Raising Grey: Chapter 17—I Know Those People Personally

I posted a chapter of Golden this week. Be sure to go and check it out.

I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the saga continues…

Chapter 17—I Know Those People Personally

ANASTASIA

“I did everything he asked me to. I wanted him to be proud of me.”

Val and Elliot have gone to bed and Burt and I retire to the patio after dinner for a talk about his feelings after his father attacked him. The scars on his face aren’t horrendous, but they’re certainly noticeable. He has to have some serious dental work for the teeth that his father knocked out. Right now, he’s trying to make sense of the whole thing.

“I wish I knew why he did it,” he says, sadly. “I wish I knew why he attacked me. I didn’t do anything wrong. I got off the plane, I walked down the gangplank and I saw him waiting for me at the gate. He was already mad, probably because we decided to go to Seattle in the first place. I asked where Mom was, he asked where Nollie was. As soon as I said she wasn’t coming back, his face changed in a second. I was about to explain what I knew, but the next thing you know, I see lightning, then pain, then lights out.”

He rubs his jaw and I’m assuming that’s where Freeman hit him that he can remember. They even had to cut some of his hair to put stitches in his scalp.

“I woke up in the hospital. I didn’t even know what happened. I thought it was an earthquake or something fell on me or I was hit from behind… I didn’t think for a second that Dad…” His voice cracks when he says the word.

“I only wanted him to be proud of me,” he says, crying now. “I’ve played this thing over and over and over in my head, and I don’t know what I did to deserve this! Yeah, I’m gay, but he already knew that. So, what changed? What made him do this to me?”

“Burt, you may never get the answer to that question, and even if you could, would you want to hear it? What could your father possibly say to you that would make this situation any better? What could he possibly say that could make you understand his motives?” I ask.

“I don’t know, but it would give me closure,” he claims.

“No, Burt, it wouldn’t. It would piss you off. Think about this, and I’m not trivializing what you’ve gone through, but the concept is the same. A girl finds out that her man has cheated on her with four other girls. She’s crying and begging to know, “Why did you do this to me?’ but she doesn’t really want to know. If he broke down all the reasons why he is a lying, cheating piece of scum, it still wouldn’t make her feel any better. What she’s really asking is, ‘How could he do this to her?’ She loves him, she’s been faithful, she has been and done everything she thought he wanted and he was still unfaithful to her. How could he? How could he do this to her?

“But it’s still a rhetorical question. What answer could he give to her that would ease her hurt and satisfy her sense of betrayal? Nothing. What could Freeman say to you right now that would make you sigh and say, ‘At least I know?’ Any answer he gave you for what he did to you would piss you off even more.

“‘I attacked you because I was angry at Nollie.’ So, Nollie didn’t do what you wanted her to do and you attacked me?

“‘I attacked you because you’re gay. Yes, you’re perfect in every other way in my eyes, but this one and it pisses me off.’ So, instead of taking me somewhere and talking to me about it years ago when I came out to you, you attack me in the middle of a crowded, public airport so badly that now I need false teeth?

“‘I don’t know why I attacked you. I just snapped.’ So, of all the things that you could have done, that you were even thinking of doing at that moment, attacking me and nearly killing me was the most prevalent, and when you snapped, that’s what jumped into your head? Beat the hell outta Burtie?

“Tell me, Burt, which one of those scenarios would give you any closure? Which one of those would make you feel any better? Oh, there’s one more. ‘I’m just a psychotic asshole who’s angry at the world and you were the closest thing to hit.’ How about that one? Which one of those will make you feel better?”

“I wanted him to love me!” Burt exclaims. “That’s all I wanted. I just wanted him to love me! And I thought he did! I loved him!” Burtie is sobbing now and I put my arm around his shoulder.

“We can’t help who we love,” I tell him. “And you’re supposed to love him. He’s your father. Man, I could tell you some stories about my mother that would make your hair curl,” I say, dropping my head for a moment and going back to that young girl who just wanted her mother to love her. “But I still loved her, even though she was a self-centered sow, I still wanted her to love me.”

“Did she beat you?” he asks, turning his head to me. I sigh.

“No, she didn’t beat me,” I say, trying to keep my voice from cracking, “but it probably would have been better if she had. At least, that pain goes away after a while,” I add, dropping my head.

“You said, ‘was,’” he says. “‘She was a self-centered sow…’ Is she dead?” I raise my head and look out at a clear blue starry night and think about the possibility of her protesting Ray’s adoption of me.

“She is, to me,” I say, before turning back to Burt. “I don’t know if she has me listed as her next of kin, but when she dies, I’ll go to Vegas, clean up her affairs, bury her, then leave.”

“Wow,” he says, wiping his eyes. “That’s pretty damn cold.” I twist my lips to fight the tears.

“Yeah, well, she was pretty damn cold to me,” I say, ending the sentence on a whisper. “I wanted to die. I thought I would. I thought the pain from everything—mental and physical—would swallow me up and take me to hell. Instead, I just held on, pressed on through, and here I am.” I so want to get off this topic.

“Physical… you said she didn’t beat you,” he presses. I won’t recount this.

“I can’t relive this right now,” I say, nearly choking on my words, “but I was beaten… and I was conscious for most of it. When it was over, I was comatose for three weeks. When I awoke, all I wanted was my mom. When it was happening, all I wanted was my mom… but she didn’t care. She was then and still is a self-serving, heartless bitch!” I spit the words out while fighting the tears, one escaping anyway. I quickly wipe it away.

“I healed a bit through helping other people with their problems. I was able to overcome the constant pain, but there are still some remnants.” I sniff and wipe away another tear that has fallen. “I speak from experience when I say that if he tells you why he did what he did, it’s not going to bring you closure. It’s only going to piss you off. She was 100% honest with me as to why she was the way that she was during those years—why she was so cold and heartless and why she did the things that she did, and it didn’t bring me closure. It pissed me off and it hurt even more. I paid her to leave and never come back and I cried and cried and cried, and then I had to just let go.

“Without her confession, I could have just let go. I could have told her how I felt and then I could have just let go, and you can do that in a letter or an email. No, I had to hear it. I had to let her break my heart all over again and what did it bring me? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“When did you have this conversation with your mother?” he asks.

“Early last year,” I tell him. “And to answer the unasked question, the beating was over ten years ago.” He sighs.

“So, I may never get an answer to this question.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“Even if you do, I don’t think it would help,” I say. “In my professional—and personal opinion, it would do more harm than good.” He nods and looks out at the stars. I gaze out at them with him, thinking about those nights I spent in that bed praying for God to either make time go faster so that I could hurry up and get out of there or praying for death to end my suffering. Either one would have sufficed. I cried so many nights, so many tears, and I can even hear myself crying now—painful, mournful sobs that screamed for relief from the hell I was in… only, my cries were silent and stymied, not loud and mournful like this.

Who’s crying?

Burt sits up in his seat and we see Christian’s head moving and hear a woman wailing.

“Mom! What is he doing to my mom?” Burt leaps from the seat and bursts into the family just as Nollie makes her way over to Christian and Nell. I’m right on Burt’s heels as I see Christian cradling Nell in his arms while she’s sobbing mournfully. I know that hold. She’ssimba-lion-king-6 broken and he’s trying to hold her together. I grasp Burt’s arm and try to help him focus, as he has that “Simba—Lion King” look in his eye.

