“I’ll completely understand if you want to stay at the hotel,” Heather says. She’s pushing a shopping cart with a broken wheel through Sav-On looking for lice remedies. Angie’s high heels click along the linoleum floor beside her. Heather’s head is throbbing. This was not the relaxing afternoon that she had been anticipating. “If you want to stay near the beach, we can get you a room at Shutters,” Heather says and picks up a box of RID.
“Let’s just wait and see. It’s no big deal,” Angie says, straightening her skirt, and then cracks her neck.
“It’s just that I’d had this whole spa day planned for us,” Heather says and tosses the box into her basket. “Lunch at the Ivy. Hot stone massages. This is not what I imagined. I swear my kids have never had lice before. ” She scratches her head and proceeds to the checkout line.
Outside, Jessica is waiting in the parking lot, leaning against the shiny white Escalade. Her large fringed handbag dangles from her shoulder. “My friend is picking me up here,” Jessica says, looking anxious.
“Please stay,” Heather says. The babysitter whom she was anxious to fire a few hours ago now seems invaluable. “I’ll pay you double.”
“I can’t get lice,” Jessica says. “It totally freaks me out.”
Heather shakes her head, too angry to speak. She and Angie climb into the car where Ava, Dylan and Kaitlin are waiting. They are buckled in their car seats and are unusually quiet.
“Don’t worry kids, everything is going to be alright,” she says trying to convince herself that’s true. Heather sees Jessica in her rear view mirror as she pulls out of the drugstore driveway. She is laughing and talking on her cell phone. Heather feels her face flush. “ I’m going to call the Louse Patrol,” she says.
“The what?” Angie says looking suddenly horrified.
“My friend Erin called them when her kids got lice last summer,” Heather says determined to not let this ruin her time with Angie. “They do everything for you.”
An hour later a white van pulls into Heather’s driveway. She’s relieved that it isn’t wrapped in an advertising sign. The Louse Patrol. What a terrible name!
Heather opens her front door and meets Marc Greenwald, who says he’s a co-owner of the company. He’s younger looking than she’d expected. Based on Erin’s referral, she’d thought he’d be someone older and more experienced looking. More startling is the fact that Marc has long brown hair, which he wears pulled back into a ponytail.
“Aren’t you afraid that you’ll get it?” Heather asks.
“Naw,” Marc replies. “I’ve been doing this for five years and only had it twice.”
“Can I get you a drink or something?” Heather asks as he follows her into the kitchen.
“No thanks,” Marc says and drops a large black duffle bag on the floor. “I never eat or drink at my clients’. Once I had a louse drop into my water glass and I accidentally drank it.”
“Oh,” Heather says, not sure what else to say.
“So I charge two hundred per hour,” Marc says.
Heather nods. She’s ready to pay anything and thinks about selling the house.
“It normally takes three hours depending on the infestation,” Marc says. “This includes my return visit to recheck. But if there is a reinfestation, the process begins again. So, immediately, you will have to strip all of the bedding, wash all of the pillows, bag up all stuffed animals etcetera. I can recommend a cleaning company.”
Heather looks out of the large family room window. She sees Angie outside, sitting upright on the patio chair, reading a book. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of this,” Heather says.
“All right, then let me check you first,” Marc says.
“I’m sure I’m fine,” Heather says and sits on the kitchen stool, mortified as Marc begins to pick through her hair.
“Yep,” he says. “You too.”
Heather feels like she might vomit.
“Don’t feel bad,” he says. “Ninety percent of the mothers get it. Much more moms than dads. Still, we’ll check your husband, too.”
That will be a great phone call, Heather thinks. She wonders if Michael will leave work immediately. He’ll probably come home and shave his hair. That’s what she’d do if she could. Sinead O’Connor pulled it off in the 90’s, right?
“I have a friend visiting. She just got here today,” Heather says watching Angie outside. Her sleek black bob shining in the sun. Angie sees her, puts down her book and walks inside.
“I’ll check her at the end just to be safe,” Marc says as Angie walks into the family room.
“I’ve been thinking that it might be best for me to stay at the hotel tonight. You have a lot going on and I don’t want to be in your hair,” Angie says and then laughs uncomfortably. “Meaning that figuratively, of course.”
“I get it,” Heather says, looking at Marc’s lice supplies displayed on the kitchen counter. “I only wish that I could go with you.”
Don’t miss chapters one through sixteen!
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a completely fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or families