Jay & Miles

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 61

POV: Henry, Mikey, Kevin

"So, what time do you want to start on Jay's truck tomorrow, Dirck?" I'd heaved a sigh of relief once Mikey had handed the phone back to Jay's father. Miles had acquired one trait from Anne I tried to break him of without result: he was a worrier. Sure, my episode yesterday with the emergency squad gave him some reason, but only I knew how I felt, and it didn't seem like a serious problem to me.

"Are you sure you feel up to it?" Dirck asked him. "Don't worry…the boys have gone into the family room to start their homework, but they are concerned. Anyway, they're off studying now, so you can talk plainly if you'd like."

"Okay…well, Dirck, I spent the whole morning and afternoon at Mt. Carmel East being poked and prodded and tested, and yes I know it could have been bad, but what they told me was things were all within fairly normal limits at the time. There are some blood tests and X-rays and things other doctors need to look at, but those results will be in by Thursday, and they didn't seem too worried about what might turn up.

"I called work first thing this morning and took a week's sick leave to placate Anne, so now would be a good time to get a start on rebuilding the truck bed."

Before Dirck could bring up any further objections, Henry went on. "Look, the first part of the job would be to take measurements, then figure out the amount and type of wood we want…that's no more stressful than doing something like playing cards."

Dirck's sigh was clearly audible through the phone line. "Pokkers, you win. Come over about 8:30, and I'll move the truck into the equipment shed—it'll be easier to work there rather than in the barn."

Henry chuckled through a burst of static. "What the heck was that? Did you just swear at me?"

Dirck returned the laugh. "You'll have to learn Danish to find out…unless Jay's taught it to your son by now."

"Guess that's something else we'll have to talk about tomorrow, young man—see you then." He hung up, knowing he was leaving Dirck to ponder.

What did Henry mean by something else to talk about? Did he suspect what the real relationship was between their two boys?

The guys had filed into the family room to seat themselves on the chairs and couches before organizing themselves into their usual teams for studying. Book-bags were placed on the floor waiting to be opened, but everyone could see Miles had a worried look on his face even after talking to his dad on the phone.

"What did your father say," asked Jay from his place on the smaller sofa next to his boyfriend. Greg and Denny Watson shared the other, while Ben and Calvin each had one of the chairs, being of larger build than their other four friends.

Mikey took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose, then grabbed a tissue from his pocket to wipe the thick lenses before putting them on again. Jay knew this was one of his kæreste's nervous habits that showed up from time to time, so he took his left hand in his right to give him a bit of comfort.

"He said they ran all sorts of tests this morning and everything looked okay for the ones they could give results on right away, but others wouldn't be in until Thursday…."

"That's good news then," Benny said with some assurance in his tone. "I mean, I've had visits to the hospital after some sports injuries, and they can tell you an awful lot from those first results. The more in depth things are just to rule out anything out of the ordinary that might be going on…."

"How was he feeling this morning when you saw him?" Calvin cut in from the chair next to his wrestler boyfriend.

Mikey thought about that for a few seconds, thinking back and comparing how it compared to other mornings when they'd seen one another. The only thing he could point to with any surety was that his father had seemed a bit more serious, but nothing physically different stood out.

"He looked about the same as always, but was maybe a little quieter," he admitted softly. He felt Jay's hand grasp his tighter, and gave his blond Dane a small smile.

"There you go then," Denny Watson said authoritatively. The other guys knew his great-grandfather had been a local physician whose work back in the last century had caused their high school to be named for him some twenty years ago, at the time it was built. Of course, they also knew this gave him no special insights into anything medical, but they gave him indulgent smiles anyway in light of Mikey's current situation.

Mikey cocked his head to one side and looked at his lanky runner friend before breaking out into a little grin. "Another expert medical report from our own Marcus Welby," he teased. "Does Dr. Kiley agree with you?"

Everyone else groaned. Miles was a font of television trivia, and this one referred to a popular series about an older general practitioner and his younger assistant. The older man who played Doctor Welby had been in television for decades, and one of the main reasons Miles watched it was because the younger star was pretty cute, much the same excuse he had for watching the old Police drama "Adam-12". He would never admit that to his friends, especially not to Jay, but he suspected each of them had fantasies about male stars most nights when they were alone in bed doing that thing boys loved to do before falling asleep.

Okay, they knew about his fascination with Michael York, but that had only come to light when they had plans to go see Logan's Run at Eastland Mall when it opened next month. No need to give them more ammunition to tease him with.