“Look,” I say softly. “Look at them.” He blinks a few times and watches as Christian holds his mother, rocking her gently and stroking her hair, trying to soothe her with an occasional, “Sssh.” Burt’s gaze softens immediately and he closes his hand over mine. He needs support? Solidarity? I don’t know.

“Mommy?” he says softly as he breaks from my grasp. He falls on his knees in front of his mother, his arms resting on her thighs. “It’s going to be okay, Mommy,” he says, his eyes filling with tears. “It’s going to take a while, but we’ll be happy again. I promise.”

Nell continues to cry into Christian’s chest as she reaches for her son’s hand. He kisses her hand hard and presses it against his cheek while he cries. Christian’s hand has moved to Nell’s back and Nollie has taken over stroking her hair, weeping along with her mother and brother. I make my way over to Leo, who is holding a cooing Minnie Mouse while watching his wife in mourning.

“This is so hard for her,” he says. “I hate to see her like this.” I take a seat next to him.

“I really wish you all had informed us that you planned to stop overnight in Seattle,” I tell him. “There was no need to book rooms at the Fairmont. We have more than enough room here.” He gazes at his wife and sighs.

“If that offer is still good, I’d like to take you up on it. I think it would be better for them to stay here than to try to get them back to the hotel.” He turns questioning eyes to me and I smile.

“You’re a good man, Leo,” I say patting his shoulder. “I’ll have our security staff go and get your things.” He shakes his head.

“That won’t be necessary,” he says. “One of my men is still at the hotel. I’ll have him shut down the rooms and check out… but thank you.”

“What about the cost of the rooms?” I ask. “I’ll be happy to reimburse you…”

“You’re too kind,” he says. “You’ve already let us use the jet. It would have been a nightmare getting their things properly shipped to California. Now, you’re opening your home to us… and look at that.” He gestures to Christian basically holding the family together. “They need that so much right now. Don’t worry about the rooms… it’s only money. She’s worth so much more.” I sigh heavily as I watch my husband do something he couldn’t do when I first met him.

“We’ve got big responsibilities, Leonardo,” I say, looking adoringly at my husband. “We’ve married into a very tight-knit family. Except for one lone asshole, I’ve never seen a family stick together like this… not even my own.”

“Well, on that note, I’m lucky,” he says. “My family is extremely close, and they love Lanie. So, I think we’ll be very happy together and quiet as it’s kept…” He leans in to me. “I have a cousin in the Bay area who came to visit me in Farmington when Lanie and I first started getting serious. He met Burt while we were there and has had a crush on him ever since. I told him what happened with Burt and Freeman and that Burt is on his way to California, and he’s waiting on baited breath for Burt to get there.” I smile at Leo.

“You’re a matchmaker?” I tease. He chuckles.

“No, nothing like that,” he says. “I just know he has a crush on Burt, so I told him that Burt was coming. I hope Burt doesn’t mind. I’m not trying to hook them up, but I want him to at least have a friend when he gets to Cali.” He looks back at the family. “Nell is going to be a different story.”

I can imagine that she is. You don’t stay with someone for decades and just watch them mistreat your daughter without a reason. Either she was afraid or she loved that man something fierce despite his obvious shortcomings. Either way, she’s got some massive deprogramming and some hard nights ahead of her. I turn to Gail, who is still holding Mikey and trying to give the Greys as much privacy as she can under the circumstances.

“I’ll take him,” I tell her and hold my hands out for my son. “Can you please get the rooms ready if it’s not too much trouble? They’re going to stay tonight.”

“It’s no trouble at all,” she says as she deposits Mikey into my hands. “Keri, I know it’s not part of your job, but…”

“Nawnsense!” Keri says softly, her accent flowing hard on the word. “I’ll be glad to help.”

While they head off to get the rooms ready, Leo holds a cooing Minnie in one hand and his phone is the other, giving instructions to someone to bring their things to Grey Crossing. I reach in my boob and grab my phone, texting Jason that Leo’s security will be bringing their things and to make sure they can get into the gate.

“Hello, my handsome man,” I say to my son as I put my phone away. “There’s Mommy’s little boy.” Mikey coos and kicks his feet happily in my lap. I sit him in the corner of the sofa and get on my knees on the floor in front of him.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…” I sing and clap, then wait for my little man to follow. He smiles and claps wildly. I repeat the line and his hands clap wildly again, causing him to fall forward a bit on the sofa.

“If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it…” I tickle his little stomach and he giggles madly, his hands flailing and patting the sofa cushion.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” He doesn’t clap this time, but his hands are still flailing and he’s still giggling.

“If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet…” I lift his little feet and push them up against my cheeks. My son giggles wildly again. I repeat the line and the gesture, eliciting another giggle from him. By the time I get to the last line, I do a raspberry on his feet and his laughing becomes a bit maniacal.

“If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘hurray!’” I wave my fingers and stretch the word out so that my little boy knows he should repeat it. He repeats something—it wasn’t “hurray,” but it was something.

“If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘hurray!’” By now, he’s reaching for me, babbling whatever word he’s picked that’s supposed to mean, “hurray.’”

“If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it. If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘hurray!’” On the last “hurray,” I pick up my little bundle and snuggle him to my face. He giggles and pats my face as I shower kisses on his chubby little cheeks. I love my baby boy. He’s coming into his teething phase now that Minnie has cut her first few and is past the worst of it. I try to keep him bubbly and distracted since it’s such a trying time for them. So far, Mikey isn’t having such a bad time of it as Minnie did, knock wood and thank God, but he still has some discomfort.

“Who loves you? Who loves that baby boy?” I coo at my son. It’s not until now that I realize that every eye in the room is trained on me, from Nell sniffling in Christian’s arms to Minnie quietly slipping off to sleep in Leo’s lap.

“What?” I say, coyly.

*-*

“I can’t begin to thank you for all your kindness,” Nell says as we’re walking arm in arm to the car on Saturday morning. “After my last visit here with Freeman…” She trails off and shakes her head. “The next few months will be… interesting.”

“They won’t be easy, Nell, but you’ll get through them. I promise. Just… lean on your family, okay?” She smiles at me and squeezes my hand.

“I will… and it’s Aunt Nellie.” I return her smile.

“Aunt Nellie,” I repeat, kissing her on the cheek before she hugs me and gets into the cat.

“Now, it’s your turn to come down to California and let us show you some hospitality,” Leo says as he exits the house with his wife and my husband. “Maybe we’ll go to Napa. Have you ever been on the Wine Train?” Christian and I throw knowing looks at each other.

“In fact, we have,” he replies. “We loved it.”

“Well, then, we’ll plan something else, but you guys have to come down. I want you to see where we are, maybe take a tour of the company.”

“I’d like that very much,” Christian says, extending his hand to Leo. “Take care of yourself and take care of my cousins… and my aunt. We’ll see you soon.” Leo smiles and shakes Christian’s hand.

“Without a doubt. Thanks again for everything.” Leo gets into the car and Christian turns to Lanie, as I discovered everyone is calling her now.

“It’s your time, cousin,” he says, taking both of her hands. “It’s time to be happy.”

