The Wizard Heart
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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Darrin Thomas, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
The rest of the week before the move went without too much of a hitch. The only real excitement was when Max informed the nursing home of his pending departure. They tried to tell him he would need a court order to check himself out. Max simply made a phone call to the family lawyer and had him deal with the home, while he packed. In the end, not only did the home allow Max to move out, but gave him a full refund for the remainder of time he had already paid for.
Once Max was packed and David had picked him up, Max told David the next shocker. It seems that Max had never sold his truck. It was parked in a storage unit along with some special pieces of furniture he hadn't been ready to let go of. Max told David he had been thinking about it, and decided he wanted to have his truck up there with him in Dyersville. He asked if David would be willing to drive the truck up there, seeing as how he hadn't driven much for a while, and he wasn't sure how well he would do on a 6 hour trip.
David thought about it and decided that it would be better to rent a trailer and pull the truck to the farm. Seeing how Max's truck was a 1965 D100 Dodge pick-up, it wouldn't be a comfortable or an affordable drive. He knew his Explorer would have no problems pulling the trailer with the truck on it. David told Max his idea, to which Max agreed. Max said he just wanted his truck with him. He planned on leaving the furniture in the storage unit, for now. David asked how much he was paying for the unit, and wouldn't it make sense to move the furniture over to the cottage house on the family estate, Max just laughed and said it didn't really cost him anything, because he owned the whole complex. David just shook his head.
While the week was winding down toward the big move, Eli got more and more nervous. Mr. Perkins had been out to the house several different times during the week, each time he had a different employee with him. What Eli didn't know was that Melvin was checking out each of his team supervisors to see which team he would have handle this move. There was something about Eli that had struck Melvin, giving him the feeling that it was important to make this move go without a single hiccup. Melvin had decided to go with one of his youngest team supervisors, a young man by the name of Brent Holmes. Brent was a 24 year old college student who was working to put himself through school. He and Eli got along great together. It really didn't hurt that Brent knew a little something about fish himself.
It was finally the night before the move. After telling Eli to go to bed at least ten times, Sherry was ready to use the frying pan on him! David wasn't helping matters either, because he was laughing at how frustrated Sherry was getting with her 11 year old son. He did take pity on her and took Eli upstairs to get him to lie down. After doing some breathing exercises and talking for a few moments, Eli was sound asleep. This really did not help David out of the dog house with Sherry at all, but she didn't stay too upset for long.
David was the first one up in the morning, so he decided to run to the local McDonald's to get breakfast for everyone. He decided on the way there, just to get a bunch of different items, seeing how he didn't know what everyone would like. The only one he truly knew was his Uncle Max, that was easy, an Egg McMuffin with a hash brown. It had been the same thing for him since David had been about 5 years old. The only one up when he got back was Gerald, who was making coffee.
"Good Morning, Gerald. I made a run to McDonalds for some breakfast sandwiches, if you would like one of them?" David said as he walked into the kitchen.
"Thank you, David. What kind did you get?" Gerald asked as he headed over to the table.
After they had both picked out their sandwiches, David put the rest into the oven to keep warm till the others decided to get up. Gerald made a comment about being surprised that Eli wasn't up yet, but David told him about how late he had stayed up with the mixture of excitement and nerves about the big move. When Gerald had finished his breakfast, he called Matt to make sure everything was ready to go for when they arrived with Eli's fish.
Once he was finished talking to Matt, Gerald suggested they go and wake the others, so they would be ready when the moving team arrived. David thought this was a great idea, and said he would wake Uncle Max and Eli if Gerald would wake Sherry. David was still a little scared of Sherry after the looks she gave him last night while he was laughing about Eli.
The amount of sleep Eli got had only energized him even more. To say he was wound up tighter than a top would have been a huge understatement. Sherry was even more frustrated with him than she had been the night before. David was about to jump in when Gerald defused the situation quite easily.
"Boy, if you don't stop and start to calm yourself down, you won't even be here to supervise this move. I will haul your tiny ass out to your Mother's car and you and I will be waiting several hours at the farm for the rest to arrive! Do you understand me, Elijah Everett Kerry?" Gerald said in a firm yet loud voice.
