The Little Pipsqueak

© 2012-2013 Matthew Templar
matemp1148@yahoo.com
Thanks again to RCN for his editing wizardry. It makes for a smoother read.

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.

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Chapter Fifty-four


The smells were the same as he remembered them, though not quite as pungent. He looked around, then up into the open rafters. Around his feet, the floor had been swept clear of the material that had once been used for his bed when he'd gather it into his little room to sleep.

Then he remembered the place! His special place! It was certainly one of the most important places ever in the boy's world not too many months before then. His excitement seemed to precede him as he turned and looked in that direction.

He walked to the corner of the big space, its total area that, curiously, did not look as vast as he had remembered it.

He was about to open the door and peer inside, into his special place. Instinctively, he looked behind him to see if he was being spied upon. He smiled when he saw his mother and his friend watching him. The relief he felt, even in that instant, was profound, totally different than . . . before. He almost laughed at himself when he realized that he was a world apart from that time in his life.

But when he opened the door he found the room totally empty. He gasped! No boxes! No treasures. Every one of his precious books - all were gone! His head began to swim with the memories of the constant disappointments and . . .

That's when he felt the gentle touch on his shoulder and heard the voice of his favorite person in the world.

"Son, don't worry. All the books had to be moved so they wouldn't get damaged when they began to clean up the barn. Your books are perfectly safe. In fact, I think they are already on their way to our house where we can put them on bookshelves in the extra bedroom and make it your library, if you'd like that."

His face quickly turned from panic to a growing warmth that turned into another wonderful smile. The tears he felt were created from the love and warmth that rushed through him.

"Mom, you think of everything. Thank you so much. I think that, just like my animal friends and just like the house and this barn, they are my friends too. They kept me, well, they kept me alert and with a purpose, a hope, I think."

Linda Sue put her hand on my arm to include me as she said, "Tyler, I knew they were important to you. That meant they are important to me too. I would never let them be taken from you. And Tim knew that too. He's the one that had them moved to protect them."

Tyler's eyes were wet but it didn't stop him from looking over at me and smiling, then walking up to me and giving me a hug.

"Thank you, Tim. Thank you for understanding. I guess 'friends' may not be the right word, but they were all I had, those books and my animals."

"You are more than welcome, Tyler. May we come over to see your library when you've got all the books on your shelves? I'm sure my boys as well as Dan's, would love to see the books that made you so smart."

Tyler blushed and looked at his feet, reminding me of how shy he could be.

"I, um, I would like that. But really, they are just books. They may not be as important to someone else like they were to me."

"Tyler, I assure you, anyone that knows your story would want to see your books. They're a part of you," I told him. Then I pointed toward his brain. "In fact they are really a part of you."

We all smiled. Tyler hugged his mother.

Then he showed us the space that was Tyler's 'room'. It was no more than a horse's stall with thick chicken wire surrounding it. Unlike the other stalls, a padlock adorned the clasp that held the gate closed. The inside had already been cleaned out. When I said that the workers must have already removed his bed, he told me that, yes, they had cleaned out all the straw. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was the only bed he'd known until he was in the hospital, then with Linda Sue in his first home.

Once more I found myself with damp eyes, whether for the life this gentle angel endeared for so long, a fate no person should ever have to live, or because he had come so far, so wonderfully sweet and pure in such a short time, to enjoy all the blessings such a beautiful, enchanting boy should be gifted with.

We took one last look around the cleared space and walked back toward the house.

The barn was the first place Tyler wanted to see. It was more his space than the house ever was, so few times he was ever allowed to stay inside except to clean and service the old man.

It was the day after Tyler and Linda Sue talked about his barn and house. The men had done such a great job on everything in such a short time, I'm sure that the inside of the house was much cleaner than when Tyler remembered it. Except the kitchen, bathrooms, and anywhere that had been carpeted.

The kitchen and bathrooms were gutted and the carpet had been removed already. I was told a truck parked outside had new appliances for both the kitchen and bathrooms, ready to be installed. The bathrooms were almost ready to have the tubs and showers installed. The sinks and the kitchen would have to wait until the cabinets, that had been ordered, arrived.

Jeffy and Elliot were as excited as kids ready to be let loose at Disneyland.

"Pop, have you seen all this? They've done so much in here," shouted Jeffy in his joy, although I was standing right beside him.

