Marco, Marty and the Twins

by Nick Brady

Chapter 18

Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.

Brian rode over to City Cycle to talk to Wayne.

Wayne looked Brian over. "Marco tells me you can work on bikes."

"Yes sir. At least I was able to keep my old clunker going until Marco bought me that Shimano."

"OK, come with me in the back where we work on things. I want you to meet somebody."

Behind the showroom was a workshop with a number of bicycles in various states of repair. Some were hung on the wall and some were clamped on work stands. Tools and bins of spare parts were arranged on a long workbench.

"This is Noah," Wayne introduced Brian to a tall lean young man with a shock of dark hair and roundish glasses. Noah said hi and wiped his greasy hands on a shop rag.

"Tell him what you do, Noah" Wayne asked him.

Noah looked around at the shop. "As you can see, we work on lots of bicycles. People bring them in and we fix and replace whatever they need. Most of them are recreational bikes but we have some serious riders who are always trying different gearing or accessories. When we sell kiddy carts or gear trailers we install and balance those. There is a tandem that I am refitting with a different drive train. We do all kinds of things."

"What's that?" Brian pointed to what looked like a low tricycle."

Noah smiled. "That's a hand cycle. It's for a veteran who lost both legs. It's hand powered. See the long padded tubes coming up from the front wheel? He cranks it with his arms."

"I never saw one of those before," Brian admitted.

"He can move on that thing," Noah grinned. "He's a horse."

"You look busy. Do you have any help?"

Noah shrugged. "I've had a couple of high school kids who helped me for awhile, but they don't last very long. Not everybody wants to get their hands dirty I guess."

Brian had questions for Noah and Noah explained some special tools they had.

Wayne listened to the conversation for a few minutes then said, "Thanks Noah. We'll let you get back to work."

Back in the showroom Wayne looked at Brian and asked, "You want to get your hands dirty?"

"Sure, that looks like fun," Brian replied.

They came to an agreement and Brian was to start on Saturday.

"That's great, thanks, but I wonder about my scouts and baseball. Can I work around that?"

"Scouting is important and so is baseball. Marco tells me that you are good at both of them. I'll keep your hours and pay you for what you work. Is that OK?" Wayne asked him.

"Yes sir," Brian smiled. "Thank you."

"School is about to start. Can you come by after school and put in a few hours?"

"Sure. I can do that every day. My scout meeting doesn't start until seven."

That should work. See you Saturday at eight?"

"See you bright and early," Wayne shook his hand then asked, "Don't you want to know what I can pay you?"

"Uh, yes. I forgot to ask about that."

"How about I start you at eight dollars an hour and we see how it works out. Noah makes more than that, but he's been with me for awhile."

Brian grinned. "That sounds good to me."

"OK kid. I'll see you Saturday."

Brian flew home on his bike and burst in the door to find everybody in the kitchen. "I got the job! I start at the bike shop on Saturday!"

"Hey good for you. Don't spend it all in one place," Marty laughed.

Marco smiled. "Good deal Brian. Try to save some of it."

"I will. I want to be able to buy a car when I save up enough," he grinned.

"I figured that," Marco told him. "That's the first thing I thought about when I was able to save up some money. I bought that old Honda Fit, and I'm still driving it. Marty and I are still driving the cars we bought years ago. We might be able to afford newer ones, but we are trying to put money back to send Sam and Ben to college someday, or take care of an emergency, God forbid."

"If you buy a car, then you can take us places," Ben suggested.

"Yeah, we can go do stuff with you," Sam agreed.

Brian grinned. "I might do that."

School started at the end of summer. The twins started fifth grade and Brian was a sophomore in high school. Brian worked in Wayne's shop every afternoon from three to six and most of Saturday unless he had a campout. With his help, Sam and Ben became Tenderfoot Scouts and enjoyed the monthly campouts with the troop. They were real Boy Scouts now. They enjoyed their friends and usually tented either together or with one of their buddies. Brian normally tented alone. The conversation about relationships was in his mind but he remained somewhat reserved. He saved his money and kept it in a shoebox in his closet. The scout dues and campout expenses came out of that. He was a happy camper.