They chatted a bit more, trading more jibes, then began pulling out books and class notes. "Guys, what with worrying about my Dad, I'm not sure I got all my notes in class…can I take a look at yours before we get into the books?"

Since they generally had the same classes, if not during the same periods, they agreed it was a good idea, but Greg had a suggestion that sounded even better. "Why don't we let Mikey follow along in his, while each of us reads the ones for each subject? He can add things he missed, and the rest of us can do that or toss in things we might have added that the reader didn't—"

"Good idea, Reb! Some people just write down the high points, while others make sure they have every word the teacher says. I'm somewhere in the middle of that range, so I think it'd be interesting to see how the rest of your minds work," Denny said, still with a faint trace of his New England twang.

For the next forty-five minutes, that's what they did, and as it turned out, there were only a few times where somebody had to add a new bit of information to his notes. Mikey, despite his worries, had missed very little that he could tell without checking the books again. Had they actually looked at the pages each of them had written, things would have been more confusing—some of them had fairly neat longhand, while others ranged from mediocre to nearly illegible scrawls. And that was without some truly individual abbreviations when things got rushed. Still, each boy's system worked for him, and could be easily translated into fairly proper English so the others could make sense of it.

Mikey put his pen down and smiled broadly. "Thanks you guys, that just leaves the classes we don't have in common. Want to start on those now, or can we grab some snacks from Jay's kitchen?"

"Jay's mom always has something good tucked away for us hard-working men," Greg said, and the rush for the hall and the kitchen beyond began, only slightly slowed by the few steps up and through the wide portal rarely closed by its pair of pocket doors. The entrance to the dining room was passed in favor of the right turn beyond that which had a more open path than the antique furniture of the more formal and seldom used room allowed.

No one was too surprised to see Rosalie standing near the refrigerator with her hands on her hips and a grin on her face. Her quick glance at the round electric clock made them stop in their tracks. "Not bad, boys, but it's still more than two hours until dinner time. Since you didn't bring home pizza, I assume you want me to do something about feeding you?"

The shuffling of feet in response was muted because they'd all left their shoes on the screened-in back porch before coming further into the house. "Well…we were sorta hoping—" Jay began, but was cut off by his mother's laugh.

"Today's your lucky day—I went to the grocery store while you were in school, so there are the usual sandwich options in the fridge, and sodas too along with milk and cider. You've got fifteen minutes to clear out so I can start work on dinner." Just before she left the room, she added "…and I better not have a mess to clean up when I come back."

It didn't take long before a sort of assembly line formed at the table, starting with bread choices: white, wheat and rye, then condiments like mayonnaise or mustard, then to fillings like ham, salami or beef, then cheeses like Swiss or American. Peanut butter and jelly had lost the vote due to Rosalie's warning about too many dishes to clean. Drinks were next with all of them choosing Pepsi, and one final scrounge turned up a fresh batch of sugar cookies hiding in the cookie jar in the far corner of the countertop to the left of the double sink.

They were making inroads on their snacks and just lazing around when they heard the back door slam and then the sound of a car heading out toward the road back to the high school. Footsteps approached from the direction of the kitchen, and stopped as a head poked through the doorway. It shook from side to side and a sigh came from the newcomer's pursed lips. "I see the gang's all here—and eating like the pigs boys always are…"

Jay gave his older sister a one-fingered salute and laughed. "So Bobby got tired of your mouth and brought you home early?"

Lene tossed her longish blonde hair and laughed back at her sibling's dig. "Hardly—we went to his house after school so we could see what clothes he had for the Prom this weekend, now that I have my dress nearly done."

Jay snickered. "What? Not going as a cowgirl or a European peasant? Those are the types of things you usually wear to school…"

"As if you knew anything about girls—or their fashions," she said, snorting derisively. "High fashion for you is if you manage to tuck your shirt in, or making sure your socks match. Now, your boyfriend, on the other hand…he manages to have some style!"

That comment brought out a round of laughs from the other boys, except for Miles whose face was taking on a reddish blush. He didn't think he dressed that much differently from his friends, but he had to admit his jeans had no tears or badly worn spots, and he tended to wear button-up shirts to school rather than most guys' tees. The one feature he figured that set him apart the most was his preference for penny loafers rather than tennis shoes, but that stemmed from the fact he really hated tying his shoes as a kid, especially the dress shoes he'd had to wear to church on the Sundays his parents did go. He still remembered the jackets and clip-on ties with horror that he'd had to wear, even on the hottest days of summer vacation. He'd been extremely glad when they stopped going after his twelfth birthday and the start of his father's second job.

