The Little Pipsqueak

© 2012-2017 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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From Chapter 72:

Our last evening, little Cristian came up to me as we all gathered for some quiet time in the Thompson's living room. Lewis was down for the night and it was time for the boys to call it a night as well. I was sitting in an upholstered chair and the little guy squeezed in between my knees, his hands clasped in front of him. The shyness that had been a part of him was quickly fading with each passing day. I attributed that to his being so comfortable and confident in his security around all of us, especially his new family.

"Senor Teem, you don't hava go if you done wanna. You can stay here and so can su hijos."

Cesar was right there to whisper into Cristian's ear. Cristian began to blush but it was through a very sweet smile, something that we had grown used to over the time of our visit.

"Oh, you sons," he continued. "But you can all stay longer, even you baby. We all like you."

That was more than I'd ever heard Cristian say to anyone, especially in English, though heavily accented, of course.

I reached out and took the smiling boy's hands in mine, making his smile all the more radiant.

"Thank you, Cristian. We've had a wonderful time here, but we have other boys to see too. One who is very sick. So we will come back some day but you must visit us too."

Cristian looked totally lost as I spoke, looking over his shoulder with a confused look, seeking any help to his situation.

Cesar tried to translate for him but he looked a little lost, too, until Jacob crawled over and finished up.

"Oh. Sí Sí. ¡Visitarte!" Cristian exclaimed excitedly.

Then he jumped into my arms and we had a nice hug.

The next morning we were on our way, after hugs and some tears, and with promises of doing this again. I was so glad to see the boys with a family as loving and wholesome as the Thompsons were. I had no doubt that they were in good hands and could begin to enjoy life once more.


The Little Pipsqueak

Chapter Seventy-three

I'd encouraged the older boys to take their driving manuals to study as we drove or to read in our room at night, so they could take their test when we returned.

I kept a couple of our destinations a secret from the boys, just to make our time more special. Anticipation is a wonderful gift for boys but they had really never had an opportunity to use it, at least in a positive way.

As we buzzed along the main highway to our next destination, the hospital, the air was warm, the sun was bright, the traffic was pretty light and two of the boys were in the back seat sawing logs - from boredom no doubt. We still had a long day or more ahead of us on our journey to see Ray, which would take us until the next day, at least, if there were few distractions along the way.

But, by chance it was Jeffy that was wide awake, sitting shotgun and staring at everything possible, especially,

"Hey, a hitch-hiker, Pop! We should pick him up, huh?"

It wasn't like we hadn't seen our fair share of people walking on the side of the road or just standing with their thumb out like the guy a ways up the road from us, coming up fast. For some reason known only to Jeffy he seemed to have picked him out.

Then, with ear-splitting clarity, enough to raise the ranks of the sleeping,

"Pop! Look! Oh my God, look who it is! Ya gotta stop, Pop! Ya gotta! That was Kennedy! Pop, ya gotta stop! Remember Kennedy?" shouted Jeffy as we passed the young man standing with his thumb out, a huge duffle bag at his feet, dressed in shorts and a tight tank top that was so stained it looked like a camouflage design.

Oh, did I remember Kennedy! He was half of the reason my heart nearly gave out on our last adventure, our camping trip not long before. Yes, I certainly had feelings for Kennedy. Maybe not the ones that Jeffy would have preferred. Kennedy was the graffiti artist that drew Jeffy away from our camp and had me so worried when we couldn't find my son.

"Please, Pop. Ya can't let him get sunburned and stuff out here, can ya? He...he might die!" said my desperate-sounding son.

I was thinking.

"Please, Pop! Ya gotta turn around and get him. Ple-e-e-ase!"

I even used a highway patrol turn-around to do it. I might have said that the smile on Jeffy's face when I did it was worth it, but at the time I wasn't at all sure that this was such a good idea.

I had to drive quite a ways to get back to that side of the divided highway and, when we came upon him again, he was actually walking toward another car that had stopped past him.

