The Little Pipsqueak
© 2012 Matthew Templar
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 Matthew Templar, 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.
"Dad, I thought you were gonna tell them everything that happened. You even said 'specially the good stuff."
"Well, of course," I said. "Why would I leave any of that out?"
"Um, cuz you maybe had a brain far . . . um, I mean a memory loss thing. I dunno but you did," he said, covering his mouth from his near slip of the tongue.
"I left something out? What?"
"Our celebration! Great Grampa's and my Saturday party with everybody, about findin' out who I was all this time and not knowin'."
"Oh my gosh, AJ, how could I have done that? I am so sorry. You know I'd never want to do that on purpose, don't you?"
"I know. I can see how. There was a ton 'o stuff goin' on then. I can still 'member how busy we were what with school ending and getting' ready for Tyler's birthday and our, well, yours and my, well, you know," he said with a huge grin on his face.
That also got me a huge hug. I should forget things more often.
So, thanks to my friend and reader, Rick, for also pointing it out, I'm backing up to the Saturday before school let out. At the end of Chapter thirty-two, Jeffy had just pulled his 'egg' stunt on poor AJ. But AJ, being the soft-natured, albeit naïve, boy that he was, let it wash off of him as easily as a shower.
However, being protective of my little guy's delicate psyche, I had to help him out a little. During the next half hour I rigged the magic trick so AJ could show his friends at the party, with Jeffy being the stooge, I mean the audience participant. I was sure Jeffy couldn't refuse such an innocent request from the brother he loved, and tormented some times.
I made sure I had two eggs blown out and cleaned out this time. I wouldn't want Jeffy to lift a heavy egg knowing what was in store for him.
But that would all be later in the day.
The fare was much the same as when we celebrated Tyler's new identity as Linda Sue's son with all our friends. The same people were invited and some others, like the judge and his wife. We even invited Franklin Wang from the restaurant we all loved but he bowed out respectfully, saying he had a party scheduled for that day at the restaurant and it involved his family and friends.
But imagine our surprise when a van pulled up right before the party started with 'Wang's Chinese Buffet' brightly printed on the side. The driver carried in six trays of Chinese hors d'oeuvres and dim sum fresh from the Wang's kitchen. What a special gift.
The rest of the day couldn't have been better. Summer was fast approaching and the weather reflected it. Everyone seemed in a great mood, but very few people knew why we were partying. Even Dan's crew knew nothing about the reason for the party. I think that they'd all partied more in the last couple of weeks than ever before. I know my two boys had; Tyler too, I was quite sure.
With the judge, his wife and Jeb comfortably planted in cushioned lawn chairs at the edge of the patio, they could take in all the action of the youngsters as they gallivanted around the property.
Tyler seemed especially animated this time, nothing seemed to hold him back from enjoying himself and following the other kids at whatever they came up with.
Occasionally, I'd see someone talk with AJ and then I'd see AJ shake his head and usually point to me. Finally, right before the food was laid out, he came over to ask me when.
"So, everybody's askin' why we're all goofin' off here today and if there's a special reason like us bein' adopted or somethin'. I can't hold back much longer. I just wanna tell someone real bad, Dad. Can I?"
"May I?" I corrected.
"No, I wanna!" he said with a slight mischievous grin.
"You little pipsqueak. You knew what I was saying, didn't you?" I asked, grabbing him to tickle the truth out of him.
"Ha ha ha! Help! Yes, I knew!! I 'membered way back when Denver did it! Ha ha!"
He sure was a good squirmer. He was out of my arms and just out of reach in a few seconds. By then we were surrounded by most of the kids. The adults started to wander over and I motioned AJ to follow me.
We walked over to the patio and stood in front of the three folks sitting in their cushy chairs.
"What? Is it time?" asked Jeb.
"I should say so, Jeb. The kids want to know why we're all gathered again so soon after Tyler's coming home party."
I looked up in time to see a huge grin on Tyler's face. His mom, Linda Sue, hugged him around his waist as they stood watching the proceedings.
"I think we ought to let the boy have at it, Tim. What do you think?" asked Jeb.
"That was my thought exactly, Jeb. AJ, why don't you tell everyone what we're celebrating today?"
"Me? Um, okay, um, well," he said, turning to address his many friends, "see I guess a lot of you know, oh and maybe some don't, that I wasn't who I thought I was." He was really nervous.
There were a few 'huh's?' from the group.
