One Good Turn



Scene Title One Good Turn
Synopsis Delia goes to great lengths to protect and care for an ill and displaced family.
Date July 1, 2011


It's a mighty good thing that Mr. Martell is unconscious, Delia's driving would likely stop his heart in his weakened condition. After many stops, starts, and jolts across intersections they finally arrive in Brooklyn. The abandoned garage, boarded up over the windows and doors, and padlocked at the gated entrance, seems a little intimidating in the twilight hours. Long shadows stretch out over the remains of automobiles left over from the establishment's former owner, creating a scene fit for a modern day horror movie.

The car is stopped at the curb and Delia pulls the keys from the ignition. Turning to look at the man and two children squishes into the back, and then the woman seated up front, she gives them each a weary smile. "It's not the Ritz but no one should bother you here. It's abandoned, used to belong to my ex-boyfriend." After the small explanation is delivered, she pushes herself out of the Civic and toward the gate.

The keys in her pockets don't fit the lock on the gate but the hole in the fence is just large enough for her to squeeze through. Within minutes a set of bolt cutters has been produced and the barrier keeping the family from rest has been bypassed.

The mother, Anne, leads the two children to the fence to pass to Delia. "Are you sure we should be here? We appreciate your help but we can go somewhere that won't get anyone in trouble…" she says weakly. She had explained on the car ride that her family were devout followers of a denomination against medical treatment, aside from first-aid, and that she and her husband Dave felt it would be better to care for each other and their small children in the privacy of their home, with only their faith to get them by.

"We appreciate your help, really, but… I don't want us to make you ill," she murmurs, though it's far too late for that, if it's a problem.

Jamie ducks through the new opening in the fence, tugging the smaller boy Mitch behind him. "This place is cool," Mitch murmurs, coughing into the crook of the elbow of his Spider Man pjs.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to get sick," Delia assures the woman as she uses her keys to unlock the interior door that leads to the apartment below. As she leads the family downstairs, she flicks a switch for the lights, on and off. It's not a surprise that they don't turn on but she knows her way around by feel.

"Be careful, just wait at the bottom of the stairs until I can find a flashlight. Jaiden had a bunch of generators and things like that… he was kind of a boy scout… as long as they weren't taken in the raid, we should be okay."

Sliding her boots along the floor, the redhead kicks away much of the overturned furniture and spilled out drawers that litters the area. Eventually she manages to find a flashlight. Soon, a beam pours out over the area, illuminating what the Martells might be calling home for a little while.

"Do what the nice lady says," the mother murmurs to the boys, then moves back to the car, opening the door and unbuckling Dave's seat. He opens his reddened eyes and puts an arm around her shoulders to help her help him out.

"Wait here, and the girl will help you," Anne tells her husband, reaching to wipe the corner of his mouth clean. "She's stronger than I am. I can't carry us both." Her eyes tear up a little at that admission before she moves to follow the others into the former safehouse.

When she catches up, her eyes follow that beam and she frowns a little, a hand going protectively to each of the children's shoulders. It's a strange paradox, to know they are ill and likely to die no matter where they go, and yet want to protect them from the dangers of unfamiliar places. "I don't want you to put yourself in danger for us, miss," Anne says to the redhead.

"You're not," she insists, placing the light on the counter before grabbing the broom to clear up some of the mess. "I can't stay past curfew, I have to get home every night but I'll be here right after it lifts every day." Enough of a path is cleared for the two boys to make their way toward the large sofa and Delia makes a little motion for the trio to sit.

She pauses before climbing the stairs again to aid the patriarch down the stairs, long enough for her to reach into her wallet and pull out a small picture. "My uhm… a really close friend of mine caught the flu…" she says quietly, handing the photograph of an unhappy looking Nick to the woman. "I can't do anything for him but I can help you, if you'll let me, it'll make me feel like I'm making a difference." Without waiting for Anne to reply, she bounds up the stairs to retrieve Dave.

Anne takes the photograph, peering down at it as she rests her head on the back of the sofa wearily. The youngest child curls up next to her, laying his head in her lap and closing his eyes. Anne reaches down to stroke through the damp curls of fair hair.

At the car, Dave rests with his hands on his knees, a coughing fit having just passed; drops of blood splatter the ground beneath his bare feet. The man is still in his pajamas, like the rest of his family. When Delia appears, he gives her a nod, wiping his mouth and straightening. "I think I made a mistake," he says softly, his voice raspy and hoarse. "I should have taken them to the hospital… but most of those folks are dying too, aren't they." It's not so much a question but a request for validation, for the choice he made.

"You did what you thought was right," the answer is just as soft as the question itself and Delia reaches toward his shoulders to help him through the doorway. As they make the tedious trek down the stairs, she keeps him occupied with chatter rather than allowing him to survey his surroundings. "If you change your mind, we can go anytime but I don't think they can do anything more than monitor and give fluids. I can do that for you and if it gets too bad for me to handle then I'll get more help."

