Marco, Marty and the Twins
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Two days later Marco called the house and Brian answered his phone.
"It's Marco, Brian. How are the boys?"
"We are all fine. How are you guys?"
"Irene just passed."
"I'm sorry. How's Marty?"
"About like you would expect, I guess. We are trying to make arrangements."
"So, what's going to happen?"
"Irene has lived down here for a long time Brian. This is where her friends are and she has a plot down here. The funeral will be in her Methodist church and we think the boys should come down. It might give them some kind of closure."
Brian hesitated. "OK, so what do you want me to do?"
"I hate to ask you to miss so much work, but we would like you and the boys to fly down for the funeral. I will make arrangements for you to pick up the tickets at the airport and want you to accompany them. They are really too young to fly by themselves and I think they would need for you to be with them anyway. Do you think you can do that?"
"Sure. I can do that. Do you want to talk to them?"
"Yes. I don't look forward to telling them, but right now Marty is in no shape to talk." Marco said sadly. "Can you put them on? You might use the speaker so I can talk to both of them."
Brian took his phone into their bedroom where Sam and Ben were doing their homework. "Hey guys. Marco needs to talk to you." He put his phone on the bed between them and sat down on the floor.
"Hey guys. How are you doing?" Marco asked.
"We're OK Daddy. How is Grandma?" Sam asked nervously.
"I'm sorry guys, but Grandma didn't make it. She is gone now. I guess she is with Jesus."
They looked more frightened than anything. This was a new experience for them. "Is she dead?" Ben asked very solemnly.
"Yeah guys, she is. I'm sorry. I know you guys loved her. But she was really sick and she's better now. She isn't hurting anymore." Marco voice betrayed his emotion.
Sam and Ben looked at each other with sadness but didn't cry. "Did she say anything about us?" Sam asked.
"Yes, yes she did. She said to tell you that she loved you very much. Look guys. I know you want to see her. Her funeral is the day after tomorrow and I want you boys to fly down here with Brian for the funeral. He will look after you, OK?"
Now the tears began to flow. "OK Daddy," Sam said. He thought for a moment. "Tell Papa we're really sorry. I think he's really sad right now."
Marco took a deep breath. "He is Sam. He is very sad. I guess we all are. Did you guys talk to Father Hoover?"
"He came over and talked to us and we said a prayer." Sam said simply.
"That's good. I need to call him after we hang up. I need to talk to Brian for a minute then I have to get back to Marty. You guys be brave OK? I know this is hard."
"OK Daddy. Bye," Sam said sadly.
"Bye Daddy," Ben echoed.
"I'll be right back," Brian said, picked up the phone and walked to his room to sit on the bed.
"Stay with them Brian. We will have to depend on you right now," Marco told him.
"We'll be alright. What do you want me to do?"
Marco cleared his throat. "Call the school and let them know you guys will be gone for a few days. Call the grade school, and you need to talk to somebody at the high school to make arrangements for yourself. This is Wednesday so you will be out for the rest of the week. I imagine we will fly back this weekend. Can you do that?"
"Yes," Brian said quickly. "I talked to Mr. Blankenship the Vice-Principle when you guys first went down there and he was really cool about it. He said he knew you."
Marco chuckled. "Yeah, we go way back. He's a good guy. Listen, why don't you get one of the big suitcases out of my closet and put everything in one bag. The boys can take a little rucksack on the plane with a video game and maybe some books to entertain themselves with. It would probably be best if you put all the clothes and stuff in one bag so you can keep track of it. You will probably have to check it. Let them wear jeans and a decent knit shirt on the plane and pack their best clothes for the funeral. You too. I don't know what flight you need to catch but I will get back to you after I make your reservations."
"OK," Brian replied, not really sure how to do all that.
Marco thought for a minute. "Um, Brian. Have you ever flown out of the Tulsa airport before?"
"No sir. I've never been on an airplane."
