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Story Notes:
*the usual disclaimers apply—thanks to Cheryl for the idea and brainstorming—hope you enjoy *
Baby Power

4247 Maplewood Dr.

Saturday, October 27, 1990

2:30 PM

“Oh, Jenna.”

Lee stared down at his daughter—or what he could see of his daughter. That wasn’t much at this point. The stuff caked her hair—her tiny face covered with brown splotches and bits of grass—jeans, jacket and shirt splattered—rivulets ran down her rainboots and puddled onto the floor.

Mud. Of all the times for Dotty and Amanda to be out shopping. Lee knelt beside his daughter, crouching down to her level.

“Munchkin, you know that you didn’t have to splash in every mud puddle you saw,” he told her gently.

Dark brown eyes regarded him plaintively. “But I like ‘plash.”

Lee ran a hand back through his hair. “Yeah, I know. But did you need to sit down in the puddle too?”

Her voice was small. “I don’t know.”

“Was it fun?”

“Yeah,” Jenna spread her fingers out and studied her grime covered hands critically before looking back up at him. “I dirty?”

“Oh, yes, you definitely got dirty.” Lee gathered her into his arms and stood, kissing the tip of her nose—the only clean spot on Jenna’s face at the moment—she giggled. “What do you say we get you into a nice warm bath, huh? Maybe get you into some pajamas?”

For your afternoon nap, he added silently, not wanting to say the word in front of his daughter.

“ ‘kay.” Jenna said. “Get clean?” Suddenly she sneezed—wiping at her nose with the back of her hand and gaining a muddy streak just below.

“Bess me,” Jenna said.

Lee laughed. “Bless you ,” he said. “We’ll get you clean, munchkin—don’t worry.”


“Pooh bear—Winnie Pooh bear,” Jenna sang softly as she bobbed her Winnie the Pooh bath toys on the surface of the sudsy bathwater. “looking fun—tasing a funny bees.” Lee couldn’t help but smile at his daughter’s mangling of the lyrics—he himself had heard the song so many times that it was engraved on his memory. Francine had once caught him singing it to himself in the bullpen—he was pretty sure she’d never let him live that one down.

“Okay, munchkin, time to wash your hair,” Lee told her. Picking up the bottle of baby shampoo he rubbed a small amount onto his hand and then onto her already wet hair.

“I put on too?” Jenna asked—her hands reached up, trying to rub the shampoo.

“Yeah, you put it on too.” Lee helped Jenna work the shampoo into a good lather—making sure to keep it out of her eyes. It was tear-free but he knew from experience that Jenna didn’t like having anything in her eyes. “Now we’re going to rinse, okay? Close your eyes.”

“’kay.” Jenna screwed her eyes shut as Lee took the portable shower head and gently rinsed her hair, again making sure that nothing got into her eyes.

“All done,” he told her. Jenna opened her eyes.

“All clean?” she said.

“Yep—all clean. Can you pull out the plug, munchkin?”

“Yeah.” Jenna pulled out the plug and bent over the drain, watching as the water swirled down.

Just then the doorbell rang.

“Who here?” Jenna asked.

Who indeed—Lee’s mind raced. He couldn’t leave Jenna unattended and she certainly couldn’t go downstairs like this—not when he didn’t know who might be there. Thinking fast he reached for a towel and wrapped it around her before scooping her up.

“Daddy needs to answer the door,” he told her. “I’m just going to put you in your crib for a few minutes, and I want you to stay there. All right?”

“Wight.” Jenna repeated. “Daddy—get Pooh and ‘yore –pease?”
“I’ll get ‘em.” Still holding Jenna Lee bent down, grabbing the plastic Pooh and Eeyore—spotting the baby powder near the sink he grabbed that too.

The doorbell rang again, and then a third time..

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Lee muttered. Whoever it was, he thought—it had better be worth it. Carrying his daughter across the hall to her nursery he put her inside her crib and raised the slats.

“Stay right here,” he told her, placing the still-damp toys and the baby powder on the top of Jenna’s dresser.


Lee shut the door and went downstairs just as the doorbell rang a third time.

“I’m coming!” he called out. “Just hold on a minute.” He opened the door.

“Did you order a pizza, sir?” the man asked, his face partially obscured by the pizza box he held.”

“No—I didn’t order a—” Lee’s voice faded as the man lowered the box.


A sheepish grin. “Hi, Lee.”

“Just what do you think you’re up to?”

“It’s called a disguise.”