“I have everything now,” she says, her smile wide. “I have all the loves of my life with me. I couldn’t be happier.”

“Yes, you can,” Christian retorts. “Now, go do it.” She throws her arms around him and he doesn’t even flinch when he returns the embrace.

“Thank you, Christian,” she says, her voice cracking. “I was beginning to lose hope in people… until I met you and Ana.” She kisses him on the cheek and releases him as Burt walks over to me. I smile at him, reaching up to cup his face like a child.

“Your sister loves you so much,” I tell him. “She thinks the world of you. She calls you ‘the perfect child,’ and she’s serious. She’ll do anything in this world to protect you. I just thought you should know.”

“I know,” he says with a shy smile. “I’ve always known. She’s always looked out for me. Even now…” He trails off and smiles sadly.

“Look ahead,” I say softly. “Don’t look back. All you need to take with you from this experience is that it’s not your fault. None of this happened because of you.” He sighs heavily.

“It’s going to be tough coming to grips with this, but I believe you.” He hugs me and I kiss him on his cheek.

“You be happy, too. Okay?” I say. He nods and Christian puts his hand on Burt’s shoulder.

“Never let anything or anybody stop you from being who you are. Life is too short to live a lie,” Christian tells him. Burt fights to hold back his tears.

“Thank you, Christian,” he says, his voice cracking. “I know my family has thanked you a thousand times, but… there are no words, man.” Christian nods.

“We’ll see you when we get down there, okay?” Burt nods. He’s a gentle soul and has broken down many times since he’s been here. Healing is going to be tough for him. He gets into the car and closes the door behind him. Christian and I stand in front of the house as we watch the rental round the driveway and exit the gates. He exhales heavily as if he were holding his breath.

“I don’t understand how anybody could hurt that kid,” he says. It sounds strange to me since Burt is not much younger than me. “I can’t even see how he could do something so horrible to his own son… his own flesh and blood.” I look up at him and he’s still staring at the gate where the car just exited.

“Are you okay?” I ask, putting my hand flat on his stomach. He nods.

“Yeah, but now I need ‘normal,’ like right now.” He grabs my hand and leads me back into the house.

About an hour later, I and my husband, our twins, our nannies, little Miss Sophie, and about four bodyguards dressed in very casual clothing are strolling around Woodland Park Zoo. The guys brought a couple of wagons to carry the truckload of items that we brought from the house to make our day more enjoyable. We really didn’t need the nannies, but Christian thought it would be nice for Gail and Keri to come along since Jason and Chuck are there. Elliot and Val decided not to join us. Even though Rebe and Tate are in attendance to help guard the twins, it looks more like an outing of friends than the Greys and their entourage going to the zoo.

And would you believe it? It worked!

Since we came in the west entrance, the first thing we see is the penguin exhibit. There’s a whole line of them on the bank across the water in the exhibit and Minnie goes absolutely bonkers. She’s just babbling and pointing like any of us knows what she’s saying. Her feet are just kicking and her brother looks over at her as if to say, “Yo, sis, chill out.” Two of the penguins are staring at each other like a standoff at the O.K. Corral and a third actually comes and pushes one of them away. I can imagine him saying, “Just walk away, bro, just walk away.”

One of the penguins is standing on one of the higher cliffs with his arms outstretched, holding a deep mellow note for a long time before taking a breath and crooning again. I can’t help but think about the songs of the penguin from Happy Feet. While I’m paying attention to the crooning penguin, Christian’s camera—the same one from the playroom—is snapping away, but not at me. I look down to see what he’s photographing and our daughter is reaching out of her stroller as far as she can for a very large penguin who has jumped into the water and swam right up to the glass in front of her.

And he taps on the glass with his beak!

“Are they trained?” I ask Christian. He shrugs at me from behind his camera.

“I don’t know,” he says, following his shrug.

We could have spent the entire day there watching the penguins swim and frolic and play—and stand off—as far as Minnie was concerned, but there’s a lot more zoo to see.

The next exhibit is right up my alley. My obsession with all things butterfly since my husband adopted the nickname for me means that I spend quite a bit of time in Molbak’s Butterfly Garden, which is sensationally beautiful and educational. We’re lucky, because the butterfly habitat only opens for the summer, so we wouldn’t have had much more time to enjoy these pretty little things.

They fly everywhere, freely in this exhibit. There is various flora in the tent to make them feel at home, so they just flutter from flower to tree to plant. One of them even landed on Keri.

In a glass casing, there are several species of larvae and cocoon and as I was reading about each one, I hear Sophie’s voice.

“Ms. Ana, look at this one!” she says in amazement. I follow her gaze and look on the second row of the larva exhibit… and one of them has “hatched.”

“Christian!” I whisper his name as loud as I can without drawing attention to him. He comes over to me and I point to the butterfly hanging protectively on its cocoon. He smiles at me and takes a picture.

“Look, Butterfly, here’s another one,” he says before snapping a picture. Sophie and I look to where he’s pointing and a beautiful orange one has “hatched” and is hanging onto its cocoon. It almost looks like a monarch, but not quite.

“Look, here,” he says, pointing to a third that looks just like the first one—large brownish wings with large white spots all over and hints of orange.  I look behind me at my baby girl and she has her hands palm up, opening and closing her fists as if beckoning the butterflies to come to her. Mikey is more attentive now, sitting up in the stroller and watching the butterflies as well. None of them come to her like the penguin did, which is a good thing. She might have tried to eat them.

Our next stop is the Tropical Rainforest Aviary, where the tropical birds and monkeys are. I’m enjoying the beautiful birds in the first two exhibits when I hear my husband’s voice.

“Hey, baby, come look at this.”

I’m admiring the white-tailed trogon when my husband drags my attention to the next exhibit. I let out a small yelp and try not to jump out of my skin.

It’s a fucking neon green snake.

“Oh, my God,” I gasp after I’ve backed away from the glass, still holding my chest.

“What’s the matter? It just a snake,” he says chuckling at me. I throw a death glare at him. You think that shit was funny? “I want one,” he says, matter-of-factly.

“Not in my house!” The words are out of my mouth before I even realize that I’ve garnered some attention.

“Aaaawwww,” he whines. “C’mon, honeeeeey. Pleeeeease, can I have one?” Sophie is trying not to giggle. I’m going to kill him.

“Chri—” I stop before I say his name and draw more attention to us. “No.”

“What if I got one and put it in a room where you never even saw it?” he asks, half joking, half serious. I fold my arms.

“Go ahead. Bring a snake in the house,” I reply, facing off with him to the amusement of some of the onlookers.

“What would you do if I did that?” he says, smirking at me.

“Move out,” I announce firmly.

“Okay no snake,” he says without hesitation and moves on to the next exhibit.

“I’m glad we understand one anoth—oh God!” I draw more attention to us by nearly leaping into my husband’s arm when, in the next exhibit, a black and white-striped snake is somehow slithering up the glass, appearing to be right next to my face. My heart is racing and if I could meld into Christian’s skin, I definitely would right now.

“Okay… definitely no snake,” he says, softly while gently rubbing my arms.

“Look at the next exhibit, please,” I say, unable to hide the tremble in my voice. He wraps his arms around me and leans over to see what’s in the next exhibit.

