The Little Pipsqueak
© 2012-2013 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.
Do you have any idea how awkward it was to ask for money? I was so glad that two of my boys were, by any standard, monetarily set for life. Jeffy had the money coming from his dad's insurance policy plus whatever became of the golf course and housing project around the lake. AJ had a trust from his very wealthy great grandfather. Of course Jeb so wanted to be a part of all that we did, he'd suggested many times that he provide a trust for me as well.
Thoughts like that had been permeating my mind for a few days while we were trying to design the additions to the house. Jeffy's ideas were to add everything from a gymnasium and indoor swimming pool to servants quarters for the staff he thought we needed to help cook for us, clean and even fold his clothes!
"But Pop, I do fold my clothes! And I put them away. What, Elliot?" said Jeffy indignantly, as he noticed his brother.
Elliot had been rolling his eyes. I would have to say that Elliot was possessed by a spirit of cleanliness and organization that did not equal any of the other three males in the house. Even he was tolerant of the results of the effort put forth when it was there. But lately ...
"Have you looked in his drawers and on his shelves, Pop? I don't know why he bothers to wad up his clothes so neatly ..."
"Hey! I'm like right here, ya know!"
AJ was rolling around at my feet with his hand over his mouth, not doing a very good job of keeping quiet with his laughter.
"Daniel, have you ever looked at my side to see how it's done properly?"
"Oh man, your side looks like the clothes at the store still. I'd swear you never wore any of 'em once."
"But I do on a regular basis. I just take a little more care in their placement once they go back onto the shelves, bro!" Elliot hardly ever used slang, except to get at his brother.
"Hey, AJ, stop laughin'," his brother called out. "You're no better at it than I am."
"Ha ha ha ha, yeah but I'm just a little pipsqueak, huh, Dad?"
"Yes, but you're our pipsqueak, son."
"So, does that mean we don't get servants or what?" asked the messiest of us.
"It does. Oh, we might want to include an extra bedroom for guests ..."
"Or an extra brother sometime, huh?" piped up the youngest, jumping up and crawling onto my legs, sprawling his torso over me.
"I don't think that will happen, my boy," I answered him while rubbing his back. "I can't imagine a reason for taking in another child right now." I guess I didn't sound too persuasive to at least one of the guys on the floor in front of me.
"However?" asked Elliot, leading me on.
"Well, you've got me figured out. You all know I would never let another soul go through what you guys have been through, even if it meant hanging kids from the ceiling in hammocks."
"What's a hammock, Dad?"
"A hammock is a rectangle made of netting or canvas that's suspended by rope or twine and hung in such a way as to make a bed for its occupant," Elliot answered for me. "They were used a lot aboard ships because they wouldn't rock when the ship did."
"Geez, El, you sounded just like Tyler for a minute," said Jeffy sitting back on his haunches.
We then spent some time telling Elliot about Tyler and how we came to know him ...
"... Even rescue him, didn't you, Dad."
"Okay, I helped a bit. The point is I'd never turn someone down. I'm just very glad we live in a small community."
"Ha, ha, Pop, you'd end up takin' in a whole army o' kids, wouldn't you," laughed Jeffy.
"If they needed saving and there was a way, you aren't too far off, Jeffy."
"Gosh, Pop, you are a hero. I could never thank you enough for all you've done in the little time I've known you, but you literally saved my life, well, you and the boys," extoled Elliot on me.
"You mean your brothers, don't you?" I offered.
Elliot built up another big and glorious smile, complete with the pinkest cheeks, before he answered me, "Yeah, I really do. Thanks, family."
We talked about ideas for the remodel, mostly sensible ones. We talked about enlarging the kitchen and modernizing it. After a while I decided I really needed a professional to help me with the planning. That's when the worry about where the money was coming from kicked in.
That very afternoon we all moseyed, Elliot evidently hadn't moseyed before so AJ had to show him, over to Jeb's just to say hey. Okay, I thought about asking him but, really, it was just a visit. I so loved to see Jeb interact with the boys.
"Pop, moseying is just walking, right?" Elliot asked as he watched AJ walk pretty much the same as the rest of us. That was saying a lot for the boy who would generally run back and forth a dozen times before we got anywhere.
"Well, I guess it's a measure of attitude, Elliot. If you're swinging your hips and have your nose in the air, you're strutting, right? Well, if you're just taking it easy and have time on your side, I guess they call that moseying."
"O-o-oh." He still didn't look too sure about how he should be walking. Elliot was a stickler for being precise as well as neat and clean.
"Well, tarnation! Look who's here!" said Jeb in his normal voice, several decibels above average. "Come in, come in. Shake the dust off and set a spell. My, I think it's been, how long, yesterday since I saw you all? Ha ha ha ha ha!"