"And, Pop, Enrique's father starts work on Monday, but great grampa went to the owner of his apartment and settled up for last month and a whole month more so they wouldn't be thrown out before the house was done." Elliot was animated like Jeffy, something very rare in the serious boy.

"Well, boys, you should be very proud of what you're doing for the family. I know they'll be very thankful to you both for your help in keeping them up here and safe from their money troubles."

"Thanks, Pop. It was great that we had all that money to use to help them. It really feels good to see what good it can do, just like great grampa said it would," said Jeffy.

Then Tyler walked up to the boys and took a hand of each of the boys in his.

"Elliot and Daniel, you two have made me very happy, you know."

Both the boys were flabbergasted that Tyler was addressing them in this way. It just wasn't something they'd ever seen him do before. But his smile said he was speaking from his pure heart. That was something we were all very accustomed to.

"I want you to know that this place, these two buildings and everything around here were my world only a short time ago. I think people might have thought I would not like them because of the memories about that old man and the bad sheriff. But I love the barn and I even like some places of the house where I know that old man never went. I liked the smells in the little room in the hall where we kept the clean sheets and towels and things. I liked them especially when they came out of the dryer, all warm and smelling nice again.

"But mostly, I want you both to know how happy I am that these places and this land can be used by very good people. And it's you two that saw to that. Thank you for making me so happy."

Both boys were acting about as shy and humble as I've ever seen them. Then Tyler dropped their hands and grabbed them up in a huge hug. They didn't even have time to put their hands around their friend.

"Tyler, what a wonderful thing to say to your friends," commented Linda Sue, who must have been continually proud of her young man.

"Oh, Mom, it's so easy to say wonderful things when wonderful things are happening. A whole family gets to use this place and raise their children and see them grow to be happy like we are. What could be better than that?"


"You've made my son and his family very happy, Tim McGill."

Dan's call came just a day after Enrique's father, Matias, started working for Jeb's partner at the auto dealership in town.

"Thanks for telling me, Dan. I'll tell the boys, as if Elliot didn't already know."

"Ha! Yes, I'm sure there was some discussion about it and maybe even a few displays of 'thank you's from Enrique to Elliot at this morning's bike ride, I'm guessing. Well, I'll miss the boy but he won't be too far away to drop in and say 'hey'."

"Does Enrique actually know about the farm? Has he told his parents? I know they haven't visited yet."

"Yes, they know that it's a possibility. They don't know this is all being done specifically for them. I think they plan to see the farm this weekend. They were under such duress from thinking they'd have to move out, seek a new temporary place, then move South, that I think they just want some chill time."

"Does that mean that arrangements can be started to begin to move Enrique back with his family?"

"Sure does. Linda Sue is working on that with Judge Harrington. She seems to think it should go very smoothly."

"Oh boy. I can't wait until he and Elliot live across the way from each other. Won't that be relaxing?" I told my good friend, tongue in cheek.

That got a big laugh out of my good friend.

"Dan, have Enrique's parents call me. Oh, and feel free to bring the clan too if you're thinking about coming. Maybe we can end up here with a barbeque or something."

"Hey, that sounds really great. Everybody? Are you sure?"

"Everybody, Dan. You know that. And I know that Tyler would love to see the family's reaction to see his place all spiffed up."

"Yeah. He's been really active lately, anticipating that moment. Enrique is too. I don't know if he's more excited to see his family's reaction or to see Tyler experience it. It's really cute seeing them talk about it."

I couldn't help but take a moment to ponder how fortunate we were to see such happenings take place that made so many people happy all at once.

"Ti-im? You there, pal?"

"Sorry, I was just thinking how fortunate we've been lately. It's been a wild ride at times, but, for the most part, it's been very exciting and positive."

"Yes, it's been a whirlwind at times. I'm very fortunate as well, my friend, very fortunate, indeed."


The very next day I received a call from Enrique's father, Matias, asking if he and his family could visit the farm that was being remodeled. I laid the way for their visit the next weekend, adding that if they would attend a barbeque at our house, across the road from the farm in question, we could all get to know each other better. I also warned him that Dan's entire clan would also be attending as well. Matias laughed and assured me that they would look forward to the party.

Both Enrique and Elliot were as crazy as I'd ever seen them, waiting for the family to arrive that Saturday. When the old station wagon pulled up I was afraid Enrique would get too close before the car stopped.