"Well, look at that. Seems like someone else . . ."

"Huh? Nu-uh, Pop. Ya gotta get him. That might be a rapist or something. Ya gotta save him, Pop!"

"Yeah, Dad. At least we know we won't hurt him," stated my littlest.

I was thinking.

But I did pull over, almost even with the boy walking toward the other vehicle.

Jeffy was immediately out of the truck.

"Kennedy! It's us! Remember?" shouted Jeffy, running toward a startled boy.

"Jeffy? That you? Wow, what karma. I was just thinking about all the fun we had back then."

The two hugged as I stopped even with them. I noticed that the other car pulled away.

"Okay, guys, get in. Elliot, it's your turn for shotgun so these two can reminisce in the back."

Everyone hopped in to their respective places after Jeffy threw Kennedy's duffle bag into the back of the truck.

What got to at least three of us in the truck as soon as the doors were shut, was the odor coming from one well-encrusted, half-baked, sweating young man.

"Phew! Man, open a window, Dad!" shouted AJ when his senses got wind of the change of atmosphere.

"Sorry, guys. I'm pretty ripe. You can let me out if you need to. I'm used to it."

Just then, thank our lucky stars, was a sign stating a rest area only two miles up the road. While it probably didn't have any showers, it would likely have running water that he could use to wash away some of the stench he'd built up over the miles.

It was a fairly large rest stop with a huge area for large semis and such. It was a third filled which meant maybe twenty trucks. The area for passenger cars was even more filled with maybe fifty cars. There were two buildings, one each for men and women. Their entrances were in between the buildings and each had two doors. Of course there was a line to go into the women's restroom.

My boys quickly made a beeline to relieve themselves, that is, all except Kennedy, who seemed to be looking for something, and me, who was curious about what Kennedy was looking for. He wandered through the middle hall-like area between the two buildings, then turned to go around to the back of the men's building.

Was it luck that we found a hose attached to a tap at the far side of the men's restroom building? I would have said yes until . . .

"Oh, wow! Look! Almost as good as a shower," said the boy, rushing to the spigot, setting his duffle bag down and grabbing the end of the hose. "Sir, could you please hold this so I can get cleaned up? Don't worry. I have a towel in my bag."

I was thinking he just wanted his hands free to wash more thoroughly until I started to realize what his idea of 'thoroughly' was. Kennedy unzipped his bag and, ignoring the several cans of spray paint that fell from the opening, he removed a wadded up towel and several pieces of wadded up clothes, far too wrinkled to identify just yet. He set them on a bin next to the wall and began to pull his shirt over his head.

Of course, I just assumed he didn't want to get it wet and so, I leaned over to turn on the spigot and adjust the spray so it wouldn't hurt him. When I turned back to him I found out that he didn't want his pants and flip-flops wet either!

He was totally naked!

"Um, Kennedy, I don't think it's a good idea to . . ."

"Oh, it's okay. I do it all the time when I can find some water source like here. Could you just hold the hose over my head?"

"Um," I said as I looked around. "Kennedy really."

"I'll hurry. Honest, it's better than putting up with my stench, huh?"

Well, I couldn't argue with that. So, I began to spray him down like some circus animal getting ready for the big top.

It was funny. Several people walked by only a few yards down the path to the restroom doors and almost no one looked or even notice. Several little kids looked but were quickly pulled from the scene by their parents, who also didn't seem to notice anything untoward.

"Whoa! Dad!" said AJ as he came around the side of the building. "We been lookin' for you."

When I heard his voice I immediately turned and, as I did, I moved the hose from my target and it began to splash near my boys.

"Hey!" laughed Elliot, jumping back to miss the spray, "We're already clean."

I quickly recovered and turned the hose back onto Kennedy who was busy washing his arm pits. He'd even come up with some soap from somewhere and was pretty well covered, head to toes, with suds.

"A quick rinse please."