Several weeks after school started, Brian went from school to the bike shop, then returned home from work after that. Marco had supper waiting for him and sat in the kitchen to keep him company while Brian ate.

Brian looked up from his dinner and told Marco, "You know that guy who was messing with Sam and Ben?"

"The kid at your ball game who pushed them?"

"Right, you said his name was Clyde. He goes to my school, and he's a real jerk. I think he's the guy who was pushing Sam and Ben around."

Marty nodded his head. "He kind of scared them, but he didn't really hurt them," Marco told him.

"What did he do exactly?"

"He called them a name and pushed Sam into Ben," Marco recalled. "It had something to do with their being twins, and probably because they are Indian. Why?"

Brian looked down at his plate. "I don't want anybody messing with them, that's all."

Marco smiled. "It's not worth your getting involved with the bully. I think it was just an isolated incident."

"Well I know who he is now. If something like that happens again I can, like talk to the guy, you know?"

Marco smiled. "Like, don't mess with my little brothers?"

Brian nodded, "Something like that."

"Thanks," Marco said. "I appreciate the offer." Brian put his dishes away and the topic was filed away.

In October Brian turned sixteen.

"What would you like to do for your birthday?" Marco asked him.

"Oh, I don't know. Something with you guys I guess."

"How about a birthday party?" Marco suggested. "Sixteen is kind of a milestone birthday. Would you like to invite some friends over?"

"Well, I don't know," Brian hesitated.

"Think about some of the guys you play baseball with, or maybe from your scout troop. There must be half a dozen guys you know who you could enjoy for a little party," Marco suggested.

'You could invite Bobby and Tyron," Sam said.

"I was thinking of some guys Brian's age, Sam."

"Oh, right."

"Think about it. This is a safe place Brian," Marco smiled gently.

Brian did think about it and a few days later brought up the subject. "Were you guys serious about that birthday thing?"

"Yes. Have you thought about it?" Marco inquired.

"Well, it might be OK. I have never actually had a party before," Brian admitted shyly.

"Well it's high time you did. Who are you thinking about asking?"

Brian hesitated. "I think you know these guys. I was thinking some guys from the scout troop. I guess I know them better. Maybe my Assistant SPL Tommy, and maybe Fred and Luke? What do you think?"

"Those are all good fellows. I think that would be fine. Want to do something special?"

"Uh, I don't know."

"There is a powwow coming up. Do you think they would enjoy that?"

Brian brightened. "Yeah, we are talking about doing an Indian Lore merit badge program. Maybe that would give us some ideas, and I guess Sam and Ben will want to dance."

"Sure, we could go in the afternoon then come over for ice cream and cake. We'll keep it simple."

"OK. I can see that."

"How about Saturday afternoon?" Marco suggested.

"I'll have to ask Wayne if I can get off early."

"I bet Wayne will be alright with that. Consider it done."

Brian looked a little uncertain but nodded and agreed. "OK," he said.

Brian called his friends to invite them, and seemed almost surprised that they all accepted. "I guess they are all coming."

"Those are all good guys," Marco told him. I think it will be fun."

They all showed up at noon on Saturday. Luke was seventeen and drove himself over. Tommy and Fred were dropped off by a parent. They sat and visited for a little, then the older boys went to the powwow with Marco, and Marty brought the twins complete with regalia.

They walked into the Center to the sound of pounding drums. "Hey, this is cool, Luke said."

"Brian perked up. "Wait until you see the dancing. Sam and Ben are pretty good."

They looked around at the arts and crafts exhibit. Marco had submitted a few paintings and they were surprised to see them. "Gee, these are nice." Fred said.

They sat in the stands and watched as the various groups paraded in. Marco had gone to get the twins in the proper place and Marty sat with Brian and his friends. None of them had attended a powwow before and found the colorful regalia interesting. Around four o'clock it was time for Sam and Ben to dance and Marty went down to take pictures.

"There are the twins," Brian pointed them out rather proudly.

"They look different in those clothes," Tommy said. "This is cool."

"Actually this is the first time I have been to one of these," Brian admitted, "but they practice at home and they are really good. Wait and see."