"Enrique, control yourself, young man. Where are your manners?" said the woman that got out of the passenger side of the car. Of course, it was his mother.

Enrique froze where he stood, well, all but his head and a silly smile. He looked to his family, then to Elliot, back again, then to me, then swooped his arm around to show them the farm, which, of course, was right in front of them. He was being so funny.

"Please make the introductions, Enrique," I asked, just before his mother was about to ask.

Her smile was pleasant.

"Mr. Tim McGill, may I introduce my father and mother, Matias and Matilda Fuentes. Also, my grandmother, Maria Hernandez, my mother's mother. Oh, and these are my two brothers and my sister."

He did a fine job. His mother came up to him and ruffled up his hair, which he tried to slide away from. Unfortunately, he moved right into the path of his grandmother, who grabbed his chin and pulled him into a kiss.

"Abuelita!"

She answered with a throaty laugh and popped him gently on the side of his head. It was a gesture very familiar to the boy. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her until she hollered at him, then swung again as he laughed and jumped away.

"Children!" said Mrs. Fuentes, shaking her head.

Enrique was quick to get hugs from both of his parents. They hadn't seen each other in several weeks and they were obviously very close. His siblings seemed genuinely excited to have their brother with them again as well, if only for the day.

Dan's big SUV pulled up and soon the area was alive with even more kids.

"Ah, Señor Dan, what a pleasure," said Matias, extending his hand.

"Thank you, Matias. Have you met Tim McGill, our host today?"

"We were just getting through introductions when you pulled up. Señor McGill, we are honored to meet you and your family."

We all shook hands and I asked my boys to come closer to be introduced. Jeffy was holding the baby.

"First, please everyone, call me Tim. These are my boys. Perhaps you have met Elliot."

Both Elliot and Enrique, standing next to each other, were blushing.

"No, we have not had the pleasure yet. It was something we looked forward to today."

Elliot had the good manners to step forward. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Fuentes," he said extending his hand.

After they shook, I continued, "This is my son, Jeffy, with my grandson, Lewis. And this is my son, as well, AJ, well, Andrew James."

"Pleased ta meetcha," said AJ, taking a step forward and actually saluting.

"AJ!"

All the other kids thought it was hilarious, as did the Fuentes. Grandma, however, didn't laugh.

"Kids, Tim," said Matias. "What can you do? And please call us Matias and Matilda."

Just then another car drove up and Linda Sue and Tyler got out.

To say the atmosphere was almost magical would be as close as I can describe what was happening. Almost everyone except the Fuentes and Grandma anticipated Tyler's reaction to seeing his old home but also seeing this new family visit it for the first time.

"Matias, Matilda, Grandma Hernandez, I'd like to introduce you to my fiancée, Linda Sue, and her son, Tyler Cottington. They were both eager to see the place as it was being remodeled."

I thought he did that rather well without going into any history concerning Tyler. No one seemed to think differently and we turned to look at the front of the house.

"If you don't mind, I guess I'd like to be your guide," I said to no one in particular. "Remember that the farm is still in an uproar as there's still plenty of work to be done."

"Kids," shouted Dan, "Let the adults look around, then you can come in later. Don't track dirt in, please. Until then, just look around out here."

"Yes, sir," was heard from at least four of the kids.

We headed toward the house and walked in. It looked so much fresher and brighter than when we'd seen it only days before.

I quickly turned to Tyler to see his reaction. He looked stunned, yet starry-eyed. It was as though it wasn't even the same house. All of the old fixtures, furniture and drab colors had been replaced with immaculate, tasteful furnishings.

"Mom, it's like it's all brand new. I like all the bright walls and the furniture and things. It's so wonderful!"

The Fuentes were a little taken back by his emotions until Dan whispered in their ears. Realization swept their faces and I realized that they had known the story of the boy that had been kidnapped and almost died during the police raid on the farm. That's when they first found out that it was that very place, and that Tyler was that boy.

Linda Sue saw their reaction and approached them.

"I hope this doesn't affect your decision to move in or not. It's just that my son believes that this house and the barn were his friends when he lived here. He so much wanted to see them again and to see a family enjoy them."

Matilda Fuentes had a tear in her eye as she turned to see Tyler's actions in a totally new light.

"Oh, are you sure it is okay that we consider moving here? I wouldn't want to spoil such feelings that the boy has."

"On the contrary, he is so looking forward to someone else taking care of his friends, as he puts it."