My pleasure! I wanted to turn the spray to the next harder setting but decided it wasn't up to me to be passing judgement on this wayward boy. I doused him good as he raised his arms and let me spray away the foam that covered him until he was a sparkling clean, tan young man and naked as a jay bird.

To which Jeffy had to comment, "Um, wow, Kennedy, you're naked again."

Again!

"Well, it's kind of difficult to get to all the nooks and crannies with clothes on, don't you think?"

"Yeah, I guess, but you weren't washin' at the campgrounds."

"Oh, well, that was just the freedom to feel the air on my skin and let the creativity come from all of my pores."

I think the kids were almost as confused as I was. Needless to say we had on our hands a naturalist that was even more devoted than my AJ.

"Okay, guys. Kennedy, get dried and dressed. We'll meet you at the car after I relieve myself."

I turned off the hose and replaced it against the building, then walked around to use the facilities.

The place was large enough to have several urinals along one wall with small partitions between each. As I was finishing up, Kennedy sidled up to the one next to me.

"Thanks for that, sir. It was really refreshing and should make for a more pleasant drive for you all. May I ask where you're headed?"

"We have a friend of the boys that is receiving chemo at the children's hospital up north from us. I expect to spend at least one day there, then, though the boys don't know it, we're headed from there to the water park not far from there."

"Oh, that's great! May I offer my family's house for you to spend the night? It will accommodate all of you with ease and will be more comfortable than an old motel or something."

I'll have to admit that my mind was working a mile a minute to form a picture of some cardboard hovel somewhere. I was a bit embarrassed when Kennedy's next remark told me that he was reading my mind.

"I assure you, sir, it's probably not what you expect, having met me in my most natural form. But it is a worthy offering for the kindness you've shown me thus far."

I had noticed that, for a wayward young man with no apparent goals in life, other than to raise eyebrows wherever he traveled, his language was not at all...shall we say - vagabond.

"Kennedy, I don't mean to judge but . . ."

"Sir, my home is on your way. I know the hospital. My father had one wing named for him before he retired from his pediatric neurosurgery practice a few years ago. Now, he and Mother are only on the boards of the hospital. I think you'll find everything to your liking and it's on the way."

"But why then...." I never seemed to be able to finish a question when I was talking to this young man.

I also realized that we were both tying up a urinal each and there were others in need. We quickly washed our hands and began to walk out where my boys were waiting.

"So, it's settled. You're all coming to my house to spend at least the night, then on to your next destination. Let's get going!"

And off traipsed Kennedy with two of my three boys on his heels. The sensible boy, while holding our Lewis, stayed back with me, walking a bit slower.

"Um, Pop, are we really going to...?"

"I think it'll be okay from what he's described, Elliot. I guess he's about to surprise us once again."

The chatter was nonstop for miles. We had a ways to go and it seemed like all four boys were telling their stories to each other.

"Kidnapped? That amazing. You were lucky to survive that one, guys. Yeah, that's one adventure I haven't had yet."

"Well, let's hope you don't," answered Jeffy.

"So, where do you go all the time, Kennedy? You just go find some wall to paint?" asked AJ.

"Okay, I guess you could say that. But I've done other stuff too, some neat and some not so neat. Like I helped out a crew that was cleaning a bridge a few months ago. I didn't stay for the whole thing and it sure was messy. You think I was dirty when you found me just now? Man, that chipped paint was layered on all of us. But they were sure nice guys and I earned some money to make the next phase of my trip a little less uncomfortable."

"But, Kennedy, if your parents are wealthy enough to donate a wing of a hospital, why are you bumming rides and doing odd jobs?"

As I looked at him in the rear view mirror, he just shrugged his shoulders. It was a little eerie because of the silence. For about two minutes all we heard were the sounds outside the truck. Kennedy fixed his eyes on me, through the mirror. I couldn't tell if he was thinking of an appropriate answer or what he was doing.

