The next couple of days went smoothly and the day before Good Friday, Andrew came to talk to me. “Dad, I just talked to Barry online and he really is excited about going on vacation with us. Did you get his dad’s permission yet?
“Farrell said he’d be agreeable to the children joining us, even if his wife and he couldn’t,” I replied
“Will you call and find out for sure? And can I tell Barry where we’re going or what we’re going to do?”
“You know I like to keep that information secret, but I’ll guarantee Barry, and rest of you boys, will really like what I’ve got planned,” I explained. “I will call Farrell and see if I can get a firm commitment though.”
“Aw come on, can’t you tell me a little about what we’ll be doing?” Andrew pleaded. “I want to be able to go back and tell Barry something. Okay?”
“All I will agree to do is call Barry’s father and see if he’s going to let Barry and Alannah go,” I confirmed. “If it’s necessary, I’ll share a little information about our vacation with him, if he isn’t sure about letting his children go with us. However, I’ll also explain to him that I’d prefer if he didn’t share this information with his son or daughter. If that will do, then I’ll call shortly.”
As I suspected, it wasn’t what Andrew was hoping to hear, but he was willing to compromise. I think he concluded that as long as Barry could go, it really didn’t matter where we went, so he gave up trying to get more out of me.
“Okay, go call him then,” Andrew urged. “I’ll tell Barry you’re going to call soon.”
I agreed to do it shortly, and about ten minutes later, I went and dialed the Flannery home. I recognized Farrell’s voice as he soon as he answered.
“Hello, Farrell. This is Josh Currie.” I greeted him. “I just thought I’d call to see if you’d made up your mind about going on vacation with us this summer. We’re going to be away for most of June and you can join us for part or all of it. I’ve planned to take a nine-day cruise in the Caribbean and then spend some time in Florida, before we take another eight-day cruise in another part of the Caribbean. What do you say?”
“Josh, that sounds nice, but our tentative plans are now set in stone. We’re vacationing with my wife’s family in early August. That’s all the time I can take off from work,” he explained, “otherwise we’d love to join you. My in-laws would never forgive me if I backed out now and my wife would have me sleeping on the couch until next year, if I changed my mind about going with them.” He gave a strained chuckle after saying this.
“I understand, but Andrew would really like Barry to go with us. Would you mind if I took him along? I’d be willing to have Alannah join us too, if she wanted. I’ll pay for everything.”
“Josh, you wouldn’t need to do that,” he countered. “It must be costing you a small fortune already.”
“Well, one of my sons is in the service and will be unable to join us and Mark can’t get off from work during June. I already made the reservations, so I have two openings,” I explained.
“Let me talk it over with the kids and I’ll get back to you. I’m pretty sure that’s what Barry had in mind when he told me you were calling, but I think Alannah has gymnastics, band or cheerleading camp in June. Most of her summer is already booked up with all those activities. She’s a very busy girl.”
“That’s actually good. It gives her less time to get into trouble,” I teased.
“I hope so, because having a daughter really scares me,” he admitted. “You know, worrying about her having sex and possibly getting pregnant and all.”
“I know, Farrell,” I commiserated. “Along the way, I raised two daughters too, so I understand what you’re talking about.”
“I’m sure you do,” he agreed. “Josh, it is really nice of you to offer to do this, so I’ll get back to you within the hour. I’ll talk it over with my wife and the kids and then let you know what we decide.” I thanked him and then we hung up.
As soon as I got off the phone, Andrew began to pester me about what had been decided. He wasn’t pleased when he discovered we still wouldn’t know if Barry could join us for a little while longer. I urged him to be patient, since Mr. Flannery had to discuss this with everyone first, but that didn’t seem to assuage him. It was obvious he was going to stay close by my side until he got a definite answer, so I just let him follow me around as I went about doing the things I had planned. When the phone finally rang, Andrew went streaking for it, before anyone else could reach it.
“Hello,” he said, in his very soft, high-pitched voice.
“Hello,” the voice on the other end responded. “May I speak with Mr. Currie please?”
“Yes, sir,” Andrew answered meekly. “Just a second, please, and I’ll get him for you.” Immediately, Andrew came charging toward me, with the phone held in his outstretched hand. “Dad, it’s for you,” he advised me.
“Thank you, Andrew,” I told him, as I took the phone from him. “Hello, this is Josh Currie,” I answered.
“Josh, it’s Farrell Flannery. I’ve talked it over with everyone and we’re going to let Barry go with you, if you still want him,” he chuckled. “If you could see him running around and acting crazy right now, you might change your mind though.”
I had a good idea what he was talking about, because I was sure the same thing would happen with Andrew, as soon as I gave him the good news. Andrew was standing a short distance away and staring at me intently, as he tried to see how I reacted to what I was being told.