David thought poor Eli was going to start crying, he looked so scared. It only took a few seconds before he squared his shoulders and replied to his grandfather.
"Yes, Sir! I do understand and I am sorry, Mom, I shouldn't have been acting like a brat for the past few days." He rushed over to his Mother and gave her a hug before doing the same thing to his Grandpa. Then he turned to Max and David.
"I am very sorry you had to see me acting like that." David pulled the boy into a tight hug as he saw a few tears roll down Eli's cheek.
"My boy, don't fret none about it. You just need some training. See, us Wiz types can be very passionate about things, to the point they sometimes become dangerous to ourselves. Why I remember when..." Max said before David cut him off.
"Thank you, Uncle Max, but I am sure Eli doesn't need to hear stories about me when I was young, right now."
"Haw! That just shows what you know, Sonny Boy! I was going to tell him about my apples!" Max said in a huff.
"What about your apples, Grandpa Max?" Eli asked, still in the embrace of David.
"Well, when I was about 15 I got this crazy idea that I could make money by growing and selling apple trees. See it was 1935, and the United States was just starting to recover from the Great Depression. Anyway, I talked my Grand-Pappy into letting me have about 10 acres of land on his farm. I saved up my allowance from my paper route money and bought seeds of about four different kinds of apple trees. For some stupid reason, I thought they would grow as fast as the bean sprouts we growed in science class. Boy, was I wrong. It took me a lot of hard work, and a few years to really get it going, but I had a passion in me to make it work, and it did, too! When my Grand-Pappy saw how hard I was working on my project, he gave me more and more land. Now, back then that was a really big deal! I didn't give up, and years later, I sold my apple trees and retired! I kept everyone in my family working for years and years. My brother and his son didn't want to have anything to do with the trees, and my boy here," he pointed to David, "had already decided he wanted to be a teacher by the age of 5 or 6, and he had that passion for it. So that is when I sold my trees."
"Who did you sell them to?" Gerald asked.
"I sold to the Dole Food Company, Gerald! And I did pretty well on the deal as well."
"Grandpa Max, what about Uncle Steven and Aunt Kelly, were they not interested in your trees, either?"
"That, my lad, is a very fine question. And the answer is, I have no idea. Oh don't get me wrong, I have no doubt things would have worked out a lot different had I not sold my trees. I knew Steven would follow in his brother's footsteps; that is just the way the twins are. Kelly, on the other hand, well that is much harder to say for sure. I think it worked out for the best the way it did, after all. Kelly is a very special girl, believe it or not, she really takes care of me. She would call me about every other day while I was at the retirement home, and when I still lived on my own, she called almost daily to make sure I was doing what I should be! Oh my word, let me tell you something right from the start, do not tease your Aunt Kelly about sitting around drinking beer and eating strawberry ice cream in your undies for a week straight! She will jump on an airplane and come beat your behind for not taking better care of yourself, and it is MUCH, MUCH worse if she finds out you were just joking around! I found that one out the hard way." Max then started laughing, which caused the rest of us to do it as well.
It was then David realized just what his Uncle was doing, he was distracting Eli so he would calm down. And it worked, too. Eli sat and finished his breakfast like nothing special was going to be happening that day. He didn't even jump up when the doorbell rang announcing the movers had arrived.
David could tell that Eli, and Gerald as well, were a little concerned with what his Uncle Max had said about Steven and Kelly not having a say in the sale of the tree farm, so when Max headed into the bathroom, David filled them in. He let them know that Steven, Kelly, and he, all received equal shares in the company before it was sold. None of them were ever going to be hurting for money, thanks to their Uncle's hard work alone.
Before anyone knew it, the moving crew had arrived to get started. The first crew that arrived started moving the few pieces of furniture Sherry had planned on keeping. This did include Eli's whole bedroom group. Once this group was finished, the next crew showed up to start working with Eli on getting his fish ready to be moved. Brent was the first to show up and quickly pulled Eli and David off to the side.
"Eli, I know that your fish would do much better if you were able to keep as much of their water as you could. I have a couple of questions for you, and we might be able to save almost all the current water. Do your tanks use a common filter and water source or is each tank a stand alone?"