"Um, yeah, I guess you could say I like to bum around. Okay," he sighed heavily, "My parents are both professionals. They are very respected in their fields and very sought after for more than just their expertise. They are constantly called on from all over the country, even the world, to lecture or open a hospital or whatever they do."

"Wow! All over the world? You could go with them, huh, Kennedy?" asked my youngest.

"Yes, I could. I mean, I did for a few years, but I had nothing to do when I got there. I was too young to go anywhere by myself. My nanny was too old to want to take me anywhere, so I guess I convinced them to let me stay home. And even when they're home they aren't home. I mean, they're too busy to be at home most of the time."

"Gee, Kennedy, it's like the best of everything but you don't get anything out of it," said Jeffy, trying to figure it all out.

"I guess."

"Kennedy, that's why you do all the things you do and go so many places?"

"Bingo, Elliot. You nailed it. It's far more stimulating for me than sitting around home with nothing to do."

"What about school?" I asked. I think it was my responsibility to ask that as the only parental-type person in the vehicle.

"He, he. Yeah, that usually comes up about now. See, I graduated from high school two years ago when I was fifteen. I'll register for college somewhere next fall. I have most of the Ivy League colleges and several universities offering me scholarships to go to their institutions. But, if you knew me . . . Well, let's just say I'm reluctant to stay in one place for very long, let alone four years minimum."

Having only met the young man hours before, I wasn't too surprised at hearing of his obvious academic accomplishments. I was still a little confused by his need to be a nomad. Still, his creative juices seemed to ooze from his pores. His feet must have their mind to lead him to each new adventure.

I happened to look over at Elliot, who looked stunned by Kennedy's revelation about his choice of schools.

"But I may just stay at the city university near our home. My parents had me when they were considerably older than is safe for an older couple. They are advancing in years and I want to be with them when they need more help."

"If you'll excuse my rudeness, Kennedy, that doesn't much sound like the bohemian young man I just hosed off in the back of the rest stop just now."

"Yes, you're right. But, don't you see, I have to get it all out of my system if I'm to settle down and be a family man for them. They'll need me more than they know very shortly, I'm afraid. Even now, my father is about to resign himself to his wheelchair more than not. I worry that the lack of freedom will weigh its toll heavily upon him in a short time."

Okay, I was beginning to be impressed. Looking at Elliot, whose mouth was agape, I saw that he was at least somewhat impressed as well.

"Still, I've been offered a place at a famous art school in Chicago. It's not one most people would know but I've visited there several times and they have everything I'd love to pursue. But it would take me from my family. So, I can't really justify . . ."

"But, Kennedy," asked my little man, "Won't your mom and dad be disappointed if you don't do what you need to be what you want to be?"

"Oh, I suppose, AJ. They really do encourage me, but there'll be plenty of time for that. I just don't want to miss being with them when they finally settle down and stay around the house more."

I couldn't help but laugh out loud. I could see that it surprised almost every one, except Kennedy, who blushed when he realized I caught the irony of his statement.

"Um, Pop?" asked Jeffy.

"Jeffy, he's sounding a lot like any parent would sound when they are worried about their wayward children. While we may know Kennedy as a 'wayward child', it is rather funny that he sees himself as the practical one in this case."

Again, a cute blush on the cheeks of Kennedy, a young man that I was truly beginning to appreciate more and more.


The boys began to get hungry and there were several suggestions of fast food. But Kennedy told us of an old diner a few miles up the road that offered some good fare. If I hadn't had the insights that revealed who this young man really was, just minutes before, I'd never have agreed to his suggestion. But . . .

"Okay, Kennedy. This is your territory. I'll trust your judgement. Lead the way."

Soon, in front of us was a classic diner that looked like a traditional all metal building much like the shape of a hotdog in a bun. You know the ones I mean. Lots of straight metal filigree wrapped around the curved shape at either end of the building, looking like it came out of the 50s. It gleamed from the sun hitting it and I could see my boys were anxious to see what it contained within.