"But," said Matias. His face showed concern as he looked around, touching the new moldings and the mantle over the fireplace. "I don't see a way that we can afford such a . . . a mansion."

"A mansion? It's just a four-bedroom house, to which they will start to add another two bedrooms and baths. It's just a simple ranch style, really," I tried to assure them.

"Still, Tim, we come from meager means and, well, this is much too nice for us to be able to afford, even with my new job."

"Nonsense!" came the bellow from the front door.

Jeb came through with AJ practically hanging on his arm.

"Matias, Matilda, I'd like . . ." I started.

"Oh, oh, Dad, can I introduce Great Grampa?" asked my son.

I nodded with a smile and then gave him a serious look. But I had no need to worry.

"Sir, ma'am, um, ma'ams," he said, looking at Grandma Hernandez, "May I introduce my very own great grampa, Mr. Jeb . . . something Harding.

"Jebediah, you whippersnapper," laughed Jeb.

"Oh yeah, Jebediah Harding," the boy finished as he hung onto his great grampa's hand and smiled a bright, beautiful smile.

"Um, Mr. Harding, it's nice to meet such a generous man in person. My whole family appreciates what you have done for us, to help us stay in this area, but I can hardly take any more advantage of you than we already have, sir," said Matias, holding out his hand to shake that of his benefactor.

"I won't hear of it. I'll be honest with you, Mr. Fuentes, the boys here came up with the idea to make this place available to you, period. If the rent is too high, we'll lower it. Makes no never mind ta us. Right, boys?" he asked, turning to Jeffy and Elliot, who had followed Jeb and AJ into the house.

"Um, no sir . . . I mean, yes sir. We want Enrique's family to have something they can enjoy instead of just get by. Right, Elliot?" Jeffy asked his brother.

"Mr. Fuentes, this way you can concentrate on other, more important things besides using all your hard earned money on rent." Elliot was smiling so big. He was as cute and proud as I'd ever seen him.

"I, uh, I . . ." Matias was speechless.

Matilda took his hand, they turned and they talked back and forth for just a minute, before he turned back to us.

"Excuse our rudeness, but we needed to make a decision. We have decided that your offer is far too generous for us to even consider . . ."

I think we all gasped when we heard that.

". . . but we have also decided that it was far too good to pass up."

The sighs and laughs spread through all of us. Soon we were all congratulating our new neighbors for making the right decision and the boys and Jeb for their gift to the Fuentes. Matilda took a minute to relay the information to Grandma Hernandez, who walked up to Jeb.

Her closeness, as well as her smile, startled Jeb and he looked very uncomfortable and nervous.

"Señor Harding, you do a fine thing for my family. I want to thank you for all you have done. Please, if I may, I would like to offer my services to care for your home to help make up some of what you are giving to us."

"Oh, um, well, um," stammered Jeb, looking at the rest of us as if asking to be rescued. "I do rightly thank you for the offer, ma'am, but um, well . . ."

"Grandma Hernandez," said Elliot, "What Great Grampa means is that his house is also undergoing remodeling right now and is all torn up, well, some. It will take quite a while to get it to the place where it would do any good to keep up with the dirt."

"Ah, I see. Well, señor, please let me help when the house is completed. I will be right across the street, no?" she asked with a big smile.

"Um, thank you. We'll certainly have time to discuss it, won't we?" asked Jeb, breathing a sigh of relief.

Later, at the barbeque at our house, I took Jeb aside and asked him what was going on.

"I've never seen you so nervous as you were back there, Jeb. What gives?"

"Tim, I thought she was comin' on ta me! I swear! Had me in a tizzy I haven't felt in years, hell, decades!"

I couldn't help myself. I started laughing. He looked over toward Grandma Hernandez to make sure she wasn't still looking for him.

"Jeb, I think she honestly just wants to do something to support her family. It sounded like something she had to offer you for your kindness. That's all."

"Well, if'n you say so. But I'll tell you, any negotiatin' with her, I'll need you there to protect me, Tim. You gotta promise!"

"I will, I promise, my friend."

At the barbeque, we all had a great time and got to know our new neighbors a little more. They were just real people, concerned with raising their kids a little better than they were raised, providing just a bit more for them. You could see their love for their children in the way they treated them. Actually, as I looked around, all the parents were pretty much doing the same, just like good parents should.