"You saw me this morning, Great Grampa; 'member?"
"'Course I do, little po-dunk. I always look forward to your beautiful smiles," Jeb answered as he blocked our entry until we'd each given him the required password to get in - a big hug.
Somehow, Elliot managed to get in free, though. I think he slipped past when Jeb was busy hugging Jeffy. His action didn't get past Jeb completely though. He gave me a wink and a nod toward the stealthy one, then finished his hugging.
As we settled into the living room, AJ followed Jeb to his chair, waited for his favorite relative to sit, and then leaned over and whispered something into his great grampa's ear. He looked over at Elliot twice, then whispered some more.
"Ha! Sure thing, young 'un. Elliot, my boy, I have an offer to make you the likes of which you've never heard before."
"I, uh, me?" said the boy looking to Jeffy and me for understanding.
"I dunno what they're up to, El. Could be anything. Usually good though," said his brother, nodding his head with an air of knowledge.
"Yup, you. You're the only Elliot around. Ha! So, since you're one of Tim's boys and since my great grandson is also one of the boys, I hereby declare you to be my great grandson, too, if you want, and you can look forward to all the wonderful privileges the title affords you. Now, how's that?"
"Wo-ow! Really, Great Grampa? All that?" exclaimed AJ for Elliot.
Elliot was a little taken back by Jeb from the minute he'd first met him. He wasn't used to socializing much, certainly not with an old sidewinding coot like Jeb. So he was a little unsure about how to react. Oh, nature did make one decision for him and warmed up his cheeks to a nice shade of pink.
"Um, thank you, sir. I, uh, I don't know what to say." Again he looked at both Jeffy and me.
Jeffy just shrugged his shoulders.
"Just what do I need to do to gain this status, sir?
"Well, first you can quit callin' me sir. I'm great grampa now, if you will. Second, I think you covered the other requirement with your thank you."
"Great Grampa, what's all the stuff he gets that Jeffy and I been gettin'?"
"Hm-m-m. Come over here, boy," commanded Jeb of Elliot, waving his hand and scooting to the edge of his recliner.
Elliot slowly made his way to stand just outside of Jeb's reach. He was looking for support and I was smiling and nodding my head.
"Come on, come on. I don't bite. Well, not too hard anyway. Ha!"
The 'Ha!' scared Elliot a little but he took a step closer anyway; enough so Jeb could grab him up in a big bear hug. He quickly let the boy go and Elliot fell back right on his bottom. I don't think he was hurt but I saw a tear make its way down his cheek.
Slowly, like the sun coming over the horizon to start a beautiful bright morning, a smile began to form on Elliot that didn't quit until he'd got up and crawled over to his new great grampa. He planted his hands on both of Jeb's knees, this time making Jeb sit up and take notice.
"I never, I mean, you're like the first that's ... Oh Pop, sure enough but you, you did it."
"Boy, are you sure you didn't have your brain tucked into your britches when you fell on them just now?" asked Elliot's new relative, chuckling through every word.
As we were all starting to laugh, it took Elliot a minute to recover enough to realize it was a joke.
"Wo-ow. That's the privileges, Great Grampa? Wo-ow. Elliot, you're rich!"
"Uh huh. There doesn't need to be any money to be rich. Whenever somebody loves ya that much, you're richer 'n rich." AJ was beaming at his newest brother.
"Hmmm, yeah I am."
"So, family? God I do like the sound of that - family. Hm-m-m, been a long time," reminisced Jeb, until he shook his head to clear it and gave us a smile. "Sentimental old fool, ya know. Anyway, we got a lot of talkin' ta do, your family and now mine, Tim."
"We do?" came at least three voices, one of them mine. Elliot, I'm sure wasn't caught up on everything going on yet.
"Well, yes. Daniel, we've got to set up some meetings to get you invested with that little paltry amount of $100,000." He looked over to me and said, "His step dad was more than happy to make up the difference in the insurance settlement that was comin' to the boy, ya know. "Course, Judge Davenport helped him a bit with the decision."
"A hundred ...!" gasped Elliot, looking over at Jeffy.
"It's nothing', El. Just something my real father left me."
"Course it's nothin'," huffed Jeb. "Now, we need to decide how we're goin' to go about making use of the land you own and whether we want to go ahead and do the golf course and condos or just part, or maybe even sell the place off and be done with it."
"Huh?" came from Elliot again.
I was beginning to think that this conversation may have been best said out of his hearing, convinced rather, after Jeb continued.
"Yup, 'course we do that and it may only be worth a little more than two and a half million instead of the 49 million my people estimated full development would bring you and your investors."