"Are you going all formal like mor wanted," Jay asked in a more curious tone.

Lene looked back over her shoulder to make sure their mother wasn't in earshot before replying quietly. "No, and let me tell you that was a tough fight, but I got her to listen to reason, at least a little bit. With far's help by setting a budget, she agreed it made no sense for a dance being held in a school gym."

"Yeah, yeah, you're good at persuading people to see your side, but that still doesn't tell us what you're going to wear…."

"Tys, bror, and I'll tell you. Did you see that movie with Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore set in the 20s…"

Of all people, it was Denny Watson whose head jerked up. "You mean the one where they dance in an old elevator and has those cool cars and that cute James Fox who plays Mary's blond brother?"

"It had some neat dances too, along with that hilarious Chinese villain played by Beatrice Lillie," Miles added, not to be left out in the trivia department.

They were diverted for a few minutes while Denny described the plot of girls being abducted by Lillie and sold into white slavery, and how she picked girls with no friends or relatives to miss them if they vanished from her ladies' hotel for respectable young girls.

"…Sad to be all alone in the world…" Mikey and Denny said at the same time, repeating the woman's line indicating who the next victim might be. Of course, Mary's character gets picked, and Julie has to come to the rescue with the aid of the Fox guy who she doesn't know is Mary's brother in disguise.

Lene laughed at the line too, and nodded. "That's it…I'm going to wear a knee-length dress with a dropped waistline like those in the movie, and a headband and choker like a jazzy flapper would."

"So Bobby's going to be forced into a monkey suit?" Greg asked. "That doesn't sound fair to me."

"That's why we went looking at his house. He said they had some old clothes up in their attic, and so long as it was close enough we figured it could work…."

"Wait," Benny cut in, "I seem to remember they all wore those huge fur coats and silly straw hats, right?"

Calvin thumped his boyfriend's bicep hard, and then shook his head. "Benj, even I know that was mainly college or fraternity guys back then! Regular guys probably wore shirts and pants like normal, and maybe a cloth cap like in that Clifton Webb movie about the Titanic. You can see a guy dressed just like Mikey walking around trying to get on a life-boat,"

"Hey—!" Mikey shouted indignantly at the slur on his fashion sense, or was it that he'd be trying to get onto a boat to escape?

It took a few seconds for Mikey to calm down before informing them that those 'furry coats' were called 'raccoon' coats, and the hats were 'straw boaters'. He paused for a second, then his face lit up with a huge grin and he began laughing almost uncontrollably. Jay grabbed his arm and gave him a little shake to get his attention, which he managed to do after another minute or two.

"What's wrong, elskede?"

Mikey managed to get his words out pretty well, but he still had to stifle a giggle by the time he was finished. "I got this picture in my head of what your sister must have had in mind for Bobby, and I couldn't help myself—Remember Eb Dawson, the tall farmhand on Green Acres when he'd dress up for a date…? That stupid cloth cap, sports coat…and cheesy bow tie…?"

"Oh jeez—and those brown work boots not quite hidden by his pants that were too short…." Jay howled with glee along with Mikey.

"You guys all suck," Lene said hotly, and made a gesture which none of them had any trouble interpreting, but she gave them one last parting shot before turning and stomping her way toward the main stairs to her room. "Even on his worst day, Bobby has more class in his little finger than the rest of you yokels—and he knows how to use his skills to please a girl!"

The joking died down right away, and Mikey was the first to admit they might have gone too far making fun of Bobby Thomas The rest agreed immediately, and Jay calmed them a bit more by saying he'd go up to talk with her in a half hour or so to give her time to get control of her temper.

"Want to try hitting the books some more," Calvin asked quietly.

After fifteen minutes or so, none of them had been able to concentrate on the chapters they were trying to read in those classes they took alone. Benny closed his book and stood up.

"I'm gonna go talk to her, Jay. I think this might be one topic you're too close to her to deal with just now. This is more a relationship thing than a brother thing…."

Jay stood up too, and wrapped the much taller wrestler into a tight hug. "I think you're right, man. Make sure she understands we all love her and are really sorry for acting so mean about Bobby. He's always been super cool to us when it got rough during gym, especially when it came to his 'friend' Timmy Zane."