“However, Alannah has gymnastics camp the first full week of June and band camp the third week of that same month, so she won’t be able to go too. She told me to thank you for the invitation, but she’s already sent in her applications and payments for those two camps.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I told him, and I saw Andrew react immediately. He now looked in my direction, appearing crestfallen and depressed. “But please tell her I hope she enjoys her time at those two camps,” I added, which caused Andrew to perk up again, when he figured out I was talking about Alannah, not Barry.
“Would you like us to come by to pick Barry up, or would you allow him to fly here to meet us?” I followed, which sent Andrew soaring into a frenzy of glee. He began to jump around, like a barefooted man walking on a bed of hot coals, and I had to stifle laughing at him, so I could listen to what Farrell was trying to tell me.
“I think he’s old enough to make that short trip alone,” Farrell confirmed. “I’ll take him to the airport myself, to make sure he gets on the plane all right, so if you’re willing to meet him at the other end, I see no problems with him doing this alone.”
“That would work out perfectly,” I agreed. “We’ll, be flying out of Philadelphia, so I’ll give you the exact date and time we’ll be leaving from there, so you can put Barry on a flight that will get him there a few hours before we’re scheduled to depart. That will allow us a little leeway for bad weather and such.”
Throughout this whole time I’d been watching Andrew carrying on, dancing and jumping about, so I had to tell Farrell about this. “Do you remember telling me how Barry was carrying on, after he discovered he’d be going?” I asked.
“Yes, I certainly do,” Farrell replied, “because he’s still doing those same things.”
“Well, Andrew’s doing his own imitation of a chimp in the wild right now too, so I think we’ve got a matching pair.” I heard Farrell laugh after I told him this.
“I guessed he might,” Farrell added, “After watching some of the things the two of them did when he stayed with us, after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, it surely doesn’t surprise me.”
“He wasn’t any trouble, was he?” I asked, concerned. I thought something might have taken place that I hadn’t been told about previously.
“Oh, no,” Farrell replied. “He was very good, in fact. It was just that he and Barry could begin acting very silly at times. Actually, it was quite enjoyable watching them getting along so well. That’s one of the reasons my wife and I agreed to let Barry go with you on this trip.”
“That’s wonderful, and I promise I’ll take good care of him,” I assured him.
“And don’t be afraid to discipline him if he acts up,” Farrell added, but I was sure he was saying this more for Barry’s benefit than for mine. “If you have to, you can even pull his pants down and spank his bare ass,” Farrell insisted, and I could only imagine Barry’s reaction to hearing his father tell me this.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I countered, “but I doubt I’ll have to resort to such drastic measures. And thank you for trusting me with your son.”
“Oh, you may not be thanking me, once you’ve actually spent some time with him,” Farrell joked back.
“We’ll see,” I told him, knowing I had made similar comments to others about my boys, as well. “Good-bye, and I look forward to him joining us.”
“My wife and I both thank you, Josh,” Farrell assured me. “I’m sure he’ll have a great time. So long.”
As soon as I pushed the button to end the call, Andrew ran toward me and jumped up, knowing I’d catch him in my arms. Once I plucked him out of the air, he began hugging and kissing me.
“Oh, thank you, daddy,” he told me, slipping back to using his childhood name for me. This was something he did whenever he was trying to gain an advantage or when thanking me for doing something he wanted. “I love you and thank you for letting Barry come with us on our trip,” he added.
He was truly one excited teen, even though he currently was acting more like a ten-year old. It was worth it though, even if it was only to see Andrew enjoying this youthful exuberance again.
Even though Barry was going, I had one more spot to fill on the trip, so I debated whom I would ask to go with us. I had two candidates in mind, Carlos and Ted. I decided I’d call them both, to see who might be able to join us, but I was worried Ted’s family wouldn’t let him leave home with people they didn’t know for that long of a time.
I called and spoke with both boys and they seemed to be excited about the prospect. Carlos informed me he’d been working at a Mexican-American restaurant, but thought he might be able to take some time off. He also told me he would ask his mother about it, when she got home from work, and then let me know.
Ted was also very excited and told me he’d call his Aunt Jane, so she could help him present the idea to his parents. He told me he wasn’t sure what they were going to say, but Ted did let me know he and his father had been getting along better, so it might be possible. He told me he’d get back to me as soon as he could and I told him that would be fine.
I hadn’t been off the phone for very long, before Nick came to me with an idea he was considering. Some of the other boys were with him for support, as he explained his proposal.
“Pop, we want to form a gay-straight alliance at the high school. If we did, would you approve it for us?” he wondered.
