Marco, Marty and the Twins
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
As the end of the school year drew near the boys were trying to complete all the requirements for Bear in their Cub Scout den. They were discussing this with Marco.
"We have our whittling chip," Ben told him. "We know out knife safety and have carved out some animals from soap."
Marco sighed. "I know. We have enough soap chips to prove that. How many bars of Ivory soap did you go through?"
"I don't know exactly. We had to practice on some of them," Sam explained.
"Did Father Hoover sign you off on the Duty to God stuff? Marco asked.
"That was easy," Sam assured him. "We are in church every Sunday and are torch bearers sometimes. He talked to us a little and said we were good for that."
"OK, and you have memorized the Scout Promise and Scout Law. What else do you need?"
"We can do everything else when we have our den camp out, next weekend," Ben said.
"What will you need for that?" Marco asked.
"We have a list," Sam told him, holding up a piece of paper they brought home from their den meeting. He read it off.
"We need a change of clothes, a flashlight, our Bear book, notebook and pencil, soap and a towel, and our sleeping bags and a pillow. We can put everything in our knapsacks except the bag and pillow."
"Are you going to sleep out under the stars?" Marco wondered.
"No, Brian borrowed some tents from his scout troop. He is bringing them." Sam told him, "but we need some cooking stuff. That's on the list too," Ben explained. "See, a roll of aluminum foil, a fork and spoon, a frying pan and a spatula – and our pocket knives. We get to bring our pocket knives since we have our whittling chips."
"What are you going to cook? Do you need some food?"
"We have to give Brian ten dollars each and he is going to bring the stuff to cook," Sam assured
"What are you going to cook?" Marco asked.
Sam and Ben looked at each other and shrugged. "Whatever he brings I guess. We will find out when we get there. You are going with us aren't you Daddy?"
Marco looked at Marty who was listening with a smile. "I suppose one of us will. You up for camping this weekend Marty?"
Marty laughed, "You're the adventurous one. I have to go into the office this weekend anyway. "
"Looks like I'm camping," Marco acknowledged. "Do I need to pay ten dollars too?"
"I think you do if you want to eat," Sam grinned.
"Oh come on, you'll have fun too," Ben said.
"Where are we going?" Marco asked.
"We're going to camp up at Mohawk Park," Sam told him. "You know, that's where the zoo is."
Marco laughed. "That sounds like a good place for you guys. Maybe you can sleep with the monkeys."
"No, Daddy. They have places with picnic tables and everything," Ben explained. "We are going to hike on some nature trails and stuff."
""Alright, I'm up for that. You're right. It does sound like fun," Marco admitted.
"Go for it scout," Marty laughed.
At the Monday night den meeting Marco accompanied the boys and Brian gave them some more details.
"OK you guys, listen up. We will cook three meals, supper Friday night, breakfast Saturday morning and lunch Saturday noon after our hike. Supper will be a hobo dinner. That's a hamburger patty, carrots, onions and potato wrapped in foil and cooked on the camp fire. Breakfast will be eggs in the hole and you will cook that in a skillet. Lunch will just be sandwiches. I will have soda for you to drink and some orange juice for breakfast. How does that sound?"
Bobby was a small boy with bright red hair. "How do we cook that stuff? We don't know how to do that."
"Brian grinned. "You will after I show you how. You bring the stuff on your list and I will supply the rest. Do you have your food money?"
The boys handed their money to Brian as he checked their names off of a list.
"Is everybody coming? We need some dads to come along too," Brian asked.
Marco raised his hand. "I'll be coming along."
Tyron was the lone black boy in the den and his father was with him. "I'm Leroy," he introduced himself, "and I will come with Tyron."
"Great, two dads will be a big help," Brian said. "I'll need ten dollars for each of you guys."
Alex said he couldn't make it but Marshall was coming. That made Sam, Ben, Troy, Bobby, Tony, Marshall, Brian and the dads. That was six cubs, the Den Chief and two dads – nine people to cook and eat.