Down on the floor Travis saw them and ran over. He was pleased to see them.

"Hey you guys. I haven't seen you since last summer. Are you dancing?"

"Yes," Ben said. "Can you paint us up like last time?"

"Sure, "Travis said and did their faces with yellow and white, adding a red streak over their eyes.

"Wow, that's cool," Sam said as the boys looked each other over.

There was quiet as the group of young boys walked out on the floor. The drums began to throb, boom bah, boom bah, and they all started to dance, toe heel, toe heel.

Sam and Ben were back in their element. They spread their arms and spun around, bobbing and weaving and looking very smooth. They were a little older now, and the competition was stiff. To the scouts who were seeing this for the first time, it was most impressive.

"Wow, is that the Sam and Ben who are in our troop? They are really good!" Luke exclaimed.

"Those are my little brothers," Brian said, "or kind of."

"I would claim them," Tommy laughed.

The drums sounded four strong beats, boom, boom, boom, Boom! And the dancing stopped. Marco and Marty walked the twins up to sit with Brian and his friends. They were flushed and excited.

"Did you see us?" Ben asked.

"Yes, you guys looked great," Brian said. "I was impressed."

Tommy, Fred and Luke agreed. "You guys were awesome," Luke told them.

Now that Sam and Ben had completed their part of the program, they all walked back down to the exhibition area and enjoyed an Indian Taco and a Pepsi. They sat around and talked as a group. Sam and Ben received some congratulations.

"Are there prizes?" Fred asked.

"There are. Last year Sam and Ben did very well," Marty told them.

"We won first place! Both of us!" Ben boasted.

Luke laughed, "I be t you do it again."

"They might, but we have to leave before they declare the winners. That happens kind of late," Marco said.

They tossed their wrappers and cups in the trash and left for the parking lot. When they got home Marco took out a cake with "'Happy Birthday Brian' written on top and pair of candles, a one and a six, then lit them. Brian grinned as they sang the birthday song to him and laughed as he blew out the candles. Marco scooped out bowls of ice cream and they all enjoyed themselves. When the treats were finished, Brian and his three friends went in his bedroom and shut the door to talk about whatever teenage boys like to talk about.

Sam and Ben looked like they wanted to join them but Marco shook his head. "Leave them alone. Brian needs some time with his friends, OK?"

They grinned and occupied themselves with a video game.

At nine o'clock Marco tapped on the door to say that it was about time to end the party. The boys shuffled out and Fred and Tommy started to call home. "Hey, I can take you," Luke volunteered. That sounded like a good plan, and after a few congratulations to the birthday boy, they prepared to leave.

"Hey thanks a lot, Brian. This was fun," Luke told him. "See you later."

Then they were gone and Brian stood at the door to watch them drive away.

He returned to the kitchen to where Marco and Marty were sitting.

"How was it?" Marco asked.

"That went great," Brian admitted. "The powwow was a good idea. I think we all enjoyed it."

"Good. Glad you did," Marty said. "So did we."

Brain sat with them for a few minutes then went into his bedroom and stretched out on the bed. He had put a few baseball posters on the wall and they had found a more appropriate bedspread for a boy's room. It now looked like his room rather than a guest room. He felt right at home.

The boys had been shooed to bed and the house was quiet. At ten Marty went into their bedroom and Marco stopped and tapped on Brian's door although it was standing open.

"Happy birthday Brian. Did you enjoy your friends?"

Brian looked over at Marco. "Yes, I really did. That's the most I've ever talked with them. It was fun. Thanks Marco."

"You're welcome. Goodnight."

The routine of school, scouts and work consumed Brian's time. He shuttled from one to the other on his Shimano and had little spare time. His shoebox began to fill up with the majority of his earnings. Marco suggested that they open a bank account for him but he said he liked to look at the money.

Sam and Ben began to bring homework from school and started on their Second Class requirements. Brian helped them when he could, but his time was limited. Marco began to become an expert in first aid.

"Speaking of scouts," Marco asked Brian, "How are you doing with those Eagle merit badges? You need to be thinking about a service project too."