"All the ray tanks are connected through one filter and supply line, the cichlids tanks are stand alone. The cichlids aren't that touchy about their water, not anything like the rays are." Eli told him.
"Well, I have some brand new never used 55 gallon drums that I have had pure spring water flushing through them for the last three days in the back of one of our trucks. My plan, with your approval, is to pump out your ray tanks into the drums while they are in the truck. This way we are able to save their water, to put back into the tanks when we get to your new home. Do you think this will work?"
David was very surprised by Eli's reaction. Instead of saying anything, he slammed against Brent hugging him with all his might.
"I take it that is a yes, Son?" David laughed.
"Dad, his plan is brilliant! I had figured I would lose at least half of my rays due to the new water conditions. It could even be more than half. With us being able to save the current water, there is a very good chance we could make this move without losing a single one. It would also mean that I could start shipping new orders within a month of the move, instead of the two months I posted on my website. Brent, thank you so much for thinking up this plan and doing all the work to make it happen."
Little did Brent or Eli know that Max had heard the conversation and was shocked to know that Eli had known he was going to have great losses caused by this move, as well as delayed shipping issues. Max planned to make sure the young man's boss would know, and to make sure the young man was properly compensated for his efforts. It wasn't long after they got started with the whole moving process, that Melvin showed up to double check everything. Max took this opportunity to pull him to the side and speak to him about what Brent did to help make this move a success.
"Mr. Perkins, my name is Max Hunt. I am David's Uncle, and Eli's Grandfather. I understand that young Brent works for you. Did he talk to you about his plan to keep the tank water to help give the stingrays a better chance to survive this move?"
"No, as a matter of fact he didn't. I was about to ask him why there was an additional truck out front. We had planned on one large truck along with one cargo van to handle the fish. What has that boy done?" Melvin asked getting a little upset.
"What that boy has done is make my Grandson a very happy boy! Brent came up with a plan to save the water out of the rays' tanks, this will allow them to settle in faster and safer once they reach the new house. Eli had said he figured he would lose up to half of his rays due to the condition of the new water when they got the tanks set back up. However, with the plan Brent came up with Eli thinks he might be able to save them all! Now, here is what is going to happen. You are going to find out for me what it cost Brent to buy the new 55 gallon drums as well as the cost for having the extra truck added for the move. Make sure both those are on the bill you will be giving to Me! Then I will cut you a check for the full amount and one for 30% as a bonus for Brent. Make sure you pay him back for what he paid out of pocket for the drums! Do you have any problems with this?"
"Wow! 30% bonus is unheard of! I don't have any problem with what you are telling me to do; however, my contract is with Gerald Kerry. It is he who will be getting the bill for this move."
"Boy, if you wish to get paid, you will give that damn bill to me! Gerald will understand!" Max said, leaving no room for argument.
"Fair enough, however, you will need to clear it with Gerald. I have a legal binding contract with Gerald, one that neither he nor I can break without the other's permission. I don't mess with the law!"
Max saw where Melvin was coming from and now understood what needed to be done. He was a bit afraid Gerald would fight him about who was going to be paying for the move. Max called Gerald over and explained what was going on. He told him what he planned on doing regarding the bonus for Brent for coming up with a way to save the rays. To Max's surprise, Gerald didn't have any problems letting Max cover the bill. He did offer to split it with Max, but Max assured him he truly wanted to cover it for his new Grandson.
Within two hours, everything was packed and loaded into the trucks and van. The only things left in the house were their personal bags. These went into the back of David's SUV. Once this was done, they hit the road. David had his Uncle's truck on a trailer behind his SUV. Before they all started the long drive, David and Brent discussed the trip. It was decided that David would follow Gerald and Max, who were driving Sherry's car, and Brent and the others would follow him. The plan was for them all to stay together. David had figured his SUV would get the worst gas mileage out of all 5 vehicles in the group, therefore when he needed gas, they would all top off.
Eli was bouncing around even with his seat belt on. After a few miles, David finally had enough and asked Eli what was wrong.