Inside was as classic as out. The counter ran most of the way down the middle of the space with plenty of booths lining the outside walls and wrapping around the ends of the building. Each had a 1950s era Select-O-Matic juke box on the table with a menu for the giant jukebox that was just inside the door of the restaurant. They also had a button to call the wait person.

We were promptly encouraged to choose a booth at one end that would seat our big tribe and almost immediately presented with waters, menus, and a high chair for one very curious young boy.

"Wow, Dad, this must give you memories of way back when you were a kid, huh?"

The other three boys laughed as they looked for my reaction.

"AJ, how old do you thing I am, for heaven's sakes?"

"Oops!"

"This would be closer to your great grampa's time. I've seen pictures of these diners but I've never been in one before."

"Well, you can't get any more classic than this place, sir. I recommend the hot beef or turkey sandwich. It comes with mashed potatoes but I always get mine with French fries covered in gravy. It's really quite good."

And so we did! Even Elliot had a turkey sandwich covered in gravy, though he substituted steamed vegetables instead of potatoes.

"Way too much starch, thank you," he told the waitress.

I cut up some beef into little pieces and fed them to Lewis. He especially liked the fries dipped in gravy. He was getting to be a very good eater and seemed to be getting the knack and coordination to handle himself very well. Elliot insisted that I also give Lewis some of his vegetables to round out his diet.

I just had water, as did Elliot, but the other three boys had root beer floats. I guess they were a first for Jeffy and AJ. Even Elliot seemed to enjoy the sip he was offered from Jeffy's tall glass.

We soon hit the road again, moving from the diner, onto the freeway, toward our newest adventure, Kennedy's domain and his parents, if they were in residence at all.

As we approached I looked over in the passenger seat to notice that Kennedy, sitting shot gun to help with directions, was biting his nails. I almost chuckled out loud, seeing that self-confident tagger losing his cool before my eyes. He seemed to be nervous, not so much by our meeting his family, but by his seeing his parents again. After all, who knew the last time he'd been home.

"So, Kennedy, tell us about your home," I asked to help him ease into his own uncertainty.

"Huh? Oh, uh, well, it's just a home, like a lot of others, I guess. It has six bedrooms, um, if you don't count the servant's quarters over the garage. Yes, that would be an additional three. Um, it's kind of a large garage. Let's see, there's the entry, then the library, the den, Dad's office, Mom's office, and, of course, the kitchen, pantry, dining room, a small breakfast nook, the sitting room, three bathrooms, oh, and the solarium. Yes, I believe that's it. On the first floor, of course. Oh, and the mud room just off of the garage."

He'd rattled it off like no big deal. I looked in my rear view mirror to see three mouths opened wide, agape at what they'd just heard.

"Geesh, Kennedy, you sure you didn't miss the auditorium or bowling alley in there," asked a smart-mouthed Jeffy, hitting knuckles with his brother as he joked after recovering from their near shock.

"What?" said the distracted boy at my right, twisting around to see his friend. "Oh, uh, no. There's no bowling alley, silly. We took that out several years ago to enlarge the indoor pool to Olympic size. We also upgraded the theater at that time. But that's not on the main floor. That's in the basement. Um, the first basement, with two more bathrooms and a wet bar outside of the theater."

He swung back around to work on his nails again, clearly getting more nervous.

"Um, sir, we'll be coming into the city in a few hours, but we stay on this road through town. Our house is in a closed community at the other end. It adds about an hour to our time."

"It's getting kind of late," I suggested. "Do you think we should find lodging for the night and finish in the morning? That was kind of my plan since the hospital is on the other side of the city as well."

"Okay, sir, that might be a good plan. I'm not really used to what's available, but it looks like several places to stay are coming up at the next two exits. I know that my parents use one for their conferences by invitation. If I remember it, we could try it. It's very nice, I'm told."

Yes, I was thankful for those freeway signs that showed what was available ahead. There were several motels on the list and one with large conference facilities. We just turned off the freeway and into the parking lot of the one with the conference center. It was more of a hotel than a motel. Actually, it was Kennedy again that directed me to that particular inn.