Brian collected the money and promised to purchase everything they would need for food.
"OK, if you bring the things on the list I gave you last time we should have everything we need," Brian told them. "Be at the school parking lot at five o'clock Friday evening and we will be good to go. Will you dads be able to drive us up to Mohawk? Mrs. Hernandez will take her SUV and come back at two o'clock Saturday for us. Three cars should be enough to get us up there and back."
"I have a big Ford van," Leroy said. "I can take a lot of the gear."
"I have a little four door sedan," Marco volunteered. "I can take one other boy besides the twins."
"That sounds good," Brian said. "Are there any questions?"?"
"What if somebody gets hurt?" Marco wondered.
"Good question," Brian told him. "I have a first aid kit that I will bring. We shouldn't have any real problems. If we do, we are in the park and they have a ranger and some resources available."
They talked a little more about the nature trail they would be hiking then dismissed to meet again on Friday.
Thursday evening Sam and Ben sorted out what they were to take on the overnight camping trip with their Bear den.
"We don't both need to take a frying pan," Sam complained. "We'll cook together won't we?"
"I think so. Daddy can use our skillet too," Ben agreed."
"Does Daddy have a sleeping bag?" Sam wondered.
"He better," Ben laughed.
"I think we have everything. "How are we supposed to carry a sleeping bag and a pillow?" Sam wondered. "Let's ask Dad."
They took their things into the living room where Marco was packing his own bag.
"How do we carry all this stuff?" Sam asked.
Marco was stuffing his gear in a small rucksack. "You won't have to carry your bedroll on the hike. Just stuff the bag and your pillow into a trashbag I guess. That's what I'm going to do."
Soon there were three fat trashbags with three rucksacks nested on top lined up by the front door, all ready for their adventure.
As soon as Sam and Ben returned from school on Friday they all put their bags in the trunk of the Camry and left for the church. They were the only ones there.
"Where is everybody?" Ben asked with concern.
Marco chuckled, "It's only four thirty. I think we are a little early."
"We didn't want to be late," Sam explained.
They got out of the car and sat on the school steps to wait. Within a few minutes the others began to arrive. When they were all there, Brian had them gather around him.
"OK, I have four nylon pop-up tents," Brian told them. "They are supposed to sleep four but they are kind of small really. They are OK for three people and roomy for two. Who is going to sleep together?"
Tyron spoke up. "I'm going to tent with my dad."
"Who else will sleep together? Brian asked.
Tony and Marshall stood together and raised their hands. Bobby looked at Brian, "Can I tent with you?"
"That will work," Brian said, looking at the twins. "You guys can tent with your dad, OK?"
"Yes," Sam and Ben said in unison.
"Looks like you are stuck with me," Marco smiled.
"Alright then, lets get loaded up," Brian instructed.
The twins and Marco's gear was already in their car. Tony's was in his mother's car and Marshal put his in her car too. Bobby and Brian joined Tyron and Leroy in the van and they were all ready.
"You guys follow us up to Mohawk," Brian told them. I know where we are going, OK?"
That was fine and they formed a caravan to drive north to the old park with Brian pointing the way. He guided them to a campsite at the north corner of the park near the Oxley Center and they unloaded next to an old concrete picnic table. Brian got out and indicated on which side they were to set up the tents, making a neat row.
"First thing we want to do is set up these tents. Everybody watch me while I set up the first one, then I will help you with the rest." Brian tossed out the tents and pulled the first one out of the bag. "Pay attention now, this is really easy."
He unrolled the nylon tent exposing a pile of fiberglass rods which were connected by elastic cords. When he straightened them out they snapped together into two long poles. He slid them into nylon sleeves on top of the tent, allowing them to cross at the center. He slipped one end into a pocket at the base of the tent then crossed to the other end of the pole, bent it and slipped that into a pocket on the opposite side.