I'll have to say, Jeffy was taking all this in like a pro. It didn't seem to mean any more to him than figures on a ledger. AJ was giggling through the whole thing, looking at Elliot. I was looking at Elliot too, but mostly to make sure he didn't go into a full-blown seizure.
"Forty-nine mill ...?"
"El, it's just money, ya know," confirmed Jeffy, then turning to his great grampa-elect and financial advisor, he asked. "Great Grampa, what's the deal about the investors? It won't be just me?"
"Nope. Can't. You'll need capitol to start the project and we won't want to sell any of that prime land to make it for you. But I have ideas about that too. I'd like to be an investor, Jeffy, but there's a problem."
Let's see, Elliot still had his mouth hanging open, drooling even, AJ was drawing on the pattern of the carpet with his finger, getting bored, I'm sure, and Jeffy and I were on the edge of our seats. It was really exciting news.
"See, if'n I invest the whole thing then I'll get taxed to death. So, I was thinking about making trusts for both AJ, who is my heir anyway, and for Tim, who will also inherit part of my estate."
"Wait, now what?" I said, practically falling off the chair I'd been sitting on.
"Yes, yes, don't get excited. It'll only be a million or so to start, that is, over and above any we give you to invest with us. Oh, my, it looks like we have a newbie that ought to be included too, Elliot?"
"Yes, sir, um, I mean Great Grampa?" answered Elliot, sitting up a little straighter.
"I think being a part of this family, you'll have to put up with the burden of a trust fund yourself. Now, some of that may not come until after I'm gone, but you deserve some too, don'tcha think?"
I think Elliot's head and my head were both swimming. I think I just heard something about ...
"So, if'n I put that in trust now, we can use that and save me a lick of taxes. I think then any profit we make can be added to your investments. Oh, by the way, Tim, we did talk about your house, having another son and all. If you don't mind, I have you scheduled for a contractor of mine that's really well versed in design as well. He'll be comin' by this next week. You just pick the time."
"I uh, I uh, I'm ..." And I really was, totally speechless. "But I can't afford ..."
"Boy, you been listening to me? Youngsters, I don't know how they get to be growed up sometimes," he said, mostly to himself. "We'll work out details but we both know your financial status and I know mine, so it's on me. I will not have my great grandson, no, two, Ha! No, three great grandsons living in a cramped space. They need to grow, expand, blossom!" His voice kept getting louder and his hands were going into the air showing us what blossoming and expanding boys looked like.
Well, I can assure you, this boy was about to explode.
"Jeb, you know I can't ..."
"Oh, stop. You know as well as I do how much we both love our boys. We want the best and I can't tolerate waitin' when the funds are available now. Besides, if you really wanted, you could pay me back after our investments started paying off."
"Oh, well then ... I could?"
"Sure thing. I estimate the first payment would buy each of you one of them there condos and a new car, to say nothin' of a little fixin' up of your place, or rebuilding it for that matter."
"Wo-ow!" No, that was me, not AJ.
I looked over at Elliot and he was almost sobbing.
"But Great Grampa Harding?" asked Jeffy.
"Ha! Like you've got some other great grampa lurking around somewhere?" laughed Jeb.
Jeffy blushed then brightened up. "No, but I got a great aunt and uncle. Does that count?"
Jeb leaned toward the boy in front of him, slapped his own knees and did his guffaw. "Ha! Boy, it sure does count. I guess you got me there. So, what's on your mind, youngster?"
"Um, let's see ... Oh yeah, um, when should I come over and we can talk about redoin' your place real nice and bright?"
"You get to help him do that?" asked Elliot, sitting up a little.
"He sure does. Let's see, I have a few days free this month, like ... all of them. Ha! Boy, you pick a day and come over. I'm available if I'm here and not on the pot."
Well, that was about the funniest answer either Jeffy or AJ had ever heard by the way they were rolling around on the floor. Even Elliot, though it took him a second to scrunch up his nose at the thought, started to giggle.
"Um, can I ...?" Elliot quietly asked Jeffy.
"Hey, yeah. That'd be great, El. Sure, come with me, huh, Great Grampa?
"You bet, Jeffy. That's a great idea. Ha! I'll put you both ta work." He was having the time of his life. You'd think it was his birthday and each time he opened a new topic it would feel to him like he'd opened a wonderful present.
"Well, it's the least I can do for you being so generous to me, sir."
"What? Sir? Who's a sir?"
"Oops," said AJ for Elliot.
"Oh, no, no, I meant Great Grampa. Really I did," shouted Elliot, but the best thing about that was that he was laughing with the rest of us.
I sure loved my kids, but there's nothing better than seeing a change in attitude and the boy, Elliot, letting something like his humor flood his senses so he could be just that - a boy again. I know I appreciated seeing that every time and I don't think the experience was lost on Jeb either.