"Well, I thought I was always Andrew James Vitale but when Dan tried to get my information to get me in school, there wasn't anything there. Okay, not that was real anyway. Then when he and Deputy Norton did their investigating thing about the lost kids they found out some stuff about a kid, a baby, that was stolen from someplace else, another state.
"Okay, so then our neighbor and my best friend, well, the oldest of my best friends, Mr. Harding here," he said and covered his mouth, giggling, likely because he knew he wasn't just our neighbor and friend anymore. "He found out that his daughter had a daughter that had a son but his daughter died when . . . um, well, and his daughter's daughter died, oh gosh. Um, see, it was really bad and they all died because the daughter's son was kidnapped. That's what Gram . . . um, Mr. Harding found out."
There was kind of a forced hush that went through the crowd. Several must have picked up on AJ's slip and several others knew where this was all going anyway. AJ shook his head and continued.
"So, anyway, we all got tested like Tyler and Mrs. Cottington did to find out they were family and, so, what we found out was that I'm that baby, well, not a baby anymore,"
There was plenty of laughing at that remark from the kids that were standing around.
AJ, blushing a nice shade of rose, kept on with his story.
"Okay, I found out I'm Great Grampa's great grandson!" he said with a huge smile.
Some of the kids were still a little confused so AJ illustrated by walking up to Jeb and pointing back and forth between Jeb and himself, practically glowing with pride.
"O-o-o-oh," said the youngest voices.
"So, that's why we're celebrating, cuz'a I got me a great grampa and he's got a great grandson," finished AJ as he carefully plopped into his great grampa's lap.
"A really great great grandson, too, I might add," said Jeb, just before he let out a great guffaw at his joke and gave his boy a secure hug.
"Yeah," agreed AJ, smiling broadly and nestling down into his blood relative.
For the next several minutes there were congratulations from almost everyone. The place was alive with the joy we all felt. Then I noticed that the atmosphere began to get a bit somber and quieter and several people looked over at me with a worried look.
I guess the judge picked up on the change that was slowly taking place too.
"Now wait a minute, everyone, before you go letting Sergeant McGill cry on your shoulder. The whole kit and caboodle of them still want to be one family, so, Jeb is letting Tim go ahead and adopt AJ, just like before."
"Yeah, and his name is gonna be Jebediah Joseph Briscoe Andrew James Vitale McGill," piped up Jeffy.
That got some more worried looks until Jeb waved it off and declared the pipsqueak just Andrew James, with the addition of McGill soon to follow.
I could hear the sighs of relief as the crowd understood that there was reason for double the joy all around.
Again, I happened to look up in time to see Linda Sue actually wink at Judge Davenport, then I turned to see him smile back. His wife leaned over and he whispered something to her which made her look at me and smile sweetly, then she slapped the judge's hand for reaching for one of the cookies on her plate.
The kids were all crowded around AJ and they drew Tyler into the middle too. I couldn't hear what was going on but I'd guess they were all comparing the two couplings. After all, what were the chances of something like two of the kidnapped boys being found and placed right here in our town?
"Okay, everyone, soup's on!" I shouted.
About a minute later Denver and AJ walked up with empty bowls that AJ must have gotten from the kitchen.
"Dad, we don't see any soup. Is it still inside?"
"Boys, I'm sorry. It's an old saying when the food is ready to say 'soup's on'. You're right, there isn't any soup, but try some of the little thingies from Wang's, guys. I think you'll like them even more."
They ran off happy, soon with sauces dripping down their faces.
I loved watching Tyler standing over the trays from Wang's. I didn't know if he'd ever been to the restaurant or any Chinese restaurant for that matter. He would look at one type of treat then look around self-consciously to see if anyone was looking, then sometimes he'd pinch a corner off or lick his finger having dipped it in a sauce. Luckily, except for once, he picked up each piece and finished it, sometimes with a gruesome look, sometimes with a look of pure ecstasy as he obviously enjoyed it.
The one time that failed was when I sent the two youngest boys over to try out some of the nibblies and AJ grabbed up one that Tyler had broken the corner off of. Tyler tried, in his sheepish way, to warn AJ, but AJ didn't even slow down. He'd grabbed up two or three different kinds and ran off without looking back.
That's when Tyler noticed me observing him. He looked up with a very concerned look right at me, blinked and looked even more upset. I smiled, trying to reassure him, then walked over to make it clear that no harm was done.