"Oh." Marco paused. "Why don't you talk to Wayne. He can tell you what you need to know. I'm sorry Brian. I hate to put you on the spot, but I don't know what else to do."
"Hey, that's fine," Brian assured him."I'll figure it out. We'll be fine, really. Don't worry about anything, just tell me what flight to catch and I'll figure out the rest."
"Thanks Brian. I know we can depend on you. This means a lot to both of us. I'll tell Marty not to worry. Look after the boys, OK?"
"Yes sir." They rang off.
Brian walked back into Sam and Ben's room where they were sitting on the lower bunk looking disconsolate. "Hey guys, you up to riding on an airplane?"
They brightened a little. "Are you going with us?" Ben asked.
"Well sure. You don't think I would let you run off and leave me here by myself do you? Let's pack a big bag. Now what do you want to wear on the plane? And get out your best Sunday clothes. We are going to fly guys." Brian sounded more cheerful than he felt, but he had responsibilities.
They spent the evening deciding what games and books to bring on the airplane and Brian folded and packed some extra clothes in addition to what they would wear to the funeral. He reminded them to pack their toothbrushes and stuck in some soap and deodorant just in case. He had never packed for a flight before, but he had packed for many campouts and tried to think of everything. Scouts were prepared.
Later in the evening Marco called again with times and flight numbers and Brian called Wayne at home. Wayne told him how to get to the airport, where to park, and how to find the check in area, explaining the procedures as best as he could. Brian asked questions until he felt confident he knew what to do and thanked Wayne for the information. He could do this.
They needed to be at the airport early so he got the boys up and dressed, and drove them there with plenty of time. They checked the big bag then went through security and found the right gate. When Brian was satisfied that everything was in order he took them to the little snack bar on the concourse, bought some doughnuts and chocolate milk and they made their breakfast.
Sam and Ben were excited to be flying and were restless.
Can we look around a little?" Ben asked.
"I would rather you guys stayed where I can see you," Brian told them. "This is a big place and I don't want you to get lost."
"Well, can we go look out the window and watch the airplanes take off?" Sam wanted to know.
"Yes, if you will stay in the waiting area. This waiting area, OK?" He sounded firm. He didn't want to have to go looking for them when it was time to get on the flight. They nodded without argument. After all, Brian was the boss of them right now.
They went to the window, sat on the floor and behaved themselves. They watched the airplanes taxi in and out and were content. Soon a number of people began to fill in the chairs and a pair of gate attendants began rattling the keys of the computer.
As Wayne had suggested, as soon as the attendants looked ready, Brian went up, introduced himself and showed them his tickets, explaining that he was traveling with two young boys. They checked his driving license and were satisfied that he looked responsible. They told him that they would try to board them early. Brian checked his pocket several times to assure himself that he still had their baggage check and tried to relax.
About twenty minutes before the scheduled departure time, what looked to him like an enormous aircraft slowly taxied up to their gate and a long walkway snaked out to it. People began to gather up their belongings and Sam and Ben ran over to Brian.
"Is that our airplane?" Ben wanted to know.
"Looks like it. You guys get in front of me so I can see you, OK?"
The gate attendants boarded an elderly lady in a wheel chair first then looked around and motioned to Brian. He herded the excited boys to the gate and handed the flight coupons to be scanned, then followed Sam and Ben down the long covered ramp.
A flight attendant looked at their stubs and pointed to the back. "Seats 35 A, B and C," he said, smiling at Brian. "I'll come and check on you later,"
They made their way down the narrow aisle until they found their seats. Sam and Ben both wanted to sit next to the window and played an airplane version of musical chairs with Sam being the quicker. Brian gratefully sat on the aisle.
"The flight attendant made a few announcements and told them to raise their seat backs, return their tray tables and fasten their seat belts. Sam and Ben knew how to fasten seat belts, but Brian made sure just in case. The engines whined, the big airplane taxied back out of the gate area and began to roll toward the runway. After jockeying for its position it made an awesome noise and began to take off.