"Hold that pole up," he instructed Bobby, then stuck opposite ends of the other pole into each side of the base. Now the tent stood upright although it was rather slack. The sides and bottom were of ripstop nylon and very sturdy. The inside panel of the door and the top of the tent were made of netting to allow ventilation, Reaching into the bag again he withdrew some aluminum spikes and began to hook them into loops on the outside edge of the tent bottom and pulled the bottom flat, stretching it taut.
"OK, there is your tent with a bottom to keep out the bugs. Now it doesn't look like it will rain, but these tents have rain flies. Lets put that on." He unrolled another sheet of nylon tenting and flipped it over the top of the tent, centering it on top then pulling it down so that it fit to the top of the tent stakes with an elastic loop. The cover was separated from the top of the tent by the arched poles and allowed an air space over the tent.
"That's it. Now if it rains the fly will let the water run off and you can still get some air through the top of the tent, OK?" He bent over to one side of the tent and proceeded to unzip a wide panel that allowed entry into the little tent. A second inner panel was of netting and allowed light and ventilation. "There you are," he said proudly. "Home sweet home. Now let's set up the other three, OK? Work in pairs and I'll help you."
"Wow, that's pretty slick,"Ben exclaimed.
"He makes it look easy," Sam agreed.
"Go ahead boys, I'll watch," Marco grinned.
"Aren't you going to help?" Sam asked.
"Sure if you have a problem, but why don't you see what you can do."
They laid everything out, trying to remember what Brian had demonstrated. They spread out the tent part and tried to figure out how to snap the poles together. After a couple of tries they figured that out. Marco held the tent out while they threaded the poles through the tubes at the top. They got on opposite ends of each pole and looked for the right loops at the bottom. After a few tries they managed to get both ends in the right loops then started on the other pole. By the time they got that one hooked up one end of the other pole came loose and they had to refasten it. Suddenly, as if by magic, the tent stood upright and hung from the poles.
"We did it," Ben exclaimed.
"It's not going to rain, do we have to put the top thing on?" Sam asked.
"I think that's part of the deal," Marco said, "Here, I'll help you."
Soon they stood back and admired their tent. When they looked around they saw that all but one of the tents was up and Brian was helping Tony and Marshall with it. It looked pretty good. Not exactly in a straight line, but good enough for a first time.
"There now," Brian said with a smile. "You did good. Put your sleeping bags in the tent you will be sleeping in and we can get dinner started. First lets get a fire going."
Brian had come out the day before and laid out the wood for a camp fire. He pointed to three stacks of wood next to the fire ring. "Look here. We have three kinds of wood. Some little sticks and twigs for kindling. Some small stuff about as big as your fingers, and some bigger firewood. First we wad up some newspaper and make a little teepee over it with the kindling Then we pile the medium sized stuff over that, and finally we will lean some of the big pieces against that. Remember that to make a fire you have to have three things, heat, air and fuel. "
He squatted down next to his creation and pulled out some big wooden kitchen matches. "Now if I've done this right, we should have us a camp fire." He struck a match and carefully slid it under the newspaper at the center until it caught fire. It began to flame up and set the twigs on fire. Brian added a few more small pieces from the side to encourage it and the fire spread until the larger pieces began to burn and with a little huffing and puffing, Brian soon had a roaring fire going.
He stood back with a broad smile. "There you go," he said proudly and laughed. "That doesn't always work the first time," he admitted. Then he turned to Marco, "Keep feeding wood to that and when you have a good fire going, let it burn down so we have some coals, OK? In the meantime I will show these guys how to make a hobo dinner."
Marco nodded in agreement and Brian led the young scouts over to the picnic table.
Brian opened the ice chest he had brought and started taking out the ingredients for their dinner. "I need some aluminum foil," he instructed. Soon he had ten large squares of foil laid out on the table. He opened a five pound package of ground beef and started forming it into patties of one half pound each, which he placed at the center of each piece of foil.
"OK now. Lets cut up the vegetables." He produced three bags containing potatoes, onions, and carrots.
"You should all have your pocket knives. Lets see if you can slice this stuff up fairly small without cutting off any fingers."