Once down in the basement, she gives the man a weak smile. "Like I said, it's not the Ritz but I'll get it cleaned up tomorrow when I come back. Tonight I'll just get you guys beds and show you around. I think I know how to start the generator so you'll have power. Jaiden has a kick butt television… if it's still here."

The man nods his understanding; it's too tiring to talk and walk at the same time. "Thank you," he whispers once he's down the steps and eases into a seat, closing his eyes to rest from the exertion of the climb down. A moment later, Jamie moves from his place by Anne and Mitch and climbs into his father's lap; despite Dave's weariness, he curls a hand around the boy's shoulders, squeezing him affectionately.

"We're only allowed to watch like three stations and play some DVDs," Jamie tells Delia a little primly.

Anne smiles tiredly. "We might make some exceptions. When in Rome, and all." Her eyes drift to Delia's and she gives the younger woman a nod of gratitude. "You don't have to come back every day. You've already done so much." She holds out the photograph for the other woman. "I hope he's all right. I will pray for him."

Delia's eyes fall to the face of the man in the picture and she smiles a little before tucking it away again. "I hope so too, I've been really worried."

The young woman doesn't dawdle for long in the company of the family before moving again, this time toward a book case. With a grunt, she shoves it out of the way, making more room to squeeze behind it. "The generator's back behind here. There's another room with a lot of beds but I think you guys will be more comfortable in the apartment." She doesn't explain the reason for the hidden room much further than that. Her voice echoes as she keeps talking, trying to make the family a little more comfortable with their surroundings. The sound of a motor sputters a few times before actually starting and then the lights slowly flicker on.

"Thank you," Anne says again, looking back down at Mitchell, now sleeping, his face sweaty and pale.

His brother is less sleepy, however, and watches Delia as she moves through the building, watching curiously when she moves into the hidden room. "Whoa, did you see that, Dad?" he asks, blue eyes widening. "This place is so cool."

The child's wonder doesn't last too long, however, as he begins to cough, and Dave helps bend him over so that the fluid can find its way out.

"Pretty cool," Dave agrees, though no smile lights his face. The father knows that, if anything, they've come here to die — at least, perhaps, in peace.

When Delia winces visibly when she comes back into the room and sees its condition. "Let me make up beds for you guys, I don't know if the water's running but I can bring cases for you when I come back every day." She's not planning on taking the vehicle but one flat every day shouldn't be too cumbersome.

The sheets and blankets that are pulled from the bed are dusty from months of no use and the redhead coughs lightly into her shoulder, trying to keep the noise down as to not worry the boys' mother. The lack of windows in the place eases her worry about being found right away, counting on a lack of interesting the tiny place for the family's peace of mind.

"I'll make a small sign for the front door, warning people to stay away," she calls from the bedroom. "If you're alright with it, I can ask my doctor to come and take a look at you and tell me what I can do to help you along. I've only ever taken care of the other kind of flu… my kind." The hint is meant for the parents, to allow Anne to stop worrying that she might fall ill while keeping vigil over them.

Anne and Dave exchange a look over the children's heads, the hint taken. "Thank you. Don't go to too much trouble. We'll pay you for what you need to buy if…" The words trail off. It takes a great effort to call to the other room as it is for Anne, but what she has to say is too difficult to say in a whisper.

If we live.

"If we'd had more time evacuating, I would have thought to grab my purse. We have money… you could go back to the house and get it. My ATM card."

"No, no, you'll need that to restock your house. I've heard that this lasts a while so your milk might be rotten by the time you get back," Delia's voice sounds a little too chipper for what the family just went through. More spare linens and blankets are pulled from the cupboard after the one bedroom has been made up and she frowns, gauging the distance between there and the living room.

Without asking for help or permission, she places the heap next to the family on the couch and disappears behind the book case again. "I'm going to make up cots for the boys in the bedroom with you," she calls from the hidden room. "That way you guys can be close to each other all the time. I'll call Jaiden in the morning and see what we can do for hot water… though cold might be the best for now. I can bring some herbs and things from the apothecary, they'll help. I can mix up teas and things for you to make when I'm not here. You'll be right as rain in no time."

Anne stares down at the sleeping face of the little boy resting on her lap, reaching to brush damp brown curls out of his eyes. "Thank you so much. We will repay you. Somehow," she promises again, looking to her husband who nods before closing his eyes again. It's only a moment before he is asleep again, his chest whistling with congestion as it rises and falls, Jamie's head rising and falling with it. Soon, all but Anne are asleep.

She whispers to herself while Delia works, a prayer for herself, her husband, her sons. Let them survive this so they can pay back this debt they owe.

Smoothing out the last blanket over the cot, Delia surveys her handiwork with her hands on her hips. The room is a little crowded with two cots and the large bed, hopefully big enough for when the two boys inevitably crawl in with their parents.

When she returns to the living room, she frowns first at the sound of Dave's breathing and then glances toward Anne. "I'll bring some vaporub too, it'll ease up a little bit of that rattling." Reaching over, she lifts Jamie gently from the man's lap and carries him toward the bedroom.