Brian had never flown on anything before and was surprised when the aircraft started racing down the runway. The acceleration pushed him back in his seat and he felt a thrill of excitement. This was kind of cool. He looked over at Sam and Ben who were grinning and craning their heads to look out the window as the aircraft rotated and left the ground. They quickly gained altitude then banked high above the clouds and headed south. Next stop: Austin, Texas.
Brian was leaned over Ben trying to see past Sam whose head was in the window, when he heard a voice say, "Soft drink?" The flight attendant had a tray of sodas and was smiling at them, mostly at Brian. "Are you together?" he asked nodding at the twins.
"Yes," Brian answered, handing Sam and Ben a small plastic cup of something fizzy.
The flight attendant smiled again. "I'll be back in a few minutes," he said.
Brian watched him as he worked his way down the aisle. After a few minutes he returned with a basket full of little bags of peanuts.
"Here you go," he chirped. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Brian looked him without smiling and said. "No thanks. The boys might like some more peanuts is all."
The attendant looked mildly disappointed, tossed him two more of the tiny bags and hurried on.
It wasn't a long flight and rather soon they began to descend, with Sam and Ben glued to the window. Then before they were quite ready, it bounced gently onto the runway, roared and braked hard, leaning them forward before easing into a long slow bouncing ride to the gate. Almost before the aircraft stopped moving, people began to stand and pull things from the overhead bins, preparing to deplane.
"Wait guys, we aren't in a big hurry," Brian told them, then when the aisle cleared he stood and pulled their rucksacks from the compartment above their heads. They had been so excited they had forgotten all about them.
They followed the other passengers off the plane and out onto the concourse. An agent was pointing in the direction of the terminal and they threaded their way through the crowd of people. When they left the secured area they saw Marco waving at them and the boys rushed up to him.
"Hi guys. How was your flight?" They both began talking at once. Marco looked over them and asked Brian. "Any problems?"
"Nah, they were good as gold," he smiled, relieved to turn them over to their Daddy.
Sam and Ben crowded to the carousel as their waited for their bag to appear. Brian asked, "How is Marty?"
"He's OK," Marco told him. "I think we have all the arrangements made. Now we have to wait for relatives to arrive. We will all be at Irene's. The service is on Friday."
The bag came around and Brian grabbed it. He and Marco started for the parking lot with the twins skipping along after them. They seemed to have forgotten the reason for their visit, at least for the moment. They remembered when they pulled up in Grandma's driveway. Several cars were there in addition to Marty's new Sienna.
Marty saw them drive up and came to the front door. "Hey, there you are. How was the flight?" In spite of his heavy heart, he was genuinely pleased to see his boys.
"It was fun!" Ben said.
"And we were good, weren't we Brian?" Sam asked for confirmation.
"They were great." Brian verified and shook Marty's hand.
In the house were a small group of friends and relatives who embarrassed Sam and Ben with hugs, kisses and exclamations of how big they had grown. They suffered bravely and began looking for an escape.
They had to be patient while Brian was introduced and explained to the mostly older females present. He managed to escape the hugging. When the conversation turned away from the boys, Marco spoke quietly to Marty who nodded. Marco handed Brian a twenty dollar bill and told him to go take the twins to a movie or something, and handed him the keys to the Sienna, whispering "Be back by five o'clock and be careful with Marty's car," in his ear. Without any argument the three boys slipped out the front door and made their getaway.
Since it was only a little past noon they had some time to kill. Brian drove out of the housing area and down a main street, looking for something interesting. He was careful to notice landmarks which would allow himself to find his way back. He had an orienteering merit badge and felt like he was alright. Within a couple of miles they ran onto a mall and Brian pulled into the parking lot. It was always easy to kill time in a shopping mall.