"I know," Brian groaned. "I don't have any time now. I'm starting to worry about that a little. I really do want to make Eagle.

"Well, you have until you are eighteen."

"Right. I need to start chipping away at it. I've got to find a counselor for my Citizenship merit badges. Those take a lot of time."

"Well, don't beat yourself up about it. If you don't complete your Eagle it's not the end of the world. It's kind of a shame to go all the way to Life and not finish it though."

"I know, I know," Brian shook his head in frustration. "I'll do it, I promise."

Just before Thanksgiving Brian got a phone call. He talked for a minute then hung up and spoke to Marco. "That was Luke, you know, from my birthday party?"

"Sure I remember. He seemed like a sharp guy."

"Well, he wants me to go to a movie with him."

"OK. You going?"

"Well, yes. I said I would." Brian looked nervous.

"Is this a date, or just a movie with a friend?" Marco asked.

"Date? No, he said he just wondered if I wanted to see this show."

"Good. That's what friends do. Are you OK with it?"

"Yeah, I guess. I mean I never did that before."

"Go to a movie?"

"Well, not just with another guy."

Marco smiled at him. "What do you think about Luke?"

"Well, uh, he is a cool guy. We talk at scout meetings sometimes. Yeah, I like him a lot."

"Do you find him attractive?

"Um, like that kind of attractive?"

"Right."

"Yeah, in a way."

"Do you think he likes you in the same way?"

"No, I don't think so. He is a nice guy, I don't want to screw up."

"Remember the three second rule?" Marco asked.

"Um, like take a look then get over it?"

"Right, something like that. Can't you just be friends without trying to see something sexual in it."

"I think so. I mean I talk to him at scouts a lot now. We are sort of friends."

"So go to a movie with your friend and enjoy the show. You don't have to plan to do anything more than that, do you?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Brian. Relax, be cool, enjoy the movie, OK?"

Brian grinned. "OK."

Came the big night and Brian looked a little nervous. "Do you need a ride?" Marco asked him.

"No, Luke has a car."

"Cool. You OK?"

"Yeah, I think so. I've been thinking about what you said. This should be alright. I just have never really done this before."

"Remember Brian. This isn't a date, it's just a movie with a scout friend."

"I know, I know." A horn honked outside and Brian hurried out.

At about ten-thirty a car pulled up, a door slammed and Brian came in. Marco was sitting at the TV watching the news.

"Hey, you still up?" Brian asked.

"Looks like it," Marco smiled.

"Were you waiting up for me?"

"Well, you know. How did it go?"

Brian sat down looking very happy. "It was nice. It was a pretty good show. We talked some, that's all. After the movie we stopped at a Braum's and had ice cream. We ran into a couple of guys we knew from school and talked to them. It was cool."

"No torrid sex?"

"No!" Brian laughed. "We just talked, you know."

"That's what friends do," Marco reminded him.

Brian smiled and went to bed.

Thanksgiving came and the family talked about plans for a nice dinner. Marco called Irene and she said she wasn't up to the drive to Tulsa. Marco tried to call his mother but Margaret's phone number had been disconnected. They asked Brian if he had a preference and he hinted that a family dinner would be very nice. So that's what they did. Marco roasted a turkey, baked sweet potatoes and those green beans with mushroom soup and fried onions on top. Marty made a nice Caesar salad and bought a pumpkin pie at the Village Inn. He sliced up a can of jellied cranberry sauce and they were set.

The five of them sat down at the dining table. Marco and Marty sat next to each other, on each side were Sam and Ben, with Brian between them. With all the traditional feast on the table the aroma was heavenly. They linked hands around the table and Marco looked at Brian.

"Would you like to say the grace?"

Brian hesitated then bowed his head. "Uh, God is good, God is great, thank you for this food."

They all said, "Amen," then Marty stood and began to carve the bird while the rest passed around the side dishes. It was yummy.

Christmas came and with it a party at St. Jerome's. It was one of those family things and kids were welcome. Sam and Ben were up for it, but Brian was not sure he wanted to go.

"It will be fun. There will be some other teens there from the church," Marco suggested.

"Well, I don't really know any of them," Brian protested.

