The Apprentice

by Sahypo

Chapter 49

Pat and Lizabeth arrived around 1 pm Friday afternoon, to a warm greeting from Isaac, Timmy and Sean. Isaac and Sean had just barely gotten home from school. Isaac was now officially "done" at Technical College, and Sean had spent the slowest month of his life it seemed in three hours that morning at school. The boys ran out to the car to get Pat and Lizabeth's things, and brought them into Timmy's room.

"I thought you guys were planning to arrive later?" Isaac wondered, as he hugged them both.

"We canceled some things we had going on today so we could get an earlier start." Lizabeth said, catching hold of Timmy and giving him a big hug.

"Mmmm, Missed you, kid. How are you?" she asked.

"Doing great, Mom, how are you and Dad?" Timmy replied.

"We're fine, honey, no worries. Sean, come here!" she said, letting go of Timmy and squeezing Sean in a quick hug.

"You two ready for your big trips?"

"Yes, ma'am" the boys answered almost in unison.

They spent the rest of the day talking and catching up, then went to Dennis and Debbie's for grilled steaks that evening. The next day, Pat and Lizabeth took Timmy and Sean to the Natural History Museum at the state capitol, then went for a tour of the capitol building and the rotunda. By the time they got home that evening, they were all looking forward to doing nothing on Sunday.

Sunday was a lazy day, everyone slept in late. They spent a few hours in the pool, but later in the evening, Peter's parents had invited everyone over for dinner. Pat and Paul paired up for conversation and drinks in the living room, while Jeanette and Lizabeth held court in the kitchen. Timmy, Peter and Isaac entertained themselves in the back yard with a frisbee and a game of Monopoly later when they got bored and went inside.

Timmy spent Monday over at the Kane's with his brothers. He played with them in the pool and in the yard most of the day, and walked home around four in the afternoon to do some laundry and pack. Sean wandered over around five thirty, and the boys made sandwiches. Sean had already packed and unpacked several times until he had given up and quit worrying about what he was taking with him. Timmy loaded his bags into Pat's car that evening, then he and Sean decided to swim for a bit until it got dark, then the boys went to Sean's for the night, since Pat and Lizabeth had Timmy's bed.

Timmy didn't sleep much, as he was anticipating the trip to Schollenberg and seeing Gene and Glen again. Sean snored steadily beside him, and soon sheer fatigue took over and Timmy drifted off.

The early morning sun woke Sean and Timmy and Timmy got out of Sean's bed and went back to his house as Sean got up and took a shower.

Timmy walked in the house through the sliding door and walked down the hall to Isaac's room and closed the door behind him. He found Isaac just waking up, and got into the shower.

Isaac joined him and they stood in the spray.

"This will be our last morning ritual for a while, I guess." Timmy said.

"I guess that's true." Isaac replied.

They worked shampoo into their hair and took turns rinsing.

"Oh, I almost forgot to tell you…I'm going to see a Deputy Sheriff tomorrow about a job tip Detective