"I am sorry, Dad, but I think I forgot a very important part. Do you think we can stop so I can check the fish?"
"Well, if it will get you to calm down, then yes. Let me call your Grandpa and we will find a place that we can all pull over. What is it you think you forgot about?"
"Well, I put my water bottle down on the floor, and it's not near as cold now. Then I realized the floor of your truck was very warm, and the Van didn't even have carpet in the back of it, so I am really worried we are going to cook them." Eli had started to tear up at this point.
David called Gerald and told him to find a place to pull over, as soon as he could. It wasn't long before Gerald pulled into a Lowes' Home Improvement Store. As soon as the truck stopped, Eli was out and running over to the van with his backpack. As he got to the van, he pulled a floating thermometer out of his bag and climbed into the back of the van. His fears were right, the water was heating up. He was happy it was still within the safe range, but there is no way it would stay there if they didn't come up with something to solve the problem.
David explained to Brent and the others why they stopped. They all stood around talking about the problem, when a Lowes' employee interrupted them.
"Excuse me, sir? I am sorry but I couldn't help but over hear you all talking about the problem you're having. There is a very simple solution to the problem, and it would be free, too! See that pile of pallets over there?" The young man pointed over to the edge of the parking lot. "We put old pallets there, and someone always comes and picks them up. They are free to whoever wants them. If you lined the back of your van with them, and then put the boxes on top of them, this would give you a buffer zone and allow the water to stay cool."
The others thought it was a great idea. Brent had the other two movers go over and get a pallet each while Brent and David started pulling the boxes out of the van. Max pulled out a $50 bill and gave it to the young man. The young man tried to decline, but Max informed him that he had saved them much more money if they had lost all the fish due to the water getting over heating. The young man left them with a smile on his face.
After they got the pallets in the van and all the fish settled back in, they were ready to hit the road. Eli tried to get them to allow him to ride in the van so he could check on his fish during the trip, however neither his Mom nor David would allow him to, even Brent said he couldn't, due to not being an employee, therefore he wouldn't be covered by the insurance. Eli was not happy about it, but he said he understood. David tried to assure him they would be stopping every couple of hours and he would have a chance to check on them at every stop.
After all the stops, the trip finally came to an end. It was almost dark when they pulled up to the house. Uncle Matt was there and guided the moving vans to where they needed to go. The truck with the tanks and the van were guided over to the large metal building Uncle Matt had built to turn it into a workshop, but would now be the new home for Eli's Fish House. The movers started right in on getting the tanks set up. They set up the stingray tanks first, as they were the most sensitive. Once the tanks were in place, Eli started setting up the filter system while Brent started draining the drums into the tanks. It wasn't long before Eli started the filtration pumps and said they were ready to start adding the rays back into their tanks. While Eli and Brent added the rays, the others started setting up the Cichlids tanks. It didn't take long and they were filling them with the garden hoses. Eli added the chemicals to the water to get them ready for the fish to be added. It wasn't long before all the fish were back into their homes.
David and Sherry were there watching Eli do his work. David was so impressed with how Eli handled himself while giving orders to the grown men. Even though he was giving them orders, it was more like asking them for favors. This was just additional proof Eli would make an awesome King.
While all this was going on, Gerald and Max were in the kitchen fixing a huge meal to feed everyone once the fish were taken care of. The guys had decided to do a true country breakfast for dinner. There was steak and eggs with country potatoes, as well as toast, bacon, and biscuits and sausage gravy. They felt like they were preparing to feed an army with the amount of food they were preparing.
When the work with the fish was done, everyone headed up to the house. Gerald had already told them all that he was planning on feeding the whole bunch. While they were walking up, Brent said they were going to have to eat fast so they could hit the road to get back.
"Not a chance in hell, Brent!" David exclaimed after hearing the guy's plans to drive back. "There is plenty of room right here for you guys to spend the night. You have already put in well over a 10 hour day, you are not about to drive another 6 hours!"
"Guys, David is right. I figured you would be staying over, so I set up three rooms in the bunkhouse over there." Uncle Matt said, pointing over by the barn. "There is a shower, and all the beds have clean sheets. You should be more then comfortable for the evening. We will have breakfast fixed for you guys around 8 A.M., which should give you plenty of time to get on the road tomorrow."