"You would if you ever went to the youth group." Why don't you come and see if you can meet some of them?"

Brian resigned himself. To his surprise Luke was there along with several other teens.

"What are you doing here?" Brian asked.

"We go to St. Jerome's. Why are you here?" Luke replied.

"I've never seen you there."

"We go to the early service. I bet you come at eleven."

"Right, we go to the later service. Besides, I guess I haven't been coming for that long."

Luke smiled. "Well it's nice to see you anyway. You should come to the youth group on Sunday evening. It's kind of fun."

"Yeah? I might do that."

Marco watched the exchange and recalled a church party that Marty had coaxed him into attending some years ago. Scouts and church, he thought to himself.

The scout troop discussed their plans for a winter campout. Some of the boys wanted to try and have a 'Polar Bear Campout' and camp in the snow. The problem was that it was impossible to predict when it would snow in Oklahoma. They agreed that if they had a decent snowfall on a Friday, they would call an impromptu campout on the next day. Not everyone might come, but those who wanted to would meet at nine o'clock Saturday morning and go to a public use area that would probably be deserted in that weather.

As luck would have it, the first Friday in February saw a four-inch snow and the phones were ringing to coordinate the event. It was a go.

The Scoutmaster was not free that weekend, but Leroy showed up with his van and they hooked up the troop trailer. He agreed to come with Tyron and between him and Marco, they had twelve hardy scouts who braved the cold and made their way to the campsite. They set up their tents in a neat line facing the small lake. A couple of bales of hay were broken up and spread over the snow under each tent and they built a big campfire. They were ready.

Two big Dutch ovens were used to make their famous stew and the day was spent in some general horsing around and snow ball fights. The primary goal was to have a good time. Brian supervised the frying of some chicken for supper and they baked potatoes wrapped in foil in the coals. They sang and joked around the fire then decided to bed down early to escape from the cold. The boys paired up and went to the tents. Leroy tented with Tyron, and Marco insisted on tenting with Sam and Ben. He wanted some additional body heat. The rest paired up as they pleased. Brian shared a tent with his friend Luke.

In the morning Marco woke up and peeked out of the tent flap. It was very cold and very quiet. He noticed some movement in one of the tents and saw the top of a blue mummy bag appear through the flap. A body stood still encased in the bag and hopped a few feet away from the tent, looking like a large upright blue caterpillar and crouched over. There was a slight movement from inside the bag then a thin yellow stream arched out casting a plume of steam. After a moment the bag turned around and hopped back to the tent to disappear inside. A sight to remember. Scouts are resourceful.

Before long, Brian appeared followed by Luke and the two bent down and rekindled the camp fire. When it was blazing nicely, they went down the line of tents to rouse the sleepy scouts.

"Alright you guys. Get up and get after it. We aren't going to serve you breakfast in bed," he heard Brian say as he shook the tents.

Reluctantly the boys began to emerge with their coats pulled tightly around their necks to stand close to the fire. Luke brought the Dutch ovens over and they began to prepare their breakfast. Marco roused Sam and Ben and they joined the rest. Marco and Leroy stood back and let the boys go after it. With some coaching from the older scouts a fine aroma began to fill the cold air. It was scout business as usual.

A belly full of hot scrambled eggs, toast and hot cocoa did wonders to revive them, and the games began. The agenda was primarily to survive in the cold weather and have a good time. It was a success. Marco was impressed and very pleased to see how well they all worked together, particularly Brian and Luke. They made a good team.

They rolled up the tents and broke camp at ten o'clock and were back at the church by noon to be picked up by their families. Sam, Ben and Brian got in with Marco and returned to the house. Marty greeted them at the door.

"How did it go, boys? I wish I could have been with you," Marty said as they stomped in the door and brushed the snow from their clothes.

"You could have come," Marco laughed.

"Well, somebody has to keep the home fires burning. Come on in and I'll fix you some hot chocolate," Marty offered.

"That sounds good," Sam shivered. "It was cold out there."

Sam and Ben related the weekend's adventure to Marty while Marco and Brian hung up the wet coats and flopped on the sofa.