"I am so sorry, Tim. (We finally got him to stop calling me Tim, Sir, as well as the other men in his life.) I didn't know AJ would take that one. But I couldn't stop him." He was beginning to get a little upset.
"Oh, Tyler, don't worry. You have nothing inside you that will hurt AJ or anyone. And, it was just your fingers that pinched away a bit of it, right?"
By then Linda Sue and Dan walked over to see what was going on.
"Yes, sir. I wouldn't want to hurt AJ. I love him like a brother, I think. Right, Mom?" he said turning to see his mother standing next to Dan.
"Yes, that's right. Tim, Tyler and I have discussed this many times and he came up with the importance of their relationship. He's indebted to many people but the boys he sees as more than just friends. I had to explain the concept of brothers, of course, but he tuned right into that and decided that's who he wanted all the boys to be to him."
"That's so wonderful, Tyler. Have you told them that? I'm sure they'd love to know that's how you feel about them. That is such a special relationship," I said. "Did you know he felt that way about the boys, Dan?"
"Well, um, yes, now that you mention it, it did come up in conversation a few times and once when they were over, um, to dinner." He was being a bit coy about it which made his comments amusing.
I looked at Linda Sue who blushed a pretty pink then hugged Tyler to her to change the subject.
"You are a special boy, Tyler, and I'm sure each boy would love to be your brother."
Of course, Tyler was blushing also, around a cute smile, and was sure nervous like he'd get when he was talked about in front of others. It just served to make him even more charming and innocent than he already was. At some point, quite a while after the party, I realized that I had almost totally forgotten what he'd been through, except in regard to his innocence in so many things he was learning.
As for Linda Sue and Dan, something wonderful appeared to be happening between them as well, and it didn't seem to be involving a brother- sister relationship. But I was prepared to leave it for them to bring up, though I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't have another party by the end of the summer.
After it looked like everyone had their fill and were just standing around talking, with the exception of the younger kids that would run off for a minute or two when their energy peaked, I made an announcement.
"Okay, everyone, gather' round! This morning Jeffy showed AJ an amazing magic trick and I thought it would be fun to have AJ try it on one of his friends."
Well, you can imagine that I got two very pronounced gasps from my two boys who were immediately by my side almost pawing at me.
"But, Pop, um, you can't really do that without some preparation, ya know, and . . ."
"Now don't worry, son. I took care of it. We just need to decide on a victim, right?" I whispered to Jeffy.
"Um, oh, uh, yeah. I s'pose so," he said with great doubt in his voice, as he scanned the crowd in front of us.
"But, Dad, what if it doesn't work like with me? I don't want to cream any of my friends. I don't think I know it good enough to do it right."
"Yeah, Pop. What about that? He doesn't want to cream any of his friends." Jeffy enunciated every word as he whispered his increasing concern.
"Oh, really," I said. "Well, I've got just the solution to fix that little problem."
"You want me to do it to AJ again?" asked Jeffy with a tad bit of mischievous grin.
"Um, not quite," I answered. Then I turned to everyone and announced, "This trick requires an assistant and Jeffy has graciously decided to be that vict . . . um, person." It was all I could do to keep from laughing.
"Wo-ow, Jeffy! You'd do that for me?"
"Wha . . .! Um, okay. I guess." Jeffy didn't sound very convinced but his die was cast.
I had AJ run into the kitchen to fetch the egg carton from the fridge and the salt shaker and carefully bring them back.
When he returned, I asked him if he remembered the trick well enough to do it again. He said he'd need help with the words, but he thought he remembered, then he gave Jeffy a snarl and said, "I remember the last part of it for sure."
Jeffy kind of cowered back a bit, realizing just what was in store for him.
"Don't worry, Jeffy. I prepared the trick this time and I guarantee this time it will have different results."
The relief that I could see in Jeffy's whole body was worth the effort toward the dramatic conclusion of our show.
"Oh, don't thank me just yet. Go for it, AJ."
"Okay, everybody, my brother showed me a magic trick this morning and I'm gonna do it again with him being the, uh, helper guy."
He opened the egg carton and looked inside. One egg was labeled 'AJ' and one was labeled 'J'. He looked up at me and smiled. Jeffy couldn't see into the egg carton from his angle.
AJ picked up his egg, immediately feeling the difference in weight. He gasped and looked again at his brother who sheepishly looked up, doing his whistling thing, imitating pure innocence. I've said he was a good actor.