It would have been in bad taste to mention what Enrique had gone through to put him into foster care at Dan's. I truly believed that he had either changed from who he was or it wasn't what authorities thought it was in the first place. Either way, they were going to get to be a family again, and altogether, at last.

"Tim, you gave us a grand party. My family hasn't celebrated like this in a very long time. Gracias, to you and your family."

Matias again reached out to shake my hand, but I wouldn't have any of that. I went right past it and gave him a hug.

Matilda was next. I could see tears well up in her eyes as she too thanked me. I guess my hug squeezed the tears out of her because she was wiping away streaks when we parted our hug.

"Well, Señor Tim, am I to get one of your hugs as well?" asked Grandma Hernandez with her hands on her hips.

While everyone around us laughed I grabbed her up in a particularly wonderful hug, if I do say so myself. I figured anyone that could make Jeb Harding as nervous as he'd been was worth a big hug. The big grin on her face was all the payment I needed to make it worthwhile.

Soon all the kids were hugging too as though it was a big joke. They were laughing so hard they'd fall over when they were released from whoever hugged them that time.


When I awoke the sun was streaming into my room. I lay on my side, facing the wall, as my eyes adjusted to the light of the new day. I rolled over, a sheet the only covering needed for the warm nights of summer.

Directly across the room, no more than a few feet was Lewis' crib, at almost the same height as my mattress. Looking through the bars, even grasping one with each of his plump hands, was my little cherub, quietly smiling as he looked expectantly, anticipating a new day for him, no doubt. I couldn't help but laugh at his look. As I did his eyes seemed to catch fire, twinkling with delight.

I threw back my sheet and stepped from my bed to grab up my bundle and pull him into bed with me. It didn't last too long. Lewis was not one to be denied a fresh diaper as soon as practical, though he was pretty patient with me.


Robed and with a dry, dressed baby in his high chair, I set about concocting another feast to break the boys' fast since the evening before. Okay, I was making breakfast!

As smells of bacon wafted up the stairs, soon the feet of hungry vultures were heard plodding down the stairs.

Elliot had pulled on a t-shirt to make himself somewhat presentable along with his summer bed clothes, his boxers. Jeffy was, well, Jeffy, unabashedly scratching his boxer brief clad butt and rubbing his bare chest as he landed into his chair at the table.

Orange juice was set before them and they were smart enough not to talk before each had swallowed half their glassful.

Lewis was getting antsy to have the boys recognize his presence. Jeffy poked his tummy and leaned in to talk baby talk to the satisfied youngster.

"Pop, I'm afraid Jeffy's gone nutso on us finally," offered Elliot without looking up from his drink.

"What do you mean, 'finally'," asked Jeffy, turning from his conversation with Lewis.

"Exactly! I guess he's just proving conclusively that he's nuts," agreed Elliot in all seriousness.

I was turning pancakes and gently giggling at their exchange.

"What do you mean, Elliot?" I finally asked.

"Well, the last few nights I noticed him doing something with his hands over his head at night, right before he rolled over to sleep, maybe for as long as half an hour."

"Um, you noticed that?" asked a very embarrassed Jeffy.

"Well, it's kinda hard not to, since we do still share the same bed and all. Your hands are over your head and making like you're conducting a small orchestra or something. What gives?"

"Um, well, nothing really. It's nothing."

"Oh, come on. You can tell us. We won't laugh or anything."

"Yes you will."

"Laugh at what? I like to laugh," said AJ as he plodded into the room rubbing his eyes. For some odd reason he'd pulled on a pair of briefs to cover his usual dress for bed, nothing. He sat next to Lewis and, after taking a drink of his juice, offered some to his little nephew.

"See? Can't we just change the subject? You'll all think I really flipped out or something."

"No, brother. We already think that. At least now you'll have a reason for us to think that," said his older brother, as though offering justification for Jeffy's actions. "It'll be like hard facts."

"Jeffy, if you don't want to tell us, you don't have to, as long as it's not something to do with a health issue or something," their practical dad interjected.

"Yeah, but I wanna know," said AJ.

That got a strained look from his tormented brother. AJ answered the look by shrugging his shoulders.

"Okay, I was creatin'! There, I said it. You happy?" Jeffy blurted out, looking at Elliot.

"Creating the reality of a nutso?" asked Elliot.

"Elliot, it's not like you to press someone like that. You're right on the border of being a bully."