“You’ll like this one,” he says, taking my hand and leading me to the glass. He was right. There’s a cute little orange furry thing in there.

“Ooooh, he’s cute!” I croon. “He looks like a tiny lion.”

“He is,” Christian says, pointing at the plaque. “It’s a Golden Lion Tamarin.”

I stand there looking at the grumpy-faced little golden monkey for a while and soon, all thoughts of the green python are forgotten.

In the next cage is a white-face saki monkey and let me tell you—that’s a face that only a mother could love. I don’t spend time looking at the strange little thing and just move on to the next exhibit, a large cage in the middle with several birds in it. Many of them hiding from sight for some reason, but we see a few. I hear Minnie cooing in the double stroller behind us while Mikey is just laid back and taking in the sights. To this day, I find myself secretly apologizing to my son for thinking that he was the lead soccer player in my belly when it’s crystal clear that the entire time, Minnie was the real hellion.

The large cage at the end was pay dirt, though, with several more tropical birds including a toucan. Finally, we’re allowed to go into an open aviary with a canopy where the birds can actually fly around the room around you and Minnie. Goes. Batshit. She would grab one of those suckers and take it home if she could.

We leave the aviary to visit the rest of the animals in the rainforest. The red ruffled lemurs didn’t feel like giving us a show, but the gorillas were an entirely different story. One big king gorilla sits high on a cliff in the back just watching over things while munching on carrots while a second gorilla comes right up to a rock near the glass and sits on it, looking at us like The Thinker, also munching on a carrot. A third smaller gorilla was determined to get the spotlight, rolling around in the grass and under a tree branch causing several of the small children in attendance to giggle wildly.

We leave the gorilla exhibit and get to the jaguar exhibit just in time to see the large tan and black cat take a sip from the stream. Mikey still watches with what can best be described as detached amusement while Minnie observes attentively as if the animal requires careful study.

“His coat is absolutely beautiful,” I say, “or her coat.” The jaguar finishes drinking from stream, crosses over, and begins to walk away from us.

“Noooooo, that’s a he,” Christians says definitively. “That’s definitely a he! Whoa!” I keep my laughter inside. I’ve got a feeling Christian got an eyeful of something that he didn’t really want to see.

“You sure about that, baby?” I tease.

“Without a doubt,” he retorts. “There was no mistaking that!” he says as he tries to shield Sophie’s inquisitive eyes. I can no longer hold in my laughter as we move on to the next section.

We see the flamingos to the right of us at the beginning of the Temperate Forest exhibit, but it appears that neither of the children were impressed with them. I think the flamingos were a bit too timid for their tastes. Several crows invade the space and the flamingos flap their long wings to shoo them away. A couple of ducks float into the area, but don’t seem to bother the flamingos. When I see Minnie yawn—most likely from boredom—I know it’s time to move on.

I’ve personally never seen a red panda before, so I thought the little guy was really cute, eating with his little hands. He’ll never get as big as the black and white panda, but he’s holding his own up in the trees of his exhibit. He’s red on top and black on the bottom. He looks like a really pretty fox and is about the size of a really large housecat with a big, fluffy tail that’s about as long as his body. Minnie perks up when she sees this little creature and can only point and say, “Oooooooo.”

The Bug exhibit was a definite “no” for me, as was the petting zoo. Christian tried his best to get me to go into the bug building, but I’m too damn heebie-jeebie to carry my ass in there. As much as Dr. Dolittle is aching to touch some furry little woodland creature, my six-month-old babies are getting nowhere near those germy animals in the petting zoo. We wait patiently, however, while Sophie, Gail, and Jason go inside to play with the goats. Keri is on hand the minute they emerge with baby wipes and hand sanitizer.

Go, Keri. I love that girl.

The first thing—or things—that catch our eye when we enter the African Savanna portion of the zoo are the giraffes. The African Savanna is a huge open habitat that you can view from just about any part of the zoo. So, across the grass, we see the zebras, the gazelle, and the guinea fowl. There’s a new baby giraffe in the giraffe exhibit, just released in the “savanna” as they call it. She apparently likes to play, but the gazelle and the guinea fowl are a little cool to her debut. There’s also another aviary in the Savanna, but the birds are a little too loud for the babies’ taste, so we didn’t stay in there for long. We briefly watch the hippos emerge and re-submerge in the water before we head over to the lions and the warthogs.

And Dr. Dolittle is alive and kicking again.

Minnie is animated once more as the lions roam around the habitat before the female settles in a grassy spot in the sun while the male finds his comfort in the shade. She’s nearly bouncing out of her seat, once again hoping to get behind the glass with the furry animals. Directly across from the lion exhibit, we find the warthogs. They’re both covered from head to toe in mud and fast asleep right next to one another.

“Look, Mikey,” Christian says, stooping down to his son whose eyes are fixed on the two lumps of mud in the exhibit. “It’s Timon.”

I think it’s cute that he remembers the characters from The Lion King, even though we just watched it with the twins about a week ago, but he’s got the characters confused.

“No, dear, that would be Pumbaa,” I correct him. He frowns.

“Are you sure?” he asks. “I thought Timon was the warthog.” I shake my head.

“No, darling. Pumbaa is the warthog. Timon is the meerkat.”

“That’s a meerkat?” he exclaims. I laugh aloud.

“What did you think he was?” Christian shrugs.

“I don’t know. I just didn’t know that he was a meerkat.” I shake my head and look down at Mikey.

“That’s Pumbaa, little prince, not Timon,” I tell him before kissing my husband on the cheek.

“Smart ass,” he mumbles under his breath.

“I heard that,” I retort playfully.

“I meant you to,” he jabs back.

We move on to the Tropical Asia exhibit where the warty pig downright resents our presence and won’t engage us at all. The tapir is a sight to behold, however. Ginormous black and white creature that I’ve never seen before and—much like the leopard—walked away from us so that we have no doubt what gender he is.

We move on to the next exhibit and find the Siamangs—southeast Asian apes. There are two of them and they’re sharing a heart-shaped popsicle. It’s kind of cute. They’re perched up on a rock and the popsicle is sitting on the rock between them. Minnie is blubbering something, as usual, hoping to draw their attention to the glass. They each pick at the popsicle and lick and eat the fruit inside the frozen treat. It’s obvious that they’re a couple, because they sit there and share like well-behaved children… not that the heart-shaped, fruit filled popsicle wasn’t a dead giveaway.

While Minnie and I are enjoying the Francois Langur Monkeys and the very friendly red orangutans, Christian is spellbound at something in a nearby exhibit. I walk over to him to see what he’s looking at.

“What’s got you so quiet?” I ask. He quickly grasps my arm and begins escorting me away before I even get to him.

“Weren’t you looking at the monkeys or something?” he asks, guiding me away from the exhibit. I jerk my arm away.

“What were you looking at?” I ask.

“You don’t want to see it,” he says, still trying to direct my attention elsewhere.

“How about I decide what I want to see and what I don’t want to see?” I chide, like a petulant child. The truth is, I’m just nosey. I just want to see what he was looking at.