He covered the rest of the picnic table with newspaper and the boys sat down and went to work. Brian and Leroy supervised to promote a minimum of safety as the young boys began slicing and dicing. Before long a generous handful of potato, onion and carrots were added on top of the hamburger patties and salt and pepper were sprinkled over the pile.
When they had completed the mix, he showed them how to fold the foil over to make a tight package. Then additional squares of foil were wrapped from opposite sides until everything was sealed up tight.
Now Brian directed his attention to the campfire. "Hey, that looks great. You did a good job," he said to Marco. Most of the wood had been consumed so that Brian was able to poke it around and create a bed of burning coals.
"Alright, now we have a cooking fire. We are going to lay your foil packages out on top of those coals so they can cook.
"Won't they burn up?" Bobby wondered.
"Not if you have sealed them up tight. The heat will stay inside and everything will steam in its own juices. We'll let them sizzle for about ten minutes then turn them over and let them cook on the other side for another ten minutes. It will work, just wait and see."
There were some uncertain looks, but they did as he instructed, then stood around to watch and wait. After the first ten minutes a few interesting smells began to seep out of the foil bundles. Brian used a pair of sticks to flip them over on the coals. After another ten minutes he declared them ready.
"I need a spatula, who has one I can use?" Brian asked.
"Here, you can use ours," Sam said.
Brian bent over the fire and carefully scooped up each foil packet, laying them out on the picnic table.
"They need to cool down for a few minutes. Let's build our fire back up while we wait." More wood was piled on top of the coals and soon their fire was blazing again.
By now they all realized they were very hungry and curious to see what happened to the meat and vegetables inside the carefully wrapped foil bundles.
"OK, let's eat," Brian announced and they gathered around the picnic table. "If you know which one of these was the one you prepared then grab it. Otherwise just get one. They should all be about the same. You can sit at the picnic table or sit on the ground, but let me show you a good way to eat these things."
Brian waited until everyone had claimed a foil packet, then took one that remained. He pulled out his pocket knife and sliced an X across the top. "Be careful now. These are going to be very hot. "Using his knife he pried the aluminum foil back from the center revealing a steaming meal inside.
"Now you can just eat out of the foil bundle, no plates required," he grinned, pleased that the carefully prepared concoction had proven to be successful.
Using their forks the boys carefully began to extract juicy bites of meat and soft vegetables from inside the bundles.
"Mine is all scorched," Marshall complained.
"That must not have been sealed up tight," Brian explained. "That's why we made one extra. Help yourself Marshall."
"Hey, this is pretty good," Sam declared.
"Mine needs salt," Ben said.
Brian put the salt and pepper shakers in the middle of the table. "Here you go. You can always add it after it's cooked, but you can't take it out."
Marco and Leroy sat down out of the way and were sampling their hobo dinners.
"This isn't bad," Marco admitted.
"Not bad at all," Leroy agreed. "I thought they would burn when they were right on top of the coals."
"I think the foil holds in the juices and these things basically steam inside the package. This is pretty clever. Have you been camping very much?" Marco asked.
Leroy laughed. "I was in the Marines for four years. I did enough camping then to last me for awhile."
"Really? That must have been interesting. What did you do in the Marine Corps?"
"I was in Desert Storm. That was interesting."
"Wow, so you were actually in combat?"
"I was," Leroy acknowledged, the smile fading.
Marco noticed the change in expression. "What was that like?"
"I guess at the time is was pretty exciting. Nothing will get your adrenalin flowing like getting shot at."
"Were you wounded?"
"Yeah, but nothing serious. I picked up some shrapnel from a mortar," Leroy shrugged. "It wasn't really a big deal."
"Don't you get something for that?" Marco asked.
"A Purple Heart, yeah I got one of those."
"That makes you a war hero," Marco smiled.
"No, no, nothing like that. I was just another grunt really," Leroy shrugged.
"So what do you do now?"
"Well, when I got out of the Marines I used my veterans benefits to go to college. Now I'm a pharmacist at a Walmart in Tulsa."
