Is It Clean Yet?
By Audrey W.
Johnny helped Joanne and Roy clear the dishes from the dining room table. Joanne had told Roy to invite his partner over for a home-cooked ham dinner, and since being a bachelor often meant grabbing a snack here and there or stopping at a fast food place instead of eating a well-rounded meal, Gage was more than happy to accept.
“I’ll do the dishes if you want me to,” Johnny offered, setting the plates next to the sink.
The blonde paramedic looked surprised. This wasn’t the John Gage he knew. “You hate washing dishes.”
“Only at the station, Roy. I don’t mind doing them here. . .it’s entirely different.” He glanced at the DeSoto’s four-year-old daughter. “Besides, Jenny’s been asking to wash the dishes after dinner since I got here. So she can help.”
“Uh. . .Johnny,” Joanne began, “I don’t let her do that yet.”
“Awe, c’mon. It’ll be fun. . .I don’t mind the help.”
“She just likes to play in the water,” Roy warned.
Gage looked down at Jennifer. She was watching the exchange between the adults, a hopeful expression on her face. When Johnny saw that, he knew he had to win on the issue. After all, what harm could it do?
“Just let Jenny and I do it this once. It won’t take us long.”
Roy and Joanne exchanged knowing glances and shrugged.
“Okay,” the older man said, ushering his wife out of the kitchen. “But keep in mind, it was your idea.”
When he and Jennifer were finally on their own, Gage slapped his hands together, a wide grin on his face.
“Alright, Jenny, you ready?”
“Good deal. You wanna wash or dry?”
“Wash it is,” Johnny said, motioning for the little girl to step over to the sink. When she did, the top of her head barely reached the top of the kitchen counter. “Uh oh. Looks like we have a slight problem here, huh?”
Jennifer nodded, a frown on her face.
“Well, let’s see. . .” the dark-haired man glanced around the room. “Ah ha! We’ll just pull a chair over to the sink and you can kneel on that.”
The blonde girl smiled.
With everything set, Johnny stood beside Jennifer as she started to wash a glass.
“I’m gonna get this reeeally, really clean,” she said with pride.
“Good girl.” I can’t see why Joanne and Roy don’t let her do this all the time. It could save Joanne a lot of work.
Ten minutes later, Jennifer was still washing the same glass, swishing the dishcloth up and down inside. “I’m gonna get all the germs off this glass. It’ll be the cleanest glass in the whole wide world!”
“That’s great sweetheart,” Johnny said, trying to sound enthused. He stared at the glass in her hands, wishing she would just rinse the darn thing.
Another ten minutes and the little girl was washing the outside of the same glass. . .again.
“This is gonna be the cleanest glass ever!” she exclaimed with pride.
Johnny was resting his right elbow on the counter, his chin on his right palm. “Yes, I’m sure it is,” he agreed, frowning. The paramedic glanced at his watch. Man, at this rate we’ll be here all night. “How about you rinse that one and wash the next one?”
“Oh no. I can’t do that.”
“This one isn’t clean yet.”
The man placed both elbows on the counter and covered his face with both hands. If it were anyone but Roy’s kid, he would get a little forceful and take the glass away. But under the circumstances, Johnny kept his patience.
“Jenny, how about you wash it for two more minutes, then we move on to the next one? I have to go home soon.”
“But it’s not cle--”
“It’s clean!” He had said it with more impatience than he intended. In a calmer voice, Johnny repeated, “It’s clean enough, sweetheart. Ya did good.”
“Okay.” Jennifer put the glass in the clear water in the other side of the double sink. “But if mommy says it’s dirty, it’s your fault!”
Gage put up his hands in defense. “I’ll take full responsibility.”
Jennifer reached for a plate. “I’m gonna get this plate really clean!”
Fifteen minutes later, the girl was still washing the same plate. Johnny had pulled over a chair and sat nearby. He figured either Roy or Joanne would be in to rescue him soon enough. In the meantime, he would let Jennifer do her important job.
Besides, he reasoned to himself, when it’s time for me to go home, Roy’s got to figure out the solution to this.
He sat back and listened as the little four-year-old went on and on about the sparkling clean dish in her hands.