He looked deep into Elliot's eyes as he let the boys laugh. Then he looked over at me, wiped a tear and nodded his approval of what he'd seen.
Jeb and I talked about particulars concerning the remodel of my, no, our house. I was starting to get excited and looked forward to some time with the contractor. We decided on a date and Jeb said he'd set it up at the house, of course.
The kids were walking around the old house looking at everything that needed fixing. Jeb had grown too old and too filled with his own grief to do anything around the place for so many years, that is, until AJ came into his life, stealing his blueberries. He was now ready to proceed with a complete new paint job in all the rooms. It would mean peeling old wallpaper and repairing cracks and holes. Then there was the outside. It needed painting as well and some of the fancy bric-a-brac needed replacing on the old place.
I noticed that the floors were hardwood so refinishing them would be necessary and beautiful. That would brighten up the place immeasurably.
By the time we were talked out we invited Jeb back to our place for dinner. Needless to say he had three young boys walking beside him the whole way, one of them hand in hand.
"Hey, look, everyone. I'm moseyin'!" laughed Elliot, copying the way AJ skipped along.
"Nu-uh," corrected AJ. "I'm not moseyin' yet. This is kinda, well, skippin'. Huh, Great Grampa?"
"Whatever it is, if it gets you to where the food is, it can't be a bad way to go!"
It was sure fun to see our kids crack up laughing at just about the craziest things. God, how I loved them.
So, while I do hate asking for money, it sure was nice to have what we needed to make a home for all my kids, especially when I didn't have to ask for it. I should have known that Jeb had it all worked out before we got there. Oh, I found out much later that AJ would talk about what was bothering me sometimes, when he went over to take blueberries to Jeb, like what I felt we needed to allow everyone in our growing family to be comfortable. Not plush, just comfy. I guess that's what promoted the invitation to a trust fund.
I think AJ was a little annoyed with my insistence about his new suit, his first ever, of course. We both knew what event was coming up and we'd talked about it, naturally. I'm pretty sure he still would have said yes to going ahead with the event even if he'd known he was going to wear a suit.
He was so funny when the tailor knelt down to mark the legs to fit the slacks to AJ's size. AJ stepped back real quick and almost fell off the raised dais they used for the customers to stand on. The man grabbed his pants leg and pulled him back. I had the hardest time stifling a laugh when the tailor reached up between AJ's legs to straighten out the seams and mark the length. AJ's eyes went saucers as he glared at me, he carefully looked down at the bald head below him, then showed his relief when the man immediately moved on to mark his cuff.
He started to put up a fuss about the tie, until he saw a picture of a rock band that was wearing some pretty nifty clothes. Theirs were much wilder than we were getting, but at least they had ties on. So I let him pick out his own tie after the tailor set out plenty in the right colors for him to choose from.
The shoes were another trial by fire. Okay, I'd never had a problem with AJ with anything I asked of him, but this was a bit too serious for him and he really wanted to wear his sneakers. Again I pointed to the picture of the band. Only one of them had good looking dress shoes on, and I promised it would only be for about an hour, so he submitted. As it was, we found some comfortable, nice looking brushed suede loafers with crepe soles that looked classic, were just dressy enough, and he was very comfortable in them.
We'd left Jeffy and Elliot at home, just to chill out while we shopped, so AJ wanted to buy them something from the clothing store for our big day. He immediately went to the rack of suits but I reminded him of all the work the tailor would have to do before it would look good on the two boys. He finally found dress shirts that were pretty spiffy and cool ties that complimented each shirt. Actually, I found out that AJ had pretty good taste in clothes and their color.
I also bought all four of us long raincoats, the cashmere kind. They were expensive but they looked so good on the two of us and would be the only thing that really matched us both or all four if the boys wore theirs. I fell in love with them immediately. Even AJ liked the feel of the soft material. I knew we wouldn't need them until fall but I just had to have them. I couldn't wait to see everything on my little pipsqueak. He was going to look like a prince; my prince. My thoughts then drifted to getting to put Jeffy through the same hell to see him look great too, but another time. I think Elliot, though, had a suit in all the clothes he brought with him.
Pizzas made the night a success. Jeffy was just walking in from the kitchen when we walked into the house. He said someone called for him and he'd been on the phone for a while. Elliot, surprise, surprise, was lying on the couch reading.
It was the very day we got AJ's suit from the tailor's that we got the call about the date of our most important event. It only gave us a few days to call everyone to be there if they could. It was going to be the greatest day of my recent life. I hoped AJ felt the same way. No, I knew he did. He'd had many great days lately, but this was to be something we had both only dreamed about.
End of Chapter Thirty-eight