"So, first we gotta take this egg and sprinkle it with salt, then cover it with this napkin." He did that then looked to Jeffy for the words.
Jeffy tried very hard to remember but I helped.
"Hocus, pocus, not boiled or fried. Leave this egg that it may be dried."
AJ picked up the egg in the palm of his hand and showed everyone, repeated the words, then slammed it against his forehead getting a gasp from almost everyone in the audience.
The smile he gave at his successful accomplishment of the trick was wonderful. He also received lots of applause and several 'wow's' from the youngest spectators.
But it was Jeffy's turn. His look wasn't quite as heartwarming as AJ's.
AJ handed a napkin to Jeffy then picked up the other egg and, after looking straight at me, gave it to his brother. His look was that of someone that was somewhat disappointed when he realized the weight of it was no different than the one he had just used. I think that look was also mixed with the realization that it was only a trick and certainly not magic.
When Jeffy felt the weight of the egg in his palm he snapped his head up to look at me and got the biggest grin on his face, then mouthed, 'thank you' to me.
"So, now, Jeffy, my brother standing here," announced the host, AJ, "Will do the trick again, I hope."
Jeffy plodded along with the confidence he showed the first time he introduced us to this feat of magic. He laid the egg carefully on the table, sprinkled it with salt and covered it with a napkin.
"Hocus, pocus, not boiled or fried. Leave this egg that it may be dried."
The crowd hushed, anticipating the outcome as he raised the egg in the palm of his hand, dramatically looked out at the audience with a wonderful look of confident awe in his smile, and smashed it again his forehead.
"EW-W-W!" said everyone under the age of twenty in the crowd, especially AJ and, of course, Jeffy, the splatted one. The rest of the group mostly gasped.
You see, I couldn't let Jeffy get away with abusing his brother and I didn't want AJ to feel like he had to retaliate because of the crimes performed by his brother, not that he would ever think of that. So I, as the loving and concerned father of my two boys, helped with the outcome. I'd blown out both of the eggs, sure enough, but then I filled Jeffy's with shaving cream, right before we'd eaten.
Jeffy had a face of soap and a look of utter humiliation. He looked up at me with the saddest puppy dog eyes. I almost felt sorry for him.
AJ, though, had to cover his mouth when he saw what happened to his brother. Then he looked over at me and gave me a big hug.
"So, Jeffy, maybe you should explain to all our friends why this little trick worked like it did this time, since not many of them will believe that chickens lay eggs with either nothing in them or that are filled with shaving cream."
Jeffy was a real good sport and, after wiping his forehead off with a towel that AJ ran to get his brother, he told the whole story of that morning.
All in all, it made for great entertainment. Both boys got lots of positive recognition for their parts in it.
So we had a great time and everyone stayed pretty late. The boys were all tuckered out. We got lots of hugs as everyone trailed off into the sunset. Judge Davenport had Jeb in their limo to take him home, even if it was only across the street.
Right before the three of us went up to bed Jeffy stopped me and smiled.
"Pop, thanks for doin' the trick today."
"You're thanking me for covering you with shaving cream?"
AJ butted in, right between us, as curious as I was.
"Yeah, see, I felt bad about what I did to AJ. Oh, it was funny and all, but AJ's so sweet and, well, you know. He doesn't deserve to have that done to him."
"Even as funny as it was?" I asked, impressed already with my son's confessions.
"Yeah, it was funny alright, but after a while it wasn't like I thought it'd be. I started to feel bad about hurtin' my bro."
"Really, Jeffy? You really felt like that?" asked AJ, practically climbing up his brother he was so excited.
"Sure, pipsqueak. I love you. I'm sorry I did that to you too and I promise . . ., well, maybe I should wait on that," he said, looking up at me.
"What? What were you gonna promise, Jeffy?" asked AJ.
"AJ, someone shouldn't make a promise that they can't keep. If Jeffy did another prank on you he'd break that promise and he doesn't want to do that to you."
"O-o-h. I get it. Wo-ow! You really must love me then, Jeffy. Thanks!" And he started up the stairs with a big AJ smile.
But then he stopped about midway up the stairs and turned with a very serious look.
"Hey! Does that mean you can do something like that to me again? How's that work? I think I want the promise, huh?"
"Well, as my beloved brother would say," said Jeffy, "Oops!"
And that's pretty much the part I accidently left out. We had a nice Sunday and met the last two and a half days of school for the boys well rested, like I already wrote in chapter thirty-three.
End of Chapter Thirty-four