“Nick, I’m surprised you want to do this now, since you’re a senior, but I think that’s a wonderful idea. However, you’ll have to go through the proper channels to do this,” I explained. “I can only approve things that are recommended to me by the various school principals. This would be considered a club activity, so it must be submitted to the high school principal first. If he thinks it’s a worthwhile organization, he will pass the idea and his recommendation on to me. Of course, I’ll approve it if he does, and then it will go to the board of education, but you have to go through him first.”
“I’m doing it more to help the younger guys who are still in high school,” he conceded. “Even though it hasn’t been so bad since the David Hubbard thing, it’s still not that great, so I want to see if I can help make it better for them. How long is this going to take and what do we have to do?”
“Nick, I think your reasons are admirable, so here’s what I suggest you do. Write up a proposal as to why you think a gay-straight alliance is necessary and explain to the principal how you think it would benefit the high school. Also, start a petition in favor of it and get all the signatures you can to support your idea. Being organized and having the names of those from the student body who also think it is a good idea will have a big impact on your principal and help persuade him to approve this.”
“Man, that sounds like a lot of work,” he whined. “Can’t you just help us out and make it easier?” Nick was pleading with me now.
“Nick, if this is really important to you, then you’ll do the work. It’s like when you wanted to be an exchange student, you had to complete the required steps to make it happen. Otherwise, I’m not sure it’s important enough to you to get it going,” I explained.
Nick looked dejected, but the others were encouraging him, by telling him they’d help do some of the work to make this happen. Resigning himself to the reality that this was the only way to get what he wanted, he accepted their help and they went off to start making their plans.
On Thursday, Jake and I set off to pick up the boys from college. They’d be coming home for the weekend and we’d take them back either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, but I wanted them home for Easter. However, doing all this driving again helped me make my mind up about something else I’d been considering. Since Jake and I were constantly spending so much time on the road, whenever we needed to get the boys to or from school, I’d been thinking of ways to eliminate this task for us. All of these trips were becoming a major pain in the backside, so I’ve decided this coming summer I’ll buy two more vehicles, which will be for the college boys’ exclusive use.
I’ll assign one to Dustin and the other to Danny, seeing they are the two oldest and probably the most responsible of my college students. They will be able to use these vehicles to transport their brothers to and from school, which will take the onus off of Jake and me. I think they can handle the responsibility of having a vehicle on campus and not abuse the privilege, since one will be a college senior and the other a junior next year.
Turning this responsibility over to them would also be a huge help to Jake and me and save us from having to lug everyone around all the time. I’ve also agreed to let Kevin use the 4Runner, to help get him Vinnie and Trey around. This meant there would only be three or four boys in each vehicle next year, out of the eleven that would be in college by then. I think I’ll pick up a couple of SUV’s for them to use, which will have room to lug all their belongings back and forth too. Besides, the size of those vehicles will also give me some peace of mind about their safety as well.
We arrived home late Thursday evening and it felt nice to have everyone but Frankie home for the holiday. Over the past couple of years, with all the various other things going on, such as our exchange students being away, we haven’t been together as a family for very many of the holidays. Of course, with my older children still missing from the picture and Frankie in the service, it still wasn’t the same, but at least nearly all of my boys were here this time and it was nice to see the house full of activity.
As the college guys went to their rooms, to drop of their luggage and get settled, I began to hear some commotion. At first it wasn’t much, so I ignored it, but then that changed. Being curious, I went up to see what was going on, only to discover it was due to our prankster striking again. Of course, I knew who the culprit was this time, but since I’d promised not to ‘out’ him, all I could do was watch from the background and keep my mouth shut.
It seemed that Dustin was the first to be had by my little trickster, because when he went to turn the light on in his room, nothing happened. Since he was still able to see well enough using the light from the hallway, he discovered all the light bulbs had been removed from his ceiling fan. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when he went to turn on the bedside lamp, he discovered that bulb had been removed as well. He was uttering more than a few expletives and adding a few additional comments, such as ‘payback is a bitch,’ as he went off to round up a new supply.
Dustin wasn’t alone, however, in discovering something amiss, as Danny and Brandon soon learned. Having been apart and living on different campuses for a couple of months, they hurried to their room, to spend a little time together. After stripping off their clothing, they hopped into bed, only to hear a crunching sound beneath them. Instinctively, they jumped out and threw back the covers, but they couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
Curious, but extremely horny, they crawled back onto the mattress, only to experience the same problem. They jumped out of bed again, but this time they also pulled the sheet off. That’s when they discovered someone had spread cornflakes all over their mattress and then covered it over with the sheet. It was obviously done this way so they wouldn’t notice it when they first got into bed, but it would be annoying, nonetheless. Now, they were busy sweeping the cornflakes into their small wastebasket and replacing the sheet, so they could get back to doing what they had planned.