"Wow, Dad, this is really neat! Look! They even have a pool in that room."

Another adventure was about to be added to the lengthening list that my three boys were enjoying: their first hotel stay.

My boys crowded around me as I approached the check-in counter. I noticed that Kennedy was staring, absent-mindedly, off into space by the entrance.

"And how may I help you gentlemen tonight?" asked the desk clerk. He seemed to be about twenty, in what was clearly the hotel's impressive uniform. His smile was honest, not pasted on. "It looks like you have a whole tribe, sir."

"Yes, well, just about. We need sleeping arrangements for the four, oops, five of us and little Lewis. We're headed to the children's cancer hospital to see a friend."

"Oh my. Well, it looks like all our adjoining rooms are taken, but I have one suite with two bedrooms available still. If that sounds fine, I can reduce the price to be in line with what we'd charge for two adjoining rooms."

While it was a statement, really, he asked it as a question, seeking my approval, which I readily agree to.

"Wonderful, sir. The Roosevelt Suite it is then, if you'll just sign here" he said, pushing a registration card toward me.

"Wait!" said Kennedy. "The Roosevelt Suite? Could you please just add that to my family's tab? I'm treating my friends tonight."

Remember that Kennedy was only hours before, a somewhat, well, filthy young man, looking like he'd just survived weeks on the streets. His somewhat cleaner, though wrinkled countenance did little to improve that ambiance.

"Excuse me, but I was offering this gentleman quite a discount. And you are, young man?"

"Kennedy," he said, somewhat defiantly. Then added as an afterthought, "Roosevelt," already digging into his pocket for his wallet, I guessed.

"Oh my," said a very nervous clerk, looking over the proffered ID. "I, um, it's a pleasure to meet you, um, Mr. Roosevelt. I didn't mean in any way to imply . . ."

"None taken. I get that a lot. But these are my friends and will be our guests at our home tomorrow and while they're visiting their friend at my parent's hospital. So, please, just add it to their tab."

"All done, sir," confirmed the clerk, handing back Kennedy's wallet. "I'll have someone help with your bags," he finished, signaling a bellboy standing by the outside doors.

It was funny to see the haughty look on the bellboy when he passed us, almost bumping my boys as he passed right through them instead of going around, politely. His look, while he was young, was one of judgement and some distain. When he approached the clerk, he was grabbed by his vest to lean into the clerk while, clearly, instructions were handed out. The change on his face as the young clerk nonchalantly pointed to Kennedy, was picture-worthy. He immediately straightened up and signaled for another bellboy to help. We got the same reaction from number two until he was instructed by his peer as to who he was dealing with. Then the two very polite young men followed us back to our truck to carry the few pieces of luggage that we had.

The suite was actually right at the top of the main stairway that cut the huge lobby in half and rose to the second floor. A swipe of his card and the bellboy swung open both of the double doors into a massive living area. There were no beds to be seen, though there was a huge television at one end and a wet bar off to the right, with two conversation areas made up of tastefully appointed couches, love seats and end tables.

"Um, Pop," said Jeffy, quietly, "Ya mighta noticed, but there's no beds here. Where do we sleep?"

Kennedy quickly covered his mouth as AJ grabbed my sleeve in agreement with his perceptive brother. Elliot remained poised as though he knew something would appear.

"Sirs, may I show you your bedrooms?" asked a very polite bellboy.

In front of us were two doors that were quickly opened to reveal in each, two king beds, another huge television, a smaller wet bar, and a door that must have led to the ensuite bathroom.

We directed the men to drop the bags and we'd deal with them. Then I expected them to stand until their tips were handed out. I'd begun to grab my wallet when I noticed them moving toward the door.

Kennedy laid his hand on my arm and whispered, "All taken care of, Mr. McGill."

I turned to see a smile on Elliot's face while he gazed on the looks of awe on the faces of his brothers. This was so totally out of their comfort zone that there was no way they could have imagined something so grand and posh.

