Joseph Anderson Donetti looked up from the book he was reading. Rain beat against the windows and ran down the glass panes. Joseph wiggled into a more comfortable position in the big over-stuffed chair. He looked for his place on the page again. The story was getting very exciting! Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China, had just been told by the governor that she had to go into the prison and stop the convicts there from fighting and killing each other. The governor’s soldiers were too afraid to go inside the prison. What was going to happen?
There was a sudden scream. Joseph’s book flew out of his hand and landed on the floor. For a silly second, Joseph thought the scream had somehow come from behind the Chinese prison walls. The very screams that Gladys Aylward was hearing. Then he realized that it had come from down the hall. In his own house. From the bathroom.
Joseph jumped up and raced to the bathroom. He banged on the door. “What’s the matter?” he called.
“I can’t believe it!” G.M. shouted. (G.M. was Joseph’s special nickname for Grandma Maddie.) “We don’t have any water!”
“What do you mean?” Joseph called back.
“I mean, I am standing here in the shower with shampoo in my hair, and we don’t have any water!” G.M. shouted, more loudly.
“Why not?” Joseph asked, bewildered. “What happened to it?”
“I don’t have any idea!” G.M. exclaimed.
Joseph thought a minute, then he dashed into the kitchen. He turned on the faucet over the sink. Sure enough—nothing happened. Absolutely no water came out. A strange feeling began to grow in the pit of Joseph’s stomach. Water was always supposed to come out when he turned the faucet on! It was one of those things he never even bothered to think about. Sort of like the sun’s coming up in the morning.
Joseph heard a crash in the bathroom. He ran back down the hall. “What happened?” he called breathlessly.
“Nothing!” G.M. snapped. She opened the bathroom door and stood there in her long fuzzy pink bathrobe, a towel wrapped around her head. “I dropped something!”
“Do you still have shampoo in your hair?” Joseph asked.
“Yes!” G.M. answered. “I do! I guess I could go stand outside and let the rain rinse it out.”
Joseph tried to picture G.M. standing in the middle of the lawn, the rain washing shampoo bubbles from her hair. He grinned. “Can I watch?” he asked.
G.M. swatted his arm and marched past him to the kitchen telephone. She punched in a number and waited while the phone rang and rang. Finally she hung up. “I can’t even go next door and finish my shower there!” she exclaimed. “The Evanses aren’t home! What am I going to do? You know, you can’t call just anybody and say, ‘Pardon me, but can I borrow your shower?’”
Joseph snapped his fingers. “I know! I know!” he put in. “Pastor Chuck! You could borrow his shower! He wouldn’t care!”
G.M. sighed. “I guess that’s a possibility,” she said. “However embarrassing it might be. I’m pretty sure I’m too much of a sissy to finish my shower in that cold rain.”
“I’ll call him,” Joseph offered. “I’ll ask.”
“OK,” G.M. said. “I’ll go put my clothes in a bag. A waterproof one,” she muttered.
Joseph pulled the church’s phone directory out of the drawer. He found Pastor Chuck’s number and dialed it.
“Hello?” a cheery voice answered. It was Mrs. Pastor Chuck.
“This is Joseph,” Joseph said. “Can G.M. come over to your house and finish her shower?”
“Excuse me?” Mrs. Pastor Chuck said. “What did you say?”
Joseph realized that he had not done a very good job of explaining the problem. He began again. He finished by telling Mrs. Pastor Chuck that G.M. did not like the idea of letting the rain wash the shampoo out of her hair.
Mrs. Pastor Chuck laughed. “Of course, you can come over! And what about supper? If you don’t have any water, making supper might be a little difficult—not to mention cleaning up afterwards. You can eat with us.”
“Thank you!” Joseph exclaimed. His stomach rumbled. The problem of cooking without water had not crossed his mind. Suddenly his thoughts leaped forward to an even worse lack-of-water problem. How could they flush the toilet without water? Having water was more important than he had ever considered!
“Are you coming right away?” Mrs. Pastor Chuck asked.
G.M. came into the kitchen with a bulging white plastic bag from a department store. She pulled her raincoat on right over her bathrobe. Her hair was still wrapped in the towel. She waggled her eyebrows at Joseph. “I guess I don’t need a hat,” she said.
“I think so,” Joseph answered Mrs. Pastor Chuck.
“We’re having corn chowder and toasted bagels,” Mrs. Pastor Chuck said. “And Pastor Chuck made brownies from a box for our dessert. You can help me eat them up. They’re slightly burned, but I don’t think you should mention it to him,” she added.
“I won’t,” Joseph assured her. He hung up the phone.
G.M. handed Joseph his raincoat and watched as he stuck his arms in the sleeves. She glanced down at the bottom of her bathrobe which was too long for her coat to cover entirely. “You’d better not laugh at me!” she threatened.
“I won’t,” Joseph said. But he did.