Of course, those three at first suspected Ricky as the culprit, but seeing he came home with them, they knew he couldn’t possibly have had time to set this up. It confused them a bit, but it also made them more resolute in their attempt to discover who had perpetrated these practical jokes upon them. However, those disturbances weren’t what drew me upstairs to investigate in the first place, although I gathered something was amiss beforehand, but it was Ricky’s outburst that actually grabbed my attention.
He had jumped into the shower, to clean up before going to bed, but things didn’t go exactly as he had planned. Ricky was in the middle of his shower when I heard him scream, because the hot water suddenly went off and he was hit with a blast of icy cold water.
“Who’s screwing with the water?” he screamed from inside. He then turned off the water and got out of the tub. “You know, I’m going to get the son of a bitch who did this,” he shouted, as he stood dripping and shivering in the doorway. I reached him shortly after he’d completed his outburst.
“Ricky, something must have happened to the hot water heater for this shower,” I explained, in an effort to defuse the situation. “I’ll go down to the basement and check it out. Maybe the pilot light went out or something.”
He seemed to calm down a bit after hearing me say this and I headed for the basement. We had three hot water heaters to supply our multiple bathrooms and other needs, so I wanted to see what was wrong. I had the water heaters labeled, so it was easy to tell which one served which location, so I went directly to the one that supplied the hot water for the bathroom Ricky was using. Everything appeared to be fine and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it, so I began to check it out again, but this time more closely. As I bent down to examine the burner, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It was Andrew. He was hiding in the shadows.
“You might as well come out,” I told him. “I see you there.” At first nothing happened, but then he hesitantly moved toward me.
“I should have suspected you had something to do with this,” I told him, “but I told Ricky the hot water heater must be malfunctioning.” He just looked at me, before walking up to the hot water heater and turning the knob to one of the valves. This allowed the hot water to flow out of the tank again. I just smiled at him, impressed by his ingenuity.
“You’d better stay out of sight for a while,” I explained, “or someone else will figure you had your hand in this.” He looked a little surprised.
“So, you’re not going to tell on me?” he wondered.
“No, I told you I wouldn’t, so I won’t. The others will only find out it’s you if they catch you in the act.” He smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thanks, dad,” he told me, and then hugged my waist. After the exchange, I went back upstairs, to talk to Ricky again.
“It seems to be okay now,” I advised him, “in case you want to finish your shower.”
“Thanks, Dad,” he responded, as he turned around and went back into the bathroom, to resume cleaning up. I went downstairs content that Ricky could finish his shower now, without further incident. Since I didn’t hear any more screaming coming from the bathroom, I assumed I was correct.
However, that wasn’t the last of the pranks for the evening. Before long, I heard a crash in Kevin and Vinnie’s room, which is on the first floor, so I went to see what happened. When I entered, they were scrambling about, naked of course, and a bunch of paperback books, a couple of boards and other items where scattered about on their bed.
“Okay, what happened in here?” I asked.
“Someone rigged the shelves above our bed, so they’d crash down on us,” Kevin informed me. Automatically, I looked at the space they were talking about, where the shelves used to hang. The brackets were still there, but the shelves were no longer where they were supposed to be.
“How did it happen?” I asked, innocently.
“I’m not quite sure,” Kevin responded, still confused, but upset. “The shelves must have been rigged to fall when there were any vibrations or something.” He flashed me a semi-embarrassed look, after saying this.
“Why? What kind of vibrations caused the shelves to fall?” I wanted to know. He swallowed hard and then told me.
“Well, Vinnie and I were making love and really going at it when everything came crashing down on us.” Suddenly, I understood his little bout with being embarrassed.
“I guess the bed was bumping into the wall and that made the shelves give way,” Kevin continued. “But someone had to set it up, cuz that’s never happened before,” he admitted, without realizing the implications of what he just said.
I helped them pick up everything and put it back where it belonged, and that’s when I understood what he meant. The shelves were long enough to over hang the brackets by a couple of inches on each side, so someone had to push them out of place, so one side was on the brink of falling. That way, the slightest vibration would send it crashing down, and apparently, that’s exactly what had happened. Actually, it was set up quite well.
Andrew must have sneaked out of the basement while I was in with Kevin and Vinnie, because he was standing in the hallway when I started back to my room. He just gave me a mischievous grin, before he turned and went up to his own room, but I could tell he was pleased about all the havoc he had created. The rest of the night was quiet and no other pranks were pulled, but the other boys were still miles away from solving the mystery of the unknown prankster.