While Benny was upstairs, the rest of the boys speculated on whether he'd be successful at getting Linda to accept their apologies. They knew the wrestler had dated her briefly last year, breaking up with her around Thanksgiving after revealing to her that he was finally ready to admit to himself he was more attracted to other boys than girls. Surprisingly, she'd taken it well, and admitted during that conversation she'd wondered a bit after noticing some similarities between his behavior and that of her younger brother Jay—it wasn't anything obvious, but she'd spotted those subtle clues, and adding in how differently he behaved from the other school jocks, his words confirmed it in her mind. Being who she was, and raised in such a loving family, she'd kept him as a good friend who had a lot of courage and more than a little concern for the people around him.

They all heard a door close, and then footsteps coming down the main stairs toward the family room. When Benny came through and down the steps into the waiting group, they relaxed and Jay let out a long sigh of relief. The tall, black-haired athlete was smiling and gave an exaggerated swipe across his brow, pretending to remove a lot of sweat from a difficult job well done.

"Sheesh, that was rough," he began, then gave a little laugh. "Okay, not as bad as we'd thought, but still…Jay, you guys sure have some big battles at times, but she knows you love each other when push comes to shove."

Mikey watched as his Dane's face turned pink, and he stifled a giggle at his embarrassment. His first impression of Jay's sister hadn't been great, but it had changed a lot when she'd stood up for them in the school parking lot a few weeks back. Once she was sure his feelings for Jay were genuine, she'd accepted him as part of the Beckel family. He could only hope their older brother Jerry felt the same when he came home for Linda's graduation in early June. He expected he would, going by what he'd heard of the man already, but maybe he'd changed while being part of the Coast Guard for the past two years?

"I don't get what she said as I left—something about the plan for Prom still going ahead—does that make any sense?"

"Far out, Benj, thanks for doing that…" Jay opened his book again. "Let's get back to work, you guys."

"Wait—what plan was she talking about?" Calvin asked before any of the others could.

Mikey pushed his glasses up higher on his nose and opened his own book. "Jay's right, we're wasting valuable study time." His grin to his boyfriend made it clear neither of them would share this particular plan out of sheer orneriness at finally knowing something their friends didn't.

"Y'all suck," Greg declared in his overdone Southern drawl.

"So what else is new," Denny asked sitting next to him, giving his redhead a kiss on the cheek. They all laughed, and then got back to their books so they'd be done before Rosalie called them to eat dinner.

Most people thought VW engines sounded a bit like sewing machines when they ran, and that was true for many on the road, but for the last few days, his hadn't. He'd finally got his Aunt's old Volkswagen bus running and driven it for a few days…then the fuckin' muffler had gotten a hole in it. To top things off, one of the town's few cops had pulled him over to write him a ticket, but at least he'd been nice enough to only make it a warning when he said it had just gone wrong that day and he was on his way home so he could check it out to fix it himself. When he'd gotten the chance to look at it last Saturday morning, he'd found it would need replacing rather than just a patch, so his Aunt let him borrow her car to get a used part from the nearest junkyard that had some old VWs on hand.

That week hadn't been one of his best, being annoyed at having to ride the bus to school, which meant an extra half hour compared to his usual ten minutes when he could drive there on his own. He might have asked Calvin for a ride since he lived up in his direction, but he didn't feel quite comfortable enough with Jay and his friends yet to impose on them like that. Sure, they'd have said 'yes' right away, but he also knew the boys were all couples, and that gave him yet another reason for not asking—he was well aware of what the term 'third wheel' meant when you hung out with an established group, and he didn't need that reminder of the treatment his parents had given him for years, now that he was beginning to feel better about himself.

Saturday had been the turning point for his week and his mood when Bill had called his house to ask him to go to the drive-in that night, and his Aunt Mary had told him to invite him to dinner since Uncle Jack was going to grill steaks on his new barbecue now that the weather was warming up. The directions to his place weren't hard to follow—take Route 40 east to York Road and turn left, then go up a certain distance and turn right into the Sommers' driveway—the only problem was you couldn't see the house from the road because it was uphill like all the nearby houses, and entirely hidden by trees.

Kevin was both anxious and relieved when Bill's red Impala convertible pulled up close to the house only a few minutes past his expected arrival time. He led his friend into the kitchen of the split-level house and introduced him to his new family. "Bill Adams, this is my Aunt Mary and Jack Sommers," indicating the woman with bright red hair and her slightly taller brown-haired husband. Both were in their early 40s and smiled warmly, extending their hands in greeting.

"It's nice to meet you, Bill. Kevin's friends are always welcome here, so don't be a stranger," Jack spoke in a mellow tone as they shook hands. "I'll go start the grill so you boys can eat before the movie starts…I guess since you'll be driving, a nice cool beer is out."