“Butterfly, it’s a…” Too late. I get to the damn exhibit and there’s another fucking snake. Fucking ginormous fucking snake on the ground, long as fuck and fat as fuck and I can just see it eating me or some other poor soul. I’m so scared, I could shit my pants. Serves me right. I literally run out of the exhibit onto the boardwalk just over the orangutans. Christian catches me about twenty feet outside of “snake world,” and I’m shaking again.

“I tried to tell you, Butterfly,” he says, pulling me back into his arms and holding my shaking body against his.

“You really want a fucking snake?” I nearly shriek, but manage to keep my voice down. If he really wants one, he’s going to find a way to get one. He’s a damn billionaire!

“I wasn’t even looking at the snake; I was looking at his stats,” he defends. “I saw it, I saw that it was a huge motherfucker and I just wanted to see how huge they get.” I shake my head.

“What was that thing?” I ask.

“Indian Rock Python,” he responds.

“Do I even want to know how big that fucker is… or how big it can get?” I ask.

“No,” he says, then he cups my face in his hand. “No snakes. I promise.”

He was reading my mind.

“I think it’s time for lunch,” Gail says as she walks past us with the double stroller. Christian puts his arm around me and follows Gail. Christian stops before we get to the next exhibit.

“How are you with komodo dragons?” he asks. I shrug.

“They’re just big lizards,” I reply. Gail has already passed the komodo dragons, so we don’t spend much time looking at the big lizard. However, she’s compelled to stop when Minnie goes nuts at the next exhibit.

Meerkats. Adorable little meerkats standing on their hind legs looking at us.

“Look, Mikey. It’s… Timon,” Christian says, still holding my hand. I laugh and elbow him in the side. He got it right this time.

We cut between the Tropical Asia and the Australaisa exhibits and to get to the North Meadow where we’ve decided to have our lunch. On our way past the tiger cage, we watch the three brothers fight over a felled pine branch. Then we watch the Asian otters play in the water and groom each other. We get to the North Meadow around three in the afternoon and set up our picnic. There’s a lot of room on the manicured lawn as no one really wants to be out in the sun this afternoon. However, our boy scout men had the foresight to bring the large umbrellas along for just such an emergency.

I cover myself and allow Minnie to latch on while Christian lovingly feeds me finger foods from the picnic basket. Mikey takes a bottle with ease that has been thawed to room temperature during our walk. We see a few people nearby throw distasteful looks at me for breastfeeding in public, but I don’t care. I have every right to feed my child whenever she’s hungry and even though I could whip a tit out right in their faces and there’s not a damn thing they could do to stop me, I consider others when I breastfeed in public and cover myself and my baby with a receiving blanket.

I’m okay until one couple just keeps glaring at us. The man finally makes a comment to his significant other about my breastfeeding and before I have a chance to retort, Christian turns around and calmly lets loose.

“State law dictates that she can breastfeed my children anywhere that you can eat a piece of pizza. If you don’t like it, contact your state legislature… and stop glaring at my wife!”

Apparently, the thought of shaming a breastfeeding mother was fine with this asshole. However, the idea of going toe-to-toe with her over-protective, control-freak husband isn’t so appealing. He narrows his eyes at Christian, but never says another word. Instead, he and his companion gather their things and leave the area. We’re surprised to hear a small applause from a few other families as they leave.

We’ve enjoyed our lunch and our babies are napping in their covered stroller while Christian and I enjoy an ice-cream cone under an umbrella and Jason and Gail take Sophie to the carousel. There’s a small bit of canoodling going on between my husband and me before we move on to the final two exhibits.

4028ba3be392ea552548707decc0d89bWe’re advised by zoo staff to skip the bird feeding house as the birds are uncontained and swoop down onto people for food. They’re justifiably concerned for the twins, but I so want to tell them that little Elmira here might grab one of the poor birds and love it to death. Nonetheless, we skip the bird feeding and go through the Willawong Station instead.

As if it knows that she wouldn’t want to miss what’s next, some bird swoops down right out of a tree and smacks hard face first into the glass right in front of Minnie’s side of the stroller. The loud “thump” even startles me and Christian, and Minnie’s eyes jolt open and she starts to cry. Keri quickly retrieves her and puts her binky in her mouth, hoping to get her back to sleep. But that same asshole bird throws his head in the air and lets out a call of the wild that I always thought came from a monkey, but now I know that it was this damn bird all along.

And both of my children are awake and crying now.

I take Mikey out of the stroller and give him his binky. He’s immediately silent and observing the bird who broke his slumber as if he would reach into the exhibit, grab the feathery little bastard and twist its scrawny little neck.

“I’m with you, Mikey,” I say as I throw a dirty look at the bird. In all honesty, I can imagine that Dr. Dolittle over there called to him in her sleep and he was just trying to get to her when he slammed into the window. That tortured call he did moments ago was probably him screaming profanities at the bird gods for allowing him to slam into the glass in the first place.

The last exhibit at the end of the open-ended Willawong Station is the wallaroo room. Wallaroos are large Australian kangaroos and there are three pretty big ones inside the exhibit, but they’re all lounging on the floor and the rocks with their backs to us, staring at the sunlight shining through the opening that leads outside.

“Geez, some of these animals are really diva today, aren’t they?” I say to Keri, recalling that a few of the other animals either retreated to the shadows or turned their butts to us completely when we came to their exhibits. She snickers as she pats Minnie on the back. I’ve been having a lot of Look Who’s Talking moments with my children and the animals today, and right now, I’m imagining the kangaroos sitting in these lounging positions saying, “I vant to be alone… I just vant to be alone,” like Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel. Minnie has turned her attention to the glass and Keri catches her binky just as it falls out of her mouth when she opens it to demand the attention of the lounging wallaroos, but even the animal whisperer can’t get them to turn around.

Just outside the exhibit in the open air are more wallaroos along with a few emus. These joeys are small, most likely the babies of the ones inside. The emus are pretty large and they put on a strutting show for us, but like their parents, the joeys just sit around uninterested in the zoo goers.

Into the Northern Trail we go, the last exhibit on the trail, and the first thing we see are the gray wolves. Now the warty pigs weren’t much to look at, but the gray wolves make up for that! They frolic in the water, then get out and roll around in the leaves in the shade—probably to keep cool since the sun is in full force today. I’m looking past the wolves at the elk in the enclosure behind the wolf exhibit, and my attention is drawn back to the wolves. For whatever reason, four wolves are now clustered together howling all at the same time, like a barbershop quartet—and Mikey is spellbound. I’m sure that at any moment, he’s going to stand up in his stroller and start howling with them. In fact, he begins to make some sort of cooing sound that indicates that he’s trying to do just that!

We come to the grizzly bear exhibit and once again, Minnie is in love. Although these things are ginormous, they’re pretty docile right now as they lounge around their “pool” enjoying ice treats to keep cool in the heat. The ice treats are frozen salads made of lettuce, watermelon, pineapple and frozen fish. The pool is also stocked with trout so that the bears can hunt and eat. Pool is a relative word, though—it’s more like a bear park with rocks and cliffs and a small waterfall and lake all their own and they really look adorable chomping on their ice treats.

We get to the otter exhibit just in time for the trout activity. Otters move very quickly under the water, so when live trout are released into the “pool,” they actually play with them for a while. They swim around and chase them and when they catch them, they don’t eat them right away. Instead, they release them again so that they can chase them some more. Then, when they’ve worked up an appetite, they stop chasing and eat them.