Jamie's arms loop loosely around Delia's neck, and he snuggles close, eyes fluttering a little as if he wants to open them but hasn't the strength. He's much too light for his height; his face is the sort that is round, cherubic even, even while underweight. In her arms, however, she can feel his thin frame, the ribs countable through the light pajamas.

"Can you bring us coloring books?" he asks in a small voice without opening his eyes.

Her arms squeeze lightly around his thin body before she lays him down in the cot, not going so far as to plant a kiss on his forehead though it does seem appropriate. Instead her hand moves to brush a shaggy bit of raven hair that's glued itself to his skin and she smiles at the boy.

"Anything you want, I'll bring it to you. Do you have a favorite soup or ice cream? I need to know what to bring you so you can get better." Their voices are a little too quiet for his mother to hear from her place in the other room, giving Delia a little peace of mind that she's not overstepping her boundaries.

He curls into a ball, snuggling the pillow. "I like chicken with stars, but Mitch, he likes the alphabets 'cause he's just learning his ABCs," says the sleepy, husky voice of the sick child. "And we like any ice cream I think. Strawberry's my favorite and Mitch likes chocolate so we usually get napolean. You know, the stripey one."

He coughs into the pillow; he's not so bad yet, not as bad as his mother and father and little brother. The white case is tinged a little with some pink, but it could be worse. "Sleepy," he murmurs, wiping his mouth. "Oh, and I like Transformers but Mitch still likes little kid things to color. Mickey Mouse and Nemo and stuff."

"Strawberry and chocolate, you got it," Delia whispers, bringing a towel to the boy's lips to dab away the blood. "Coloring books and soup with stars and soup with alphabets." The list is repeated for his sake more than her own, such small request.

When the boy finally drifts off to sleep, the redhead returns to the living room and nudges Dave's shoulder with her hand. "Come on, there's a bed for you. It's comfortable… one of those expensive pillow tops," said to entice both he and Anne to the bedroom and somewhere a little better suited for illness. Once again, she uses her own body as a crutch while transporting him toward the other room. She pauses and glances back to Anne, raising her eyebrows to the woman. "I can bring Mitch if you want to come along and get Dave comfortable."

The mother’s eyes open at Delia’s words, and she nods, but when she starts to put Mitch on the sofa beside her, he clings all the tighter. She can’t help but smile, and he’s small enough she can still carry him and herself. It’s a slow process to rise, with him holding on, but the two soon make their way into the room. Her eyes take in the bed and cots, and tears well up inside of them.

“This is amazing. Thank you,” she says quietly, her voice husky and thick before she coughs to clear it. “Look, it’s like being in a hotel, Mitchy,” Anne tells the small boy, carrying him to the empty cot and lying him down on top of it.

“We can’t thank you enough,” she repeats herself, a tear slipping down her cheek.

Once Dave is seated on the side of the bed, Delia goes to relieve Anne of the tiny burden that is Mitch. "Don't think anything of it, just rest and get better. Once you're all comfortable, I'll bring some extra wet cloths in a bucket of water. You can use them on your heads tonight to keep the fevers down." She tucks the smaller boy in and then checks on the sleeping one again. Perching at the the edge of his cot, she turns her attention to Anne and gives her a small smile.

"I'll check on you guys all night, just to make sure you're all still okay." At first, she pauses not readily going to explain how she's going to do it from so far but after lifting one shoulder in a shrug she gives the woman a little bit of a smile. She averts her eyes to the tear, feeling a little uncomfortable in the wake of the woman’s gratitude. "They call me an oneiromancer, a dream walker."

Dave is out almost immediately once he lies down, but Anne sits on the edge of Mitch’s bed, staring at her hands when Delia explains her ability. “Oh,” she says with a nod of understanding, though it has that edge of fear that people often have in their voices discussing the unknown.

“That’s fine,” she adds softly, reaching to stroke Mitch’s hair back once more, then getting up to bend over Jamie’s curled up form, kissing his forehead once before making her way to the larger bed.

“I — we don’t know anyone like you except Georgia, on the street,” she says quietly. The one that locked them in — not that Anne or Dave know as much. “I’m glad you can’t get sick like us, at least. It makes me feel better.” She offers a shaky smile as she tucks her feet into the blankets and finally rests her head on the pillow. Her eyes half-lid; she’s the only one who hasn’t napped since their escape.

"You don't have anything to worry about, not here, just concentrate on getting better." It's an offer she was given a half a year ago and Delia's extending it to the family. Tomorrow or the next day, she'll try to get a hold of the owner of the apartment but in the meantime, she just concentrates on keeping her word to them.

The bucket is brought in, filled with cold water and fluffy white cloths that belong to Jaiden. Extras are laid across their foreheads and the adults are tucked in by the young nurse as well. "Have a good sleep, I'll be here in the morning with breakfast." Not that she's expecting any of them to be hungry but she's certain that Anne and Dave at least understand the importance of keeping up what little strength they have.

Within moments, Delia is gone and the apartment locked up as tightly as it was when Jaiden was still living in it.

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