"Stay with me guys. If I have to go looking for you, you'll be sorry," Brian warned them. They couldn't remember a time when Brian had really gotten mad at them but they were not interested in this being the first time. Besides, he seldom cramped their style. They stayed together.
First they walked around and looked in the shop windows. There was a Sear's store which had a nice sporting goods section. It was always fun to look at tents and fishing rods.
Sam was interested in a big cabin tent. "Wow, look at that. Our whole family could sleep in there."
Has Marty ever gone camping with you?" Brian wondered.
"I don't think so," Sam tried to remember. "He likes to stay at home. Daddy goes camping with us."
"But Papa is a good baseball player," Ben came to his defense.
They dawdled at a display of archery equipment. "You can do that at scout camp if you go next year," Brian suggested.
"That would be neat," they agreed.
"Where do we go for scout camp?" Sam asked.
"There are a couple of camps in the council, Camp Garland and Tom Hale," Brian told them. "Hale is farther away but it's the coolest."
Where will we go this next summer?" Sam wondered.
"Hale, I think." Brian picked up a compound bow and examined it carefully.
"Did you ever shoot one of those?" Ben asked.
"No, but I'd like to," Brian said.
They looked around some more then returned to the rest of the mall.
Ben started looking around. "I need to pee."
Brian spotted the familiar signs and pointed the way to the restrooms. "Over there."
Brian stepped up to a urinal and the boys preferred a pair of stalls. Sam went in the big one on the end then jumped back out quickly looking surprised. "There is some guy in there being nasty," he whispered to Brian.
Brian frowned and told him, "Use another one."
They took care of business and left. Brian told them both. "You need to be careful in a public restroom guys. Some people like to perv on little boys." This was a new concept for them and they made note of the fact.
In one corner was a video arcade with lots of kids banging away at the various machines.
Ben pointed to one of them. "What's that?"
Brian smiled. "That's a pinball machine. Haven't you ever seen one of those?"
Ben shook his head so Brian went to a change machine and fed it some dollars. There was a crash and he scooped a handful of quarters out of the slot. "Here, I'll show you."
Sam and Ben stood next to Brian and watched him bounce the big steel ball around the machine, banging on the flippers and making the ball ricochet around rapidly. He ran up a modest score then watched as his last ball flew down the slot between the paddles.
"I'm not real great at this," he shrugged. "You want to try it?"
First Ben and then Sam tried their luck. Their skill level was low and it didn't take very long for them to run out of quarters.
"That's harder than it looks," Ben admitted.
Brian got some more quarters and they tried several of the other machines. "Pac-Man?" Sam asked.
Brian laughed. "That's a real old one. It's one of the first arcade games, it's kind of fun though." He put in a quarter and demonstrated. They watched the little yellow circle as it munched its way around. Brian handed them both several quarters and they tried it out.
They killed a good bit of time in the arcade that way. Brian didn't like the looks of a couple of guys who were hanging around watching the boys play. He remembered why he didn't much like these places. "Let's go find the food court before we run out of money," he suggested.
They found the small food court and decided on chicken strips and fries at a Chik-fil-A, sitting at a little round table while they ate. The peanuts and earlier doughnuts had not stayed with them and they realized they were hungry.
Brain looked at his watch and noticed it was almost four. "We have to get back pretty soon," he told them. "I think we are supposed to eat dinner with some people."
The thought of going back to Grandma's house without Grandma made the boys uncomfortable.
"Are we going to get to see Grandma?" Ben asked.
"I imagine so," Brian said. "She is probably at the funeral home." That was a sobering thought.
"Where will she be?" Sam wondered.
"Haven't you ever been to a funeral before?" Brian asked him.
"We went to a funeral at our church one time, but we didn't see the dead person." Ben recalled.
"I guess funerals are different some places," Brian tried to explain. "In some places you can look at them and other places the box is closed."
"The box?" Ben was uncertain.
"You know, the coffin. The box the person gets buried in," Brian said.