This was a bit too surprising for little Miss Minnie.

She loved watching the otters glide around the pool and chase the fish. She laughed and reached for the glass as she watched them flow effortlessly through the water. However, when the first otter tired and ate the first fish, she fell silent. She turned her attention to me as if to say, “Why he do that?” I don’t think anything of it until the second otter does the same thing, and my little animal rights activist turns to me again as if to say, “Mom! Do something!” Sorry, Minnie. I can’t jump in and save the fish, though I do bring Minnie’s expression to Christian’s attention, indicating that I think she’s had enough of the trout activity.

Glorious and majestic as it was, the yellow-beaked sea eagle did nothing to improve Dr. Dolittle’s mood after the whole “trout torture” demonstration. The final exhibit on the trail is the amphibian and reptile exhibit… and I was having none of that.

“Oh, no, that’s not for me,” I say, avoiding the area all together.

“Me, eidah!” Keri quickly agrees, her accent thick in her denial as she vigorously shakes her head. Chuck takes her hand as I observe the disappointed faces of the other men.

“You guys go,” Chuck says. “I’ll stay here with the ladies.”

“What about the twins?” I ask concerned.

“No offense, baby, but the snakes give you the willies. Minnie’s just fine with them.” My husband kisses me on the cheek and takes Minnie from Keri and Mikey from me. Safe in Daddy’s arms, my twins disappear into the reptile exhibit. I tap Jason on the shoulder and he turns around.

“Get a picture of that for me,” I tell him, “… without any snakes.” He chuckles and nods, giving me a thumbs up as he, Gail, and Sophie disappear behind Christian and the twins along with the other members of the security team.

“So, what do you hear from Anguilla these days?” I ask Keri as we wait for the rest of our party to emerge. We talk about her students and how her friend Tawni keeps her up to date on what’s going on with them. She admits to getting a little homesick sometimes, but not enough to ever return without her Choonks. It’s clear to see that they’re desperately in love with each other… an island fling that turned into a lifelong commitment. It’ll only be a matter of time before Chuck proposes… again.


CHRISTIAN

It was a good day.

I enjoyed myself immensely at the zoo with my family. There’s no use calling any of them anything else. Both of the men that are contracted to protect me and my wife have put their lives on the line to save ours—literally. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for either of them, so they—and their significant others—are part of our family.

I don’t see much of Sophie these days and she’s probably off doing whatever young tweens do these days, but watching her enjoy her day at the zoo gave me a bit of satisfaction as well. I have no idea how her childhood has gone with that sorry excuse of a mother that she’s had, but she appears to be a bit more sociable now than she was when she first came to live with us.

The amount of snuggling at the dinner table informs me that the outing was just what everyone needed today and the night will be quite amorous for us all. I waste no time in tasting of my gorgeous wife once we’ve put our exhausted twins down for the night.

She feels so good as I fuck her from behind in her shower. As far as showers go, we usually fuck in mine, but I couldn’t wait for her to finish her shower before I got my hands on her. My dick gets so hard and so thick inside of her that I can barely pull it out to stroke. Grasping her tits with her hands under mine also grasping her tits, I plunge inside of her getting maximum stimulation as her ass swallows me and burns me with each thrust. Fuck, this is so fucking good that I almost can’t stand it. In fact, I get the perfect angle inside of her and my face is right in the water, so I can’t breathe in.

No matter. This shit is too good to fucking move now.

I get a little light-headed from the asphyxiation factor of holding my breath, wouldn’t you know it—it heightens my sexual arousal causing my dick to throb and pulse with added excitement. I come so hard that I lose my footing and have to slide down the wall behind me in the shower. I’m panting and sputtering, thinking how fucking fantastic that orgasm was while taking my wife with me to the floor…

“Christian! Christian! Oh, God, Christian!”

I hear Butterfly’s frantic voice, but it sounds like she’s far away. I open my eyes and realize that I’m still on the floor in her shower leaning against the wall. When I come to, my wife is slapping me wildly on the face, trying to rouse me. I cough the water out of my throat and try to lift my head. I’m still dizzy.

“Oh, thank God!” I hear her sob. She leans into my chest, weeping and I wrap my arms around her with all the strength I can muster.

“I’m… sorry…” I choke. “I didn’t mean… to scare you.”

She continues to weep. She’s inconsolable. With the water in my mouth, somehow, I lost consciousness and stopped breathing… and scared the living shit out of her. She manages to compose herself enough to get us off the floor and out of the shower. She helps me to our room and lays me on the bed. I’m sopping wet…

And she’s still crying.

She gets several towels, wrapping one around her body and another around her head. She uses two more to begin to dry my body and hair. Then she gets a T-shirt and pulls it over my head, nothing else, just a T-shirt.

And she’s still crying.

She puts on a nightshirt and her hair is still sopping wet. She instructs me to sit up against the headboard, which I do, and she puts a pillow behind me.

“Cough,” she says between sobs, so I do. She’s patting me on various parts of my chest, like she’s burping one of the children, but harder.

“Cough,” she sobs again. “Keep coughing.” What the hell? Whatever it is, she needs it, so I do it. I keep coughing while she’s patting and as far as I can tell, nothing’s happening…

Except that she’s still crying.

I try to show her some concern, but she just tells me to keep coughing, so I do.

After a few minutes, she puts me on my stomach with the pillow now rolled under my hips and she pats my pack the same way that she was patting my chest. After about two minutes of patting and coughing, a kind of warm feeling goes through my chest and throat… and then a not so good feeling in my nose.

Fuck, it’s water! There’s water coming out of my nose! Now, I really need to cough!

My first instinct is to leap out of the bed, but Butterfly makes me lay there and hands me one of the towels to wipe my face. Now, I’m coughing like one of my lungs is going to come through my throat at any moment, but it doesn’t. Only small amounts of water with each cough.

And she’s still crying.

After a few minutes of coughing and swimming in my bed, she turns me to the same position on my back, patting my chest again, and I’m sure I’m going to drown like this. But I don’t. More coughing, more tiny bits of water, and after another stint on my stomach while she pats my back, the coughs come up dry. My head hurts from the coughing, but at least it’s clear now.

And she’s still crying.

“Butterfly, please. I’m fine now,” I say, trying to stop her tears. She waves me off and goes into my dressing room. She returns with a pair of my boxer briefs.

“Put these… on,” she sputters, and I remember the last time I saw her cry like this. It was on the plane on the way back to the states from Anguilla. I’m certain that she didn’t want to cry; she just couldn’t stop. Geez, I hope she doesn’t need to do a thousand sit-ups to get through this spell. I take the boxer briefs from her and put them on.

“Is there anything I can do?” I ask as her sputtering sobs become a bit violent. She shakes her head and tries—and fails—to activate the two-way communications. I call out to the system for her then at her request, summon Gail.

“Yes?” Gail calls out.

“S… s… soup… with b… broth,” she says, and I can barely hear her.

“Gail, do we have any soup ready… with broth?” I ask, my voice weak from coughing.

“Yes, my chicken soup. I’ll warm some up… You sound terrible.”

“Small mishap. I’ll be fine. Will you bring it to the master bedroom please?” I look at my hyperventilating wife. “Two bowls, please.”