"You and Luke did a good job with that," Marco told him. "You were the only senior scouts there."

Brian grinned. "Not everybody wants to camp in the snow I guess. It went OK."

"You and Luke seem to be getting along," Marco observed.

"Yeah," Brian agreed." He's OK."

"It's nice to have a friend," Marco said. "I think he mainly showed up to support you."

"You think so?"

"You did a good job. That would have been a mess without your leadership."

Brian smiled. "Thanks. I appreciate you and Leroy being there."

"Well, your scoutmaster wasn't free this weekend. Somebody had to do it."

"I'm glad it was you," Brian said. "You always seem to be there for me."

When March came the weather began to turn nice. As always in Oklahoma, the weather was unpredictable, but there were spells of warm sunny days and some with rain. In April baseball season

began and the Drillers were playing again. The first two opening days there were lots of free general admission passes available from the Quiktrip. They skipped the first day figuring it would be too crowded, but on Friday night the whole family attended. No box seats this time, but they came early and found some decent seats on the third base side.

"I would rather sit up from third base anyway, Marty said," That way the sun is not in our eyes and I think we can see better."

Marco and Brian agreed, Sam and Ben were busy looking for Hornsby and working on a ball of cotton candy they had begged for.

"That stuff will rot your teeth," Brian teased.

"No it won't," Ben argued. "We will wash the sugar away with the Pepsi."

"What do you think is in the Pepsi?" Marco laughed.

"We can grind it away with some peanuts," Sam suggested. "They don't have any sugar."

"Did you come here to watch baseball or eat?" Marco asked.

"Both," Ben said.

The game was fun although it got a little cool when the sun went down and the lights came on. They warmed up with chili dogs and enjoyed the game.

Brian was still working at the bike shop and was carefully saving as much as he could. By the end of school he had accumulated over five hundred dollars. He was pleased to report that he had all A's and B's for the semester.

"I can really start to save now. When school is out I can work more hours," Brian figured.

"How much is Wayne going to let you work?" Marco asked.

"Now that I'm sixteen I think he will let me work full time, but I think that means he will start holding out taxes."

"Death and taxes are sure things," Marco chuckled. "Welcome to the real world."

"Well anyway, I am supposed to start Monday morning. I guess I'll see what my first paycheck is. Wayne has been paying me cash so far."

Monday evening Brian sailed home on his bike with good news.

"Hey Marco! Wayne called me over for a talk today. He said he was happy with the work I've been doing. Noah told him I was picking up stuff really fast. Wayne said he's going to raise my pay to ten dollars an hour and maybe let me work some overtime on Saturday. Even with the taxes that will be more money!"

Marco closed one eye and did a mental calculation. "With twenty percent withholding that's still over three hundred a week. We can't claim you as a dependent so you will file your own taxes and likely get a lot of that back next year. That will add up pretty fast."

"Yes!" Brian did a fist pump.

Marco gave him a straight look. "If Wayne is going to start paying you with a check, you really should open a bank account to deposit your money. Marty got me to do that when I started working and it was a good idea. You can get a debit card and not have to carry cash around."

Brian was not sure. "I don't know, I kind of like to see that cash in my shoe box."

"I understand that, but if Wayne is cutting you a check, you'll have to get it cashed somewhere and that can be a hassle. You can drop a check in the bank and be done with it, and maybe pull out a little walking around money when you do."

"I can see that. Maybe that's an idea."

"Another thing you might consider is trying to save a little. You can also start a savings account with the bank and put like ten percent of your salary in that and just pretend it isn't there. You might be glad you have that if something unexpected comes up."

Brian had never considered that. "OK, let me think about it."

"You are on the road to financial security my man," Marco laughed. "You're doing fine."

"I guess I am. This is working out pretty good."

"How are you getting along with Noah?" Marco wondered.

"He's good, kind of quiet, but he knows everything about bikes. I'm learning a lot."

"Is he OK to work with?"

"Yes, he's pretty cool. He doesn't joke around much but he seems like a nice guy. I think he kind of likes me."

"Good, that makes the job easier."

"Yeah," Brian smiled. "He's kind of neat really."

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