Sam and Ben looked at each other and frowned. They hadn't thought this far ahead.
"Is Grandma going to be in a box?" Sam didn't think he liked the idea.
With a start, Brian realized that he might be about to upset the boys and tried to be careful how he explained things.
"OK, it's kind of like this. When a person dies they take them to the funeral home and somebody gets them dressed for the funeral. They will comb Grandma's hair and put on a nice dress and make her look real pretty. Then they put her in a real nice little bed like thing with satin pillows and stuff so she is comfortable, and her friends can come and see her and say goodbye."
Sam looked very thoughtful. "And then what?" He wanted to know what was going to happen.
"Well, I have only been to one funeral so I don't know what always happens, but people can see what she looks like and maybe say goodbye to her, but mostly they sit around and talk to each other and maybe remember things about her and tell stories and stuff. It's pretty nice really." Brain looked at Sam and Ben who looked concerned. "It's not scary or anything. Your Grandma will look real pretty I bet."
Ben looked at Sam. "But she's gonna be dead. That's kind of scary."
"Right, but she'll look like she's just sleeping," Brian assured them. "It will be nice, really. Don't be scared. She never scared you when she was alive. She probably won't look scary when she's sleeping. Didn't you ever see your Grandma when she was sleeping before?"
Sam looked at Ben. "This isn't going to be much fun, is it?"
Brian shrugged. "I don't know. The funeral I went to, some of the people were telling funny stories and it made people laugh. "I bet you know some funny stories about your Grandma, don't you? Try to remember some so you can tell them tomorrow."
The twins nodded but didn't look convinced. They finished their chicken and Brian started picking up their wrappers and napkins. "We better go. You didn't get to talk to Marty much and I bet your Papa would like to see you. Maybe you can think of something to make him laugh and feel better."
They walked quietly back out to Marty's Sienna.
"This is a really nice van. You guys are going to like riding in it when you get back home. Marco can take us all camping in it." Brian tried to cheer them up but the mood had turned somber. They got back just at five. By now the driveway was full of cars and Brian had to park down the street a little. They walked up to the front door, knocked a couple of times and then went inside, calling "hello" as they entered.
The house was full of people that the boys didn't know. Marty knew most of them and Marco not so many. Everybody was introduced but the boys were not really expected to remember many of them. The kitchen was filled with covered dishes brought over by the members of Irene's church. Since there were too many to try and eat in any one place, people filled paper plates and ate where ever they could find a spot. Marco, Brian, Ben and Sam retreated into Marty's old bedroom and escaped from the crowd.
"Who are all these people?" Ben wondered.
"Your Grandma had a lot of friends," Marco tried to explain. "Most of them are people from Irene's church and she had a lot of other friends too. It looks like most of them came to call."
"She sure has a lot of friends," Ben said, looking surprised.
"Well, your Grandma was a really nice person. Lots of people loved her," Marco said. "That's a nice thing, isn't it?"
Sam and Ben nodded and ate some fried chicken. This was all rather confusing.
"Where are all these people going to sleep?" Sam wondered.
"They all live around here somewhere. They will visit for awhile then they will go home," Marco explained. "Marty and I will sleep in her room, you and Ben can sleep in here in the bunk beds and Brian can sleep in her guest room. This room with the bunk beds was your Papa's room when he was a boy. He grew up in this house and this was his room."
Ben nodded, "I remember him telling us that when we came here for Christmas that time."
"Right. You guys can sleep in these bunks just like you do at home," Marco smiled. "And Brian will have his room just like he does at our house."
Sam nodded "I wish Grandma was here too."
"I do too Sam, but we'll see her tomorrow. Now it's pretty late. Why don't we all try to get some sleep. We have a big day tomorrow."
Marco kissed them goodnight then turned to Brian. "I'm sorry to impose on you again, but I need to go be with Marty. Can you help get the boys to bed?"
"Sure," Brian smiled. "It will be just like at home.
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