right.” Spencer opened his door and waved Matt a later gesture and drove home, wishing he didn’t have to do this.
Until next time,