"How did you get interested in Pharmacy?" Marco asked.
"I was a medic in the Marines."
"Really? You must have seen some bad stuff."
"I did, for sure. War is not pretty. I lost a few good friends in Iraq."
"I'm sorry," Marco apologized, "I didn't mean to pry."
"No, that's OK. Were you ever in the service?" Leroy asked.
"No, not me. I respect those who did serve, but I never wanted to do that," Marco admitted. "What made you decide to go into the military?"
Leroy laughed, "A Tulsa county judge suggested that I either join the service or do some jail time for a little mischief I got into. I was kind of young and stupid at that time."
"We all make mistakes." Marco nodded. "Your son Tyron sure looks up to you."
Leroy looked away for a moment, " I didn't have much of a father. I decided that if I ever had a kid I would try to be a good father."
"Were your parents divorced?"
Leroy shrugged. "They were never married. I didn't see much of my father growing up."
"So what do you do?" Leroy asked.
"I paint," Marco said, "I'm an artist and try to sell enough paintings to make a living at it."
"Really? That's cool. Your boys are cool too. They look a lot like you."
Marco chuckled. "They do, but actually they are adopted. My partner and I adopted them when they were four."
Marco looked at Leroy, "I am married to another guy. We adopted Sam and Ben so we could have kids."
"Really?" Leroy looked thoughtful. "I wouldn't have guessed that. You don't look like you are..., well."
"I wouldn't have guessed you to be a pharmacist either," Marco chuckled. "Stereotypes don't always hold true."
Leroy laughed. "No, I guess they don't."
"Actually, I can relate to your story. I grew up with a single mother too. I didn't even know who my father was until after I was married."
"Yeah? So where is your father now? Do you ever see him?" Leroy wondered.
"Actually, he is in prison. I located him some time ago and try to visit him when I can."
"Is that right? I wouldn't have guessed that either."
"So where is your father?" Marco asked. "Do you keep in touch with him?'
"No, no. To tell the truth I have two brothers and three sisters and we all have different fathers. It was kind of messed up."
Marco laughed. "We seem to have several things in common."
"I guess we do. It's nice to meet you Marco. You are an interesting guy.".
"So are you," Marco smiled. "So how do you like your hobo dinner?"
"This is pretty good. That boy Brian is something else, isn't he?"
"He is very capable. I can't believe he put all this together by himself," Marco agreed.
"He is really a fine boy. I hope some of that rubs off on Tyron."
"I feel the same way. I hope Sam and Ben will stay with scouting."
Leroy nodded. "If you don't mind me asking, are you and the twins Indian, I mean Native American?"
"We are. I am Seminole, and by coincidence so are the twins. After I located my father I found out he has a brother in Owasso. I looked him up and he's really a good fellow. He's gotten us into the powwows and the boys have started dancing at some of those. It has been a good thing."
"Really? That's very interesting. So you can kind of celebrate your heritage, right?"
"Exactly. A heritage I didn't know I had," Marco acknowledged. "It has been nice for all of us."
"So is your partner Indian too?"
Marco laughed. "No, Marty is a paleface, but he enjoys the powwows too. He takes a lot of photographs then later I use them as references for some of my paintings."
"That's really cool. I would like to see some of your art."
"I have some things at a gallery in Brookside. I can give you the address if you would like."
"I would like that. My wife Shanna is a good cook. Maybe we should get together some time," Leroy suggested."
"That sounds like a plan. Tell me about your wife."
"We met in pharmacy school," Leroy told him. "We are both pharmacists."
Just then Brian called for their attention. "If everybody is finished with your supper, we need to clean up." While they were eating, Brian had set two metal buckets of water on the edge of the fire and the water was hot. In one he had squirted some dish soap.
"Rinse your forks and stuff in the soapy water first then wipe them off and rinse them in the other one," he instructed them. "Wrap up your leftover foil and put that in the trash, OK? When we have finished cleaning up we can have our Campfire."
In a short time they were gathered around the fire eager for whatever came next.