"Thank you, Sir. I really hadn't planned on staying over, but it would be better if we did. I think Mr. Perkins would feel the same way. However, please let me call him and let him know of the change of plans." Brent said as he walked away from the group.
Brent had a smile on his face when he came back. He told David and Matt that Mr. Perkins had expected him to get a hotel room for the three of them, so he was more than happy that they were staying there, as it didn't cost him anything.
Dinner was wonderful and everyone had a great time. David and Sherry were trying to talk to Eli about what was going to be going on in the next few days, but they could tell the excitement of the move was catching up with him fast. David asked Matt to show him what room Eli would be using for the night while he picked up the small 11 year-old who was almost asleep already. David followed Matt up the stairs and to the room Matt decided Eli would be using, at least for now.
David had to get Eli undressed and under the covers, because the boy was sound asleep. Once Eli was in bed, David headed back downstairs. Gerald, Matt, and Max were saying their goodbyes to Sherry as he came into the kitchen. The moving guys had left for the bunkhouse already. Soon it was just Sherry and David sitting at the kitchen table, talking.
David told Sherry about needing to get to the school tomorrow to check in and get his room assignment. He also needed to get over to the district offices to fill out his emplacement paperwork. David asked if he could name her as next of kin on his forms. Sherry was a little taken aback by this, but like he told her, they were soon to be married.
Sherry asked if she should take Eli into the school to get him registered as well. David said he thought it would be better done on Monday, which would give him two days to check things out at the school. He knew if she registered Eli on Monday, he wouldn't be allowed to start school until Tuesday. David also knew this would make Eli very happy!
"David, how much protection do you think Eli is going to need at this school?" Sherry asked, worrying about her son.
"Well, I don't think there will be much need for protection, to be honest. Tomorrow I will talk with the Principal, as well as stopping by to talk to the County Judge and the Sheriff. The Judge is the Monco, or the Area Wizard leader. I need to make nice with him, so he doesn't think I am a threat to his position. Normally this isn't a problem, but with me being in the position I have been with the Wizard Council for the past few years, I am well known. This would give me the right to challenge the current Monco for the position; however, I do not want it. I have been told that Ron Martin, the Principal at Dyersville Middle School is a Class IV Wizard and that Sheriff Mills is a Class III Wizard. Judge Calvert, I think, is also a Class III. What I don't know, and what I want to check out is the other kids in the school. How many of them are young Wizards, and are there any of them who are bullies."
"David, do you think it would be better if we home schooled Eli? I am really worried about his safety!"
"No, Eli needs to be around others right now, more than ever before. He needs to build his skills at interacting with others, so he will be prepared to be a leader in the future. I guarantee you I will be watching over him and will make sure he will be safe at all times. If I thought for a moment I wouldn't be able to keep him safe, we wouldn't be here! What I am hoping for is that Eli will be able to make some good friends here, some of which will be part of the Wizard community. There is a very large and strong Wizard community in this area. I really think this will be a plus for all of us." David tried to calm Sherry's fears as he reached across the table and held her hand.
By this time, the day was catching up with them, so they said their goodnights to each other. David made sure the house was locked up and all the lights were turned off, on his way to bed. Sherry had taken the master bedroom on the first floor, while David had taken a room upstairs near Eli. Both of them were in dreamland as soon as their heads touched the pillows. They stayed that way until the smell of bacon and coffee woke them up, almost at the same time.
When they stumbled into the kitchen, Eli was already at the table having a glass of orange juice. He was chatting happily away with both of his grandfathers. As soon as he saw his Mom and new Dad, he jumped up and gave them hugs. The excited 11 year old started shooting rapid fire questions at David and Sherry. Sherry was sitting at the table laughing and shaking her head at the boy. David, on the other hand, who doesn't have the experience dealing with the over excited boy, was trying his hardest to keep up with him. This alone made Sherry and Gerald laugh even harder.
Uncle Max pulled David to the side before speaking to him.