“Okay. Is that all?”

“Yes.”

“Good. End two-way communications.” I guess she thinks I need to rest my voice.

“Come here,” I say, holding my arms open to her now that I’ve coughed up the water and I’m sitting up in bed. She crawls over to me and I put my arms around her, trying to calm her. “I need you to breathe. I’m okay. I’m sorry I scared you. I won’t do that again. I thought I was fine until I wasn’t.”

She nods and continues to cry until Gail brings the soup. Not wanting to explain her state, she escapes to her en suite while Gail serves the soup. When she’s gone, Butterfly emerges from the en suite after having washed her faced, somewhat more composed but still sniffling terribly.

“Come. Eat, my love,” I say, holding my hand out to her.

The soup feels wonderful going down. My irritated throat thanks Gail for having it on hand, and Butterfly for knowing. It seems to have a calming effect on her, too, because the crying and sniffling has stopped while she finishes the soup.

“How did you know to do that?” I ask her and she turns to me. “The patting thing and the positioning.” She swallows her soup.

“When I was a kid,” she begins while looking into her soup, “a bunch of us went to the community pool like we usually did. Nothing out of the ordinary happened—we splashed around, we swam, then we went home. The next day…” She put her soup on the nightstand. “… we all discovered that one of the neighbor kids that went swimming with us had died in his bed. We found out that it was secondary drowning.” She crosses her legs lotus-style and turns to face me.

“The short explanation is that he inhaled a lot of water in the pool and later that night, the water sitting in his lungs gave him breathing distress and he ‘drowned’ in his sleep. I had never heard anything like it before, ever. And it scared me. A lot of us were even afraid to swim for a while after that.” She shrugs.

“Anyway, Daddy made sure that I learned the precautions of choking on or breathing in water and how to get fluid out of the lungs should someone breathe it in. When I got to medical school, I learned even more about it. Breathing in water can cause pulmonary edema, which is simply put, water on the lungs, but it’s really dangerous and it could cause infection or death. The whole drowning in your sleep thing normally only happens to children and it’s very rare, but this kid was twelve and his was pretty big. And even as a large adult male, you breathed in enough water to cause you to lose consciousness.”

I don’t bother to tell her that part of the breath depravation came from holding my breath, not from inhaling water. She’d probably put me over her knee and spank me, which I kind of deserve right now.

“I’m sorry, Butterfly,” I say, inwardly apologizing both for holding my breath to prolong the floating effect and for standing there letting the water fill my mouth. My wife was scared shitless, but her doctor brain always kicks in even when she’s in distress, just like it did when Jason was shot.

“You should go to the hospital,” she says, flatly. I shake my head.

“I’ll be fine, Baby,” I say. “My head is clearer already and my throat and chest are feeling much better.”

“Are you tired?” she asks. I shake my head.

“I was,” I reply, “really tired, but I’m not anymore.” She nods.

“Well, that’s a good sign.” She pulls her knees to her chest and wraps her arms around them. She’s not crying anymore, so the adrenaline must be at normal levels, but she’s still miles away. Maybe she’s thinking about the kid who died…

“Talk to me, Butterfly,” I say, pushing her hair behind her ear. She sighs and lays her head on her knees.

“You almost died,” she says, softly. “You could have died, Christian. My whole life flashed before me in an instant and I couldn’t see wanting to do anything else with it without you. I couldn’t see tomorrow. It wasn’t that I wanted to die or anything, I just couldn’t see tomorrow. I couldn’t see beyond that moment and you choking on the floor and dying in my arms. I couldn’t see it. At the end of that three-second funnel, I was Mrs. Havisham and all I could think of was getting you to wake up. I couldn’t. See. Anything. Else.”

“That’s why you cried so hard?” I ask, shaken. She sighs.

“I cried because even after you regained consciousness, I still couldn’t see anything,” she confesses. “Even while you were coughing up water and apologizing to me…” she raises her eyes to me. “Even now, I can only see minute by minute with you in front of me, but you’re not unconscious on the floor with a mouth full of water, so that’s why I can stop crying.” I pull her into my arms. Even when she was in the coma, I couldn’t see my life without her, so I just hold her, completely understanding how she feels.

“I’m fine, Butterfly,” I try to reassure her. “You’ve saved my life.” She nods, but I’m certain that she’s not convinced. “What do you want to do?” I ask, snuggling into her and holding her close to me.

“Disney,” she says, with a sigh. Disney? She reaches over to the nightstand where her soup has now gone cold and picks up her iPad. After a few swipes and moves, the screen comes alive with the “When You Wish Upon A Star” Disney intro and then I hear orchestra music, like from the old movies. I look down at the screen just in time to hear dogs barking.

101 Dalmatians.

“Oo, I haven’t seen this one,” I say.

“I know,” she replies sweetly. We snuggle in together as some groovy jazz horn plays the opening credits to how two black and white dogs become one-hundred and one.

*-*

When I open my eyes, I’m lying comfortably in my wife’s lap with my arms wrapped around her body. I swear, that must have been the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. Well, probably comparable to the last time I fucked my wife in her Kryptonite, valium-laced ass. She, on the other hand, looks worn out and tired. She’s still sitting up with her iPad in her hand and from what I can hear, she’s watching The Notebook… the love story that ends with the lovers dying in bed with each other at a ripe old age after living a long and beautiful life together.

How fitting.

I crawl up the bed and kiss her lips, then her cheek and her temple.

“You haven’t slept,” I say softly.

“You wouldn’t go to the hospital,” she replies just as softly.

“I would have gone had I known you wouldn’t sleep,” I chide. She sighs.

“It’s okay,” she says. “Somebody had to watch you, and you were right… you were fine.”

Now, I wish I had told her that I didn’t inhale as much water as she thought. I kiss her gently on the temple and take the iPad from her hands. After placing it on the nightstand, I coax her to lie down in bed. I softly massage her temples and the effect is almost immediate… her eyes flutter to a close with her lashes fanning over her cheek.

“It’s my turn to take care of you, now,” I whisper softly as she falls asleep.


A/N: I feel like the title deserves a bit of explanation. It’s an homage to Minnie.

A very long time ago, I used to work with this lady who lived on a farm as a child. When she became an adult, we noticed that every time we ordered lunch, she refused to eat any meat with bones in it. Cold cuts, ground hamburger, anything like that was fine. Chicken thighs or wings, T-bone steaks, turkey drumsticks—out of the question. 

I finally asked her… I said, “All meat came from something with a bone.”
She said, “Yeah, but some meat doesn’t have bones in it anymore.” 
I asked, “Why don’t you eat meat with bones?” 
She answered, “Because I knew those people personally.”

A bit of foresight—Minnie will most likely be a vegetarian. 

Dr. Dolittle—Ana repeatedly refers to Minnie as Dr. Dolittle. For those who may not know, he’s a character from books in the 1920’s then a movie in 1967 later remade in 1998 with Eddie Murphy with various sequels in the years that followed. Dr. Dolittle is the doctor that could talk to the animals.

Elmira—Ana also refers to Minnie, at one point, as Elmira, who is a character from a cartoon series from the mid-1990s called Animaniacs. She literally “loved” animals damn-near to death.