Brian tried to teach them a couple of songs. The first was a simple call and response song that made them all laugh. He sang a line and they echoed it back. It went like this:
Bill Grogan's Goat (repeat),
Was feelin' fine (repeat),
Ate three red shirts (repeat),
Right off the line (repeat).
Bill took a stick(repeat),
Gave him a whack (repeat),
And tied that goat (repeat),
To the railroad track (repeat).
The whistle blew! (repeat),
The train grew nigh (repeat),
Bill Grogan's Goat (repeat),
Was doomed to die (repeat).
He heaved a sigh (repeat),
Of awful pain (repeat),
Coughed up the shirts (repeat),
And flagged the train! (repeat).
They all erupted in laughter and made Brian sing it again.
"OK you guys, Now I want to teach you a skit that you can do at the next pack meeting. Huddle up over here and you dads can be our audience."
Brian whispered some instructions to the six boys who nodded that they understood then lined up facing Marco and Leroy.
The scout next to Brian says loudly. "We had a good time swimming at the beach, but I have sand in my ears." Several of the other boys nod and shout "Me too, me too."
"Well," Brian shouts, "I will show you how Scouts clean sand out of our ears." He pretends to take a drink of water from a canteen then turns and acts like he is blowing the water into the ear of the scout next to him.
That boy acts like he is swishing water around in his mouth then blows into the next boy's ear. This continues until the last boy loudly gargles the water that he secretly had in his mouth then spits it into the campfire.
They all shout, "A Scout is clean!"
It was a perfect skit – quick, simple and silly. Marco and Leroy laughed and applauded loudly.
"Tell us a story," Bobby requested.
Brian thought for a moment then said, "OK, here is a funny one."
One hot and dry day in the Old West, this dog walks into a saloon and says, "Gimme a root beer."
The bartender says, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve dogs here."
The dog took out a silver dollar, put it on the bar, and said, "Look, I got the money, and I want a root beer."
The bartender said one more time, "We do not serve dogs here. Please leave."
The dog growled at him, so the bartender pulled out a gun and shot the dog in the foot! The dog yelped, and ran out the door.
The next day, the dog came back. This time he was dressed all in black. A black cowboy hat, a black vest, three black cowboy boots and one black bandage on his sore foot.
The dog looks around, waits for the talking to quiet down, and says, "I'm lookin' fer the man who shot my paw."
The boys groaned and laughed. Marco turned to Leroy and said "That's what I would call a shaggy dog story."
After a few more jokes and stories Brian stopped them and suggested that they go to bed. "We are going to be up pretty early to cook breakfast and go for a hike, so we better turn in now."
After a quick trip to the toilet Brian made sure they were all settled in their tents. Tyron and his father Leroy were together as were Sam, Ben and Marco. Bobby was to share a tent with Brian and Tony and Marshall in the other.
Of course there was some talking, but they all settled down soon except for Tony and Marshall who whispered and giggled long after the others were quiet. After an hour of this Brian got up with his flashlight and went to their tent.
The inner door panel was zipped up but the outer panel was laid out on the ground. When Brian reached their tent he stuck his flashlight under the rain fly to illuminate the inside of the tent and looked through the front panel. Inside were Tony and Marshall both naked as the day they were born with their hands on each other's dicks. When Brian's light fell on them they jumped and tried to pull their sleeping bags over themselves.
Of course Brian knew what they were doing. He was not so much surprised as irritated that they were keeping him awake. "OK you guys. When I said to be quiet and go to sleep I meant it. Now put your pants on, shut up and go to sleep. If I have to come over here again I will march both of you around the campfire and call the others to get up so you can explain what you are doing that makes you giggle like a couple of little girls."
He switched off his flashlight and returned to his tent. It became very quiet as everyone finally fell asleep.
Marco woke up when he heard Brian scold the two gigglers. He could guess what had happened and chuckled to himself. Boys would be boys, he thought. His were sound asleep at his side.
Tomorrow would be another adventure.
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