"My boy, when you have a child as excited as this one is, there is nothing you can do but to let him burn off some of his steam. Don't try to keep up with him, because you can't! Just a piece of advice I learned when dealing with you and your brother."
"Thanks, Uncle Max. I wasn't sure what I should do with him. Part of me felt I really should give him the attention, and part of me wanted to make him run around the house." David laughed his response. "I need to get going, and I am not sure he is going to calm down long enough to explain to him what needs to be done today. Do you think you can give him a heads up when he comes down?"
"Sure can, my boy. I am sure once he gets some food into him he will be calmer. What time do you think you will be home today?"
"I really don't know. I haven't a clue how long I will be at the district offices, and that is after I stop by the school and meet with the principal. I don't think I will be much later today than I normally would be so around 4:30 or so."
"Okay. I know Sherry plans on taking Eli into town for a few things for his room. I know you told her not to register him until Monday. Now, do you plan on stopping by and seeing the Monco?"
"Yes, Sir, I do plan to stop and see if I can see him. I also plan on stopping at the Sheriff's office to talk with him. I am hoping that by meeting the Sheriff, he can get me into see the Monco. This way there will be a buffer there if his ego gets in the way, which I am hoping it does not."
"Good plan, my boy. Remember as the Ietanka to the Dexas, you have to be extra careful not to reveal who he is, just yet. You will have to keep your guard up at all times when meeting these Wizards. If the Monco is any good, he will be able to sense that you are hiding something. You might want to check him out through a trusted member of the Wizard Council, to see if you can trust him with what is truly going on. Having the local Monco on our side wouldn't hurt one bit, maybe even the Sheriff, as well. But, that is your call, my boy, yours and Eli's! I am not trying to exclude Sherry in this, but as you very well know, she is a Non-Wizard, therefore she has no say in Wizard matters."
"Uncle Max, you are correct in everything you just said, except for one part. Sherry has as much say in all this, and in every decision that affects Eli, because she is his Mother! Wizard or not, she is at the top of the list when it comes to anything regarding Eli! Please do not forget this. I do not want to have to be the middle man between the two of you when it comes to Eli."
"You are so right, my boy! I agree with you; I was wrong. Sherry does have a say in things, but try to remember, too, she is a Non-Wizard, so she might not understand what is going on."
"That is what you are here for, Uncle Max. I am depending on you to give me the education I need to help my son become the King of the Wizards you all want him to be. I want him to be the best he can be, no matter what that is. If he is going to be the King, he is going to have a lot to learn, and I plan on being right there with him, learning as well. I owe it to him, and his birth parents, to learn everything I can about him being a Wizard, as well as the being the leader of the Wizard World." Sherry said as she walked up behind Max.
"You are so right, Janius. It would be an honor in deed to be your teacher in the ways of Wizards. I shall endeavor to excel in your training!" Max said as he bowed to Sherry and backed out of the dining room where they were talking.
"Um, what did he call me?" Sherry asked David, after Max had left them.
"He called you Janius, the Mother of the King. He just gave you the highest compliment he could. He recognized you as the King's Mother, even though you are not a Wizard."
"David, does the Wizard World have its own language? I have heard several terms, like Dexas and Janius, as well as that thing you said you and Eli were to each other. I have never heard any of these terms before."
"Yes, there is a language known to the Wizard World, however, it is mostly a dead language. Uncle Max is the only Wizard Trainer I know of who still teaches his students how to speak it. I will be honest, even though I know most of it; I have never taught a student the language Uncle Max taught me. It has never been important before now. I would like your permission to ask Uncle Max to teach it to Eli. He knows it much better than I do, and it would really mean a lot to Uncle Max."
"The only way I would say yes to that is, if he would teach it to me as well. I think it will be important to Eli and you, for me to know it as well as some of the customs of the Wizard World. I know there will be things I will not be allowed to do, because I am a Non-Wizard, but I want to not only support my son, I want to be involved as much as I am allowed to, with his Wizard side." Sherry told David, hoping he would agree.
"I think you should be the one to ask Uncle Max. Let's go see what he says, before I head into town."
David took Sherry's hand and together they went back into the kitchen where the others were.