Mrs. Havisham—I might have spoken about her before. She’s the jilted bride from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations who ran around the house stopping all the clocks when and spent the rest of her life in a tattered wedding dress after her groom left her at the altar.

I’ve included pictures with links to the Woodland Park Zoo page as well as a movie or two if you would like to experience the zoo and animals for yourself on https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/trip-to-the-zoo/

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

~~love and handcuffs

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25 thoughts on “Raising Grey: Chapter 17—I Know Those People Personally

  1. Ann Shearer says:

    Wow thank you sweetheart, its amazing as usual, you are still the very best, this story just gets better and better, i love it, hope all is well with you and your family, your incredable xxx

  2. asunder73 says:

    I’ve been loving your Energizer Bunny of a saga for years…

  3. Darla says:

    Good chapter

  4. shazjackmeg says:

    Brilliant as always – he’d have been livid had she put her life in danger
    Love the way she took care of him such a brilliant couple. Christian was so sweet with his aunt look forward to more.
    Enjoying ur other story too xxx

  5. Ana says:

    This chapter was so freaking adorable 😁 And woo Christian for being way better at giving comfort now than before. Also Elmira I remember her and I let out a laugh part of my childhood right there 😊. Thanks for another awesome chapter! Have a great week ahead!

  6. Darcy says:

    I lived in Seattle for work for 4 years and I never made it to the zoo. sniff sniff. Thanks for the tour. 🙂

  7. seralynsmom says:

    That secondary drowning thing scares the ever loving hell out of me too. Because you just don’t know. That big dummy. Lol. At least he won’t do it again. Scared her worse than the snakes did.

    I am the same way with spiders as Ana is with snakes. I like snakes, venomous snakes not so much, but the constrictors and such they’re ok. We have a snake exhibit her at the Indianapolis Zoo and it’s one of my daughter’s favorites.

    This was a lovely normal day for them. And good on Christian for setting that asshole down. It’s just a fricken boob people. They weren’t ever meant to be sexualized, they were designed specifically to feed our children. We don’t freak out over cows and their udders, why do we freak out over a woman feeding her kids?

  8. falalalynx says:

    My Goddess,

    Woohoo what a day. grin They made it thru and no one recognized them. Yea! What a beautiful dose of normal. sigh lovely just wonderful.

    Christian’s family circle just continues to expand like when you drop a pebble in the lake. And he and Ana are the center and the center must hold. sigh And then you splash me right in the eye with Christian almost dry drowning. argh grrr. grin That’s what the news called it here when it happened to a little girl after a day at the water park. For a while I never wanted to let my grandbabies back in the pool. I got over it. Now I just watch them like a hawk.

    Oh Ana’s singing with Mikey, oh man another brilliant moment. I use to sing that one too. grin I don’t think I quite had the audience she did but still me and my little man were in the moment together. grin Mommy bliss I tell you.

    Thank you Goddess for lifting my spirits.

    Peace, Falala

  9. crazyblondearmybrat042202 says:

    the reactions the kids had at the zoo are adorable great as always

  10. Annette Tomplait says:

    It was nice to read a chapter that was all about being a family. Loved the interaction with Minnie and Mikey in the zoo. It was a normal family day. So sweet. I love how Gail, Jason, Sophie, Charles and Keri are all family too. I had never heard of this secondary drowning thing. But man that is scary. That is one of my fears, drowning. I can understand how Ana felt. She was scared to death. I hope to read more of these happy family moments. Thanks for the wonderful update. Have a great week.😊

  11. Victoria says:

    Loved the normalcy of the chapter and C and A doing normal things as a young family.
    I also appreciated the conversation between Burt and Ana as I had totally forgot about Carla. It was a surprise that she didn’t go all shrink on him and really spoke by example.
    Well done. Definitely not predictable in any manner . I have no idea where you are going with this story and I love it.

  12. jjgoldmann says:

    Have to love how easily Christian was swayed as to not having a snake in the house. LOL And how Christian went off on that couple that was glaring at Ana for breastfeeding Minnie. Love that man. Although when he is an idiot like when they were in the shower I just want to slap him! It’s nice to read Christian’s thoughts that he really does considered Jason and Chooks along with their families family.

    I hope that life gets a whole lot better for Nell and her kids and it seems that Burt has something to look forward to. 😉

    Minnie seems like she is going to give them a run for the money and he just might pull out his hair with that one? That is unless Ana gets her to calm down because she is already a handful. Then again Mickey is so calm but then again that to could change. So looking forward to those two growing up but not that soon because I am so enjoying them as they are. I can just imagine them all when those two start crawling and then walking. 😉

  13. S. Hodgson says:

    Loved it!!! What a beautiful “normal” day for them. They went unrecognized and mostly without conflict. Loved the bit about the snakes 🙂 Everyone has something they can’t see at the zoo. The teasing at the beginning was awesome. My husband used to tease me about buying himself a tarantula because I loathe spiders. And my reply was just lie Ana’s, I’ll move out if that thing enters my house. And Kamodo Dragons will eat people so Christian needs to get that idea out of his head too 😉 All in all this was exactly what was needed. We got normal, we got baby time, and we still got our dose of drama. Brava!!!

  14. Dee Hawthorne says:

    Excellent chapter, very thought provoking. I know you said you can’t help who you love and you just can’t turn your feelings off, I get that. What I don’t get is how you can love someone so much that you watch for years as he tears/bully your daughter down, then you leave when he “snaps” and attack the son that he supposedly loves. Did she value her son more that her daughter? Did Freeman’s disappointment of his daughter color her perception of Nollie as well. How does Nollie really feel with her mother finally leaving after he turned on Burt, but wouldn’t leave for her? Paging Dr. Steel on this one! And speaking of Ana, how does she feel about Nell on this angle, given her own history with her mother?.
    I really enjoyed the Zoo without all the Zoo smells, they really needed that. Loved the way Ana interacted with her kids, enjoyed that and the way you described Minnie, so cute!
    See you next week, thanks

    • Well, here’s all I can say on that. I have seen people stay in much worse situations than this and say that it was because of love– physically abusive, emotionally and financially oppressive… And if you remember correctly, he held Nell responsible for Nollie’s gender, so there’s no way of knowing what kind of mental and emotional warfare Nell withstood all those years. It’s very easy to try to analyze a situation from the outside looking in and although my abusive situation wasn’t exactly like this one, it’s just too difficult to explain an abusive situation to someone who’s not in it. Trust me, there’s going to be more doctors paged than Dr. Steele with this situation.

      • Dee says:

        You’re right of course. It is easy to look in and form an opinion. If you haven’t lived it, then you can’t understand it. I realize now it took a lot for her to leave and I hope she stays strong.

      • No worries. My Nell won’t be going back to that asshole. 😉 But as you can imagine, there’s going to be some rough days ahead for that part of the family.

  15. Lori says:

    I loved the family time with Ana and Christian being able to spend quality time with their children. Great chapter. Thank you.

  16. Mariposa says:

    It’s great seeing them spend time with the kids. Thanks for the update and the entertainment 🙂

  17. valentinesgenie says:

    This was a simply sweet family filled chapter and I loved ever bit of even Ana saving Christian’s life silly man almost killed himself great work see you next time take care…..

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