"Ew-w. That's not good. Elliot, you gotta quit it," AJ said.

"Well, I'm sorry. Jeffy, it's just that I think you're almost asleep and all of a sudden your arms are waving around over your head. Can't you sleep or what?"

"Kinda. It's just something I began ta do to help me relax. It works and it makes me feel better. Now can we change the subject?"

I know I was curious about what he was doing, but, as usual, AJ beat me to the punch.

"Yeah, but what are ya doin' with your hands up there?"

"Okay, here it is, I build stuff. There, happy?"

"You're building stuff? What kinda stuff?"

"Stuff stuff. I don't know. Okay, last night it was a desk. I've done a chair like at school and I did Lewis' crib one night."

"Huh?"

I think that pretty much summed it up for all three of us.

"It's like I imagine getting the wood or pipe or whatever, then cutting it and nailing it or screwing it, then putting it all together and staining it, all in my mind." Jeffy wasn't ever too good about showing much enthusiasm. This time was no exception, but I could see the satisfaction in his eyes, of having built that crib in his mind, the one that Lewis sleeps in.

But it was Elliot that was impressed.

"You, you really do all that? How do you know what to do, how to put it together?"

"I don't. That's why it's only in my mind. My mind can do anything. I can lift anything, saw anything, make it all work out perfectly because I'm the one that sees it. And, somehow it relaxes me to go to sleep."

"Wo-o-ow."

We were all quiet for just a minute.

"You really like to work with your hands, don't you, son?"

"Yeah, but I don't think I'd really like to try makin' any of that stuff. Maybe bookends or somethin'. I just do it to sleep better, I guess."

"Sorry, Jeffy," said Elliot. "I guess you aren't so crazy after all."

"Thanks a lot, El."

"About that, anyway! Ha!"

A plate heaped with bacon and another of pancakes ended whatever else needed saying, though I couldn't think of what it would be.


"Okay, boys, put your dishes in the dishwasher, then get cleaned up and get in the truck. We're going into town," I announced.

That got a whoop out of AJ, caused Lewis to recoil after hearing his brother right next to him, but only got minimal enthusiasm from Elliot and Jeffy.

It was the day after our barbeque with our soon-to-be neighbors, the Fuentes. It was right after the breakfast and Elliot confronting Jeffy about his sleeping habits. The boys couldn't be tired from what little they did, but I suppose they were just comfortable and didn't want to move.

"What's the big deal, Pop?" asked Jeffy. "Do we all have ta go?"

"No, I suppose you could stay home. This will include lunch. I was thinking of Wang's place. We haven't been there in a bit."

Even that only got enthusiasm from AJ, who didn't mind what he ate, just as long as there was plenty of it.

"I'll tell you what guys, a long time ago, well, weeks ago, I promised AJ a dinner at the steak house on the other side of town. I believe they're open today for lunch. What say we head over there after we get the other stuff out of the way?"

"Yes, Pop, but what's the other stuff?"

"Elliot, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise."

Jeffy looked at Elliot, who looked back, and they had their minds going great guns, evidently trying to figure out what the surprise could possibly be.

"It's Sunday so there's no doctors open," mentioned Elliot, after stating several other possibilities.

"Okay! I'm game!" Jeffy was convinced that there was nothing left that would hurt him, evidently.

"Okay, Jeffy, please change the baby. Um, you guys might want to put on some nice button shirts since we'll be going to a fairly nice restaurant," I suggested.

While I changed into a nice shirt and slacks, all three boys came in at least once to ask if what they'd chosen was appropriate. I pulled on a sport coat, which immediately made the boys all want one. Between Jeffy and Elliot they had Lewis dressed in a cute shirt and pants outfit that even had a little bow tie with it. That would last until Lewis was aware of something hanging from his neck.

"You guys look great. Maybe soon we can pick out some coats like mine, though we don't often go to places where dress is particularly important."

That would prove to be wrong once school started again.

Three, no, four proud boys scampered for the truck and we pulled out, going to finally buy the family a couple of computers.

While all the boys were curious, Elliot was beside himself when we pulled in front of the computer store. Next to it was their barber shop, so I couldn't miss the chance to have a little fun.

"Okay, who'll be first in the chair?"

"Nice try, Pop, they aren't even open."

"Hey, that means it's just this computer store, right?" asked one excited Elliot.

"Yes, it's about time. Don't you think?"

The end of Chapter Fifty-four


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