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Welcome to Lucy's Waterpark and Babysitting Service

Every spring, as the days butt up against summer, my husband, in the party rentals business, brings home his 15-foot tall waterslide for a weekend.

Last year, on a Sunday afternoon, while our children clung to the final fistful of fun, a rickety, blue truck pulled alongside the curb. Not an unusual occurrence, since we live in a small town. Many people stop and roll down their windows to ask where we got the slide, gawk at the mayhem, or needle bystanding adults to get wet.

So when my husband and I saw a man, a woman, and two children clamber out of the cab, we didn't think much of it; just that they were bolder than the rest. The woman marched up to the front porch, while the man trailed behind. The children stood in the wet grass.

"Do you know these people?" I whispered to my husband.

"Never seen them before," he mumbled.

"Hey, y'all," the woman greeted us. "That yore waterslide?"

My husband gave a quick advertisement.

"Mmmm," she vocalized. "This here's my boyfriend, Olin. We been drivin' by a few times and seen you out here. My kids sure would like to try it." Olin stood nearby with his hands in his jeans pockets, nodding in support, but never making eye contact with us.

While I thought, Not just bold, but audacious, my easy going other half said, "Let them take their shoes off and have a turn."

At that she turned and screeched, "Okay! Take yer shoes off. You better mind, too." The kids, a boy about 9 and a girl about 7, tore around to the ladder, thrilled at their remarkable fortune.

"Alright," she said, "we'll be back in 'bout a hour. Y'all don't know how much this means to them. Come on, Olin." Olin followed her, giddy about the clever offload. Before we could process or protest, they climbed into the creaky, old truck and eased off.

I looked at my husband, who returned my perplexed expression. Neither of us said anything. We stared at the two children we had accidentally acquired. We didn't even know their names, much less if they were prone to seizures or allergic reactions.

My spouse speculated, "I wonder what our liability is on this?"

I had bigger questions. "I wonder what made them think it's okay to drop their children off with total strangers? I wonder where they're going? I wonder who we call in case of an emergency?"

I took a breath, but couldn't quit. "I wonder how that conversation went? - 'Those people look safe. Think their dog bites? You kids play at that house while Olin and me go take care of some business.' - I wonder if those people are ever coming back?!!!!"

An hour and a half later, long after my children had gone inside for baths, our visitors remained. "What do we do with them?" I muttered to my husband.

About that time, the tired truck lumbered down the street. Olin sat behind the wheel grinning like a bullfrog. The woman stepped out and hollered, "Y'all come on now and let these folks take that thang down." The children glumly shuffled toward the truck, scooping up their shoes and socks.

I felt so relieved to see Olin, I could have hugged his neck. Except he looked like he'd already had it hugged.

Again, the woman yelled, "Git yerselves up to that porch and tell them people thank you!" Olin nodded.

Moments later, they drove off. My husband and I silently exchanged our same dumbfounded gazes and closed the door behind us.

Web posted on Thursday, May 31, 2007

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