AJ did a twirl and fell back on one of the beds, from which, because of the spring in the mattress, he bounced right back to his feet.

"Whoa! Didja see that? Wow!"

"Okay, guys, some rules."

"Wait, wait, Dad, do we getta go swimming?"

"Well, sure, but after we set some ground rules. This is a super nice place as you can clearly see."

Three nods of agreement.

"And Kennedy has been very nice to treat us to his family's suite like we're royalty."

Still nodding.

"So, we need to make sure that our manners are extra special. We wouldn't want to embarrass Kennedy's parents by getting reports of wild boys running through the halls or being too loud."

"'Kay! Now?"

"Guys," started Kennedy, "Once you get your suits on, there are robes in all the bathrooms to wear to the pool area. There will be towels at the pool as well. Sir, if you all will wait for me, I need to go make a purchase."

As Kennedy said that he motioned to his waist which I was sure meant he needed to buy a swimsuit. With that, he left and the boys ran to find their suitcases in order to grab their suits.

In no time Kennedy returned with a small bag and went into one of the bedrooms. We'd already changed by then and were pulling on plush off white robes with the Hotel's logo emblazoned over the heart.

The pool was great. There was no one in it at the time but several families with small kids joined us as we all enjoyed the water. My kids were as crazy as they were at our own pool. Lewis was the only one without a robe. Even AJ's was pretty big on him. But it didn't stay on him long enough to matter much. Luckily we'd thought to buy him a new suit, not quite as skimpy as a Speedo, nor as large as board shorts. Kennedy's purchase was definitely in the Speedo range, but he had a good enough body to make it work. I think my older boys were impressed. My Elliot could have easily gotten away with such a suit. Jeffy too, though he was more compact and not as slim as the other two, though getting pretty solid. However, they both had board shorts from their waist to their knees.

Everyone wanted to play with Lewis. That was fine with him. Even the children of the other families wanted to play with him. They were young enough that one of my boys would hold him as the other kids flopped and splashed around the baby making him wince at the water, then laugh one of his barrel laughs at being soaked.

Soon enough everyone started to drift away, showering the chlorine off of them and leaving in their robes. We all followed suit when there was room under the two shower heads near the pool. We grabbed pool towels and, once dry, made our way back to the suite.

Everyone flopped into sofas, quite dramatically, I might add. We were exhausted. I from driving and the boys from their hard play. Lewis was drifting in and out, fearful that he might miss something exciting.

"Guys, I'm still full from our last meal but maybe you'd like a snack. I'd like to feed Lewis before I lay him down so he'll sleep longer."

Another new adventure for the boys: room service.

Kennedy passed out menus and the boys, being boys, ordered a light snack each: hamburgers and fries. Sodas were already in the fridge at the wet bar and Kennedy assured us that it was already covered, cost-wise. Oh, Elliot and I each ordered a BLT. I had a beer, something I rarely indulged in, and Elliot had milk.

The boys were impressed with the service when it came knocking and after they'd changed into PJs. I was impressed when Kennedy signed for it and the waiter left without waiting for a tip.

By then Lewis had eaten a jar of baby food, had a bottle, and was knocked out for the night. He shared one side of my bed. AJ agreed to the other in our room and the three boys made use of the other bedroom.

And, after a quiet meal, we were certainly ready to make use of our beds.

"Mr. McGill, we should be at my parent's place by noon tomorrow."

"Sounds great, Kennedy. And thanks for all you've done for us today."

"No, sir. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family for these few days. It's been a real treat."

We all agreed with him, then drifted to our rooms to enjoy deep sleep.


The next day, after a wonderful breakfast at what must have been at least a four-star restaurant off of the lobby, we were on our way to Kennedy's castle.

And, as I turned up the long drive that led to his home, we all were amazed that it was indeed something as grand and beautiful as any castle or manor that we could imagine.


End of Chapter 73

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