“I know what it’s called—why are you wearing it?”

“Just in case anyone was following me.”

“Like who?”

Augie shrugged. “Terrorists, gangsters—the waitresses I fired this morning—who knows?”

“Did you forget to pay them again?”

“That really hurts you know—I mean, that you would even say that. Those kinds of accusations—” Lee held up his hand.

“Save it—tell me what’s going on.”

“Well, since you insist. You said you were looking for info on Libyan arms dealers, right?”
“That’s correct.”

Augie said. “It just so happens I have word that two of them are already in the country—they’re looking to buy the plans for the newest stealth bomber.”

“Do you know who they are?”

Augie scratched the side of his head “Well—”

“Any idea of where they’ll be exactly?”

“ I’ll try and see what I can dig up, if you want” Augie said.

“Yeah, you do that.”

“Lee—do you know you have mud on your shirt?”

“Never mind what I have on my shirt, Augie—is that all you had to tell me?”

“Say, you and Mrs. Stetson wouldn’t be getting into mud wrestling, would you? Cause if you are I could always give you a few pointers—”

“Augie—” Lee growled.

“Okay, okay—yes, that’s all I have,” Augie replied. “Look, I really had to go out of my way to come out here, Lee—I’m only doing this because we’re friends. I wanted you to be the very first to have this info.”

Lee let out a sigh. “All right—well, thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” Augie said. “But now that you do mention it, Lee—I could really use a little bit of—things are kinda tight at the moment, you know?”

“Here,” Lee took his wallet out of his pocket, handing Augie fifty dollars.

“Thanks a lot.” Augie handed him the pizza as he pocketed the money. “Have fun with your mud.”


The smell.

That was the first thing Lee noticed as he came upstairs—it was a sweet smell, almost overwhelming.

“Munchkin?” he called out, wrinkling his nose. She didn’t answer—and the smell—he wrinkled his nose—it was familiar, somehow—almost like—

He opened the door to the nursery.

A white cloud rushed out to meet him—Lee coughed and waved his hand trying to clear the air.

Baby powder.

“Daddy,” Jenna called out.

The stuff began to settle. Lee could see that just about everything in the nursery had acquired a thin layer of white powder. Jenna’s toys—the dresser, the carpet—the crib—

He spotted the plastic container that had held the powder –it lay on the carpet just below the crib—the lid was off—

And then there was Jenna herself.

Still in her crib—the towel that had covered her lay at the bottom of the crib—her hair, her body —her face—even her eyebrows were coated in white.

How had this happened so quickly? He had only left her for a few moments.

“What happened?” he asked her.

Jenna shrugged. “Baby power.”

“Yeah I can see the baby powder—how did the baby powder get there?”


Lee ran his hands back through his hair—his powder-covered hands. With that on top of the mud on his shirt he could only guess how he must look. “How did it fall exactly?”

“I don’t know.”

Interrogating an adult was one thing—a 20-month old child was quite another. “It just fell all by itself?” Lee prodded.

A long silence. Jenna looked down at her feet and then back up at him. “No”

“Did you pick it up?”

A nod. “I wanted toys.”

Toys—she had probably wanted Pooh and Eeyore, Lee realized—but from her vantage point the powder had been the closest thing she could grab. Amanda had said something about not keeping things on top of the dresser but Lee had been in such a rush— “You took the powder?”

Another nodded. “I ‘pwinkle.”

“All over your crib?”


“And then all over yourself.”

“Uh-huh. I put baby power on—See?”

“Did you drop the baby powder?”

Another nod. “It— just ‘ploded, Daddy.” Jenna gestured with her arms, only to raise yet another dust cloud.

“Yeah, exploded is the way I would put it.” Already Lee’s mind was reeling with the stuff he’d need to do to clean this room—get the powder off of everything.

“I ‘tayed in crib, Daddy.”

“I know you did.” He plucked her out of the crib, looking into her eyes as he spoke. “But munchkin, listen—baby powder isn’t a toy. Only mommy and I get to put it on you. Don’t try to put it on yourself or anything else. Okay?”

“’kay—I sowwy.” She sniffled.

“I know,” Lee hugged her briefly. “Hey, come on, let’s get you into another quick bath before Mommy and Grandma get home.”

“Get Pooh and ‘Yore?”

“In a minute.”

A sudden tickle in his nostrils—growing stronger—Lee covered his nose, turning his face away from Jenna’s as he sneezed.

Jenna grinned. “Bess you, Daddy.”

The End
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