He laughed as he went out the door, and Mary shook her head in mock despair. "Don't pay him any mind, he's always joking around like that. Thinks he's another Lenny Bruce.

"Kevin, why don't you show Bill your room, or maybe the basement den…?"

When the two got downstairs, Bill seemed surprised at the sight before him. Kevin had to admit it was pretty cool. The 'den' was a large room paneled in light pine, and the eastern wall was mostly taken up by large windows looking out onto a patio and lawn that ended at a line of trees like those that hid the front of the house from the road. A sofa and two armchairs sat in front of a television with bookshelves to either side, and a pool table took up some of the space in front of the windows. A door under the stairs led to a half-bath, and another next to that hid the furnace, water heater and extra storage space. One of the shelves held a stereo and turntable, and three or four more were filled with records, both LPs and 45s.

"Wow, this is a sweet room," Bill exclaimed. "Who's the big music fan?"

Kevin could feel himself blush, and judging by the expression on Bill's interested face, he noticed. "Ah…my aunt and uncle like to dance, so they have stuff going back for ages from Big Bands to the Beatles. My cousins don't pay any attention to music, but I like some of it—you know, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, the Stones…."

"Cool! Do you play any instruments? I can play drums, at least a little."

Kevin blushed again. "Well…sorta. Uncle Jack gave me his old guitar I found in the attic, and he's teaching me what he can remember in his spare time, so…."

"Hey, if we get good enough, we could form a band—just need a keyboardist and maybe a flute-player."

He shook his head, mortified at the thought. "You're fucking crazy, man. I'm not even close to being that good, and we'd need a singer—and I for sure can't sing at all."

Bill rubbed his chin in thought. "What about your frien—"

"Come on and get washed up," Mary called from upstairs. "Steaks have about another five minutes or so."

It took only a few minutes to make use of the half-bath and head out to the backyard and the mouth-watering aromas coming from the grill where Jack was doing one last flip to the sizzling meat Kevin knew he enjoyed tending. Mary motioned for them all to grab plates from the picnic table and wait in line for their main course. Thick-cut fries were on the table too, along with green beans and pitchers of Kool-Aid and iced tea.

The two boys sat on one long side of the wooden table opposite the twins, while Mary and Jack sat on chairs at the narrow ends. Bill stared at the twins who he'd never met before, and Kevin, stifling a chuckle, could tell he could see no differences in them. Both were a few inches shorter than he was, and maybe ten pounds lighter, their hair more brown than his, and cut shorter. Beyond complimenting their parents on the food, and saying 'hello' to Bill, they said little, exchanging glances and small gestures which seemed to be enough for them to understand each other.

The four boys helped Mary take the dishes into the kitchen while Jack got his tools out to clean the grill once it had cooled down. The twins were about to head up to their room when Mary asked Kevin what the name of the movie was they were going to see. "Something about a snake…or was it a cup?"

Bill helped her out with a grin. "Close…it's called Monty Python's Holy Grail. They're a comedy troupe from Britain, and it's supposed to be really funny."

"Didn't they have a show on PBS? Lots of skits and animation…?"

From the entrance to the hall came two voices, speaking alternately with only slight pauses in between. "…Not much of a cheese shop is it?...Finest in the district…Why…It's so clean…Well, it's certainly uncontaminated by cheese!"

"They just said 'come in and say there's trouble at mill', I didn't expect a bloody Spanish Inquisition!...Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition—in fact, those who do…Wait, I'll start over and come in again…"

"I wanted to be…a Lumberjack!"

"An argument is a series of statements connected to establish a proposition—it's more than the automatic gainsaying of the other's statement…No it isn't…Yes it is…No it isn't! I've had enough…I want to complain, I was having an argument—You want to complain? Look at these shoes, I've only had them three weeks and the heels are worn right through!"

Mary and the two boys stared at the twins, amazed at the amount of words they'd spoken at one time. Kevin hadn't heard them say so much in the months he'd been staying here, though their mother was more surprised at the British accents they'd used while delivering their lines. Identical grins appeared on their faces, and with one voice, they made one more statement before heading to their room.

"The show's called Monty Python's Flying Circus, and they also put out a record which has scenes from the movie you're going to see."

The three stood for a few seconds before Mary began loading the dishwasher, while Bill and Kevin just looked confused. "Did you two follow any of that?"

"Fu…heck no, but I was more shocked at their talking at all, and I've never seen the show they were quoting from, if that's what all that was about." Kevin had amended his words now that they had company in the house. He'd made some efforts to do that in the last month or two and the smile Mary gave him showed her appreciation, though she'd never insisted on him doing so.

"I'd have to check TV Guide to see if it's still on, but I think I have seen bits of an episode once or twice," Bill added. "I mainly picked it because the "Pink Panther" movie has Peter Sellers in it, and his humor is either too much like Jerry Lewis or it's too drawn out and boring."

"I haven't seen him in anything I can think of, but Jay and his friend Miles love Monty Python and quote them sometimes at lunch or while studying. I'll have to tell them about the movie so they can see it next time they go to "40 East"."

"Too bad we don't have a chance to see an episode or two of their show first to give us a clue about what goes on."

"From some of the things I've heard from the guys, it can be pretty good, or hard to figure out if it depends a lot on British references. Jokes are funny unless you have no idea what the situation is they're making fun of—I mean, seeing somebody poking fun at a snooty rich person works since we have them too, but their politics don't make sense to us over here, so jokes about that aren't really funny."

Bill scratched at his forehead, then shrugged. "I don't know, if this movie is really about the Holy Grail, won't that involve a lot of history?"

Kevin had to think about that for a minute or two before replying. "Maybe. It's more a religious thing than history though—didn't a lot of people in the Middle Ages go looking for it—something to do with the Last Supper according to the Catholics?" He frowned at having to dredge up memories of his hours spent at his parents' church, which had been against any sort of fun or anything not written in the Bible. "Anyway, Jay says their comedy uses a lot of puns and sight gags, so how bad can it be?"

"Do you want to go up and borrow that album your cousins mentioned? Maybe we'll have a better time if we listen to it first?"

"Nah, I think we'll just be even more confused doing that. Jokes have the best chance of being funny if they're new, and you can see the setup at the same time," Kevin said. "Besides, I feel sorta funny going into the twins' room too often."

"Huh? Why's that?"

"I'll tell you on the way…need to use the john first?"

"Nope, I'm cool. Grab your jacket in case it gets cold later on, mine's in the car."

Bill waited as Kevin grabbed a denim jacket from the hall closet, then followed him back into the kitchen where Jack was sharing a beer with Aunt Mary. He held his glass up. "Last chance—oh wait, you're still driving," he said with a laugh and a wide grin. "How you fixed for cash, guys?"

Both of them shook their heads and made sounds like they were fine, but Mary got up to grab her purse from the counter. "Kevin, I know you spent a lot on that muffler this morning, so you can't have a lot left from the money I gave you for it since it's for my old car." She handed him a ten dollar bill which he reluctantly put into his pocket.

Jack pulled his own wallet out and handed Bill the same in two fives. "I heard you say you got paid yesterday, but I'm sure that car out there sucks gas down like water. Use this for gas, or snacks at the show, or to pay to get in, I don't care which…but you're taking it."

"Thanks, Mr. Sommers…normally I'd be fine, but I had to put on new tires last pay day, so that cut into my savings more than I thought it would."

Jack nodded and began to pull out another five, but Bill held up his hand and refused to take any more. "My parents cover my insurance and I get free food at work, so I manage okay unless there's an emergency I wasn't planning on."

Kevin stopped at the door, stunned, when he heard Mary's last question.

"What time will you be home in the morning, Kevin?"

Bill was quicker on the draw, so he got the gist of the situation faster than his friend did. "I traded shifts with another guy to be off tonight, so I'm covering for him tomorrow. I get off at 4:00, or I can run him back out before I go in…"

Mary and Jack exchanged glances, then Jack shook his head.

"After you get off is fine…I remember staying up all night talking with friends whenever I could, so try to get at least a little sleep. Kevin's got his homework done, and knowing him, he's got the VW all set to go Monday morning for school."

Kevin had finally caught up on what was happening, and managed a nod and a satisfied smile. "I'm going in a little early so I can get her up on the lift to work on during class, and later if I need to."

"Told you so," Jack said with a clap on his nephew's back. He gave him a slight push toward the door and smiled as they headed for Bill's red convertible

"Drive safe," he called loudly with a wave, then added in an aside to his wife. "…and don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"Think they know?" Mary asked softly.

Jack pulled her to his side and gave her a gentle kiss before frowning.

"That they're falling for one another? I'm pretty sure Bill does, but my stupid brother has Kevin so screwed up I don't have a clue if he can see the signs, let alone spot them in himself. I hope there's a special place in Hell reserved for parents like my brother and his bitch of a wife!"

Mary shook her head in disgust, completely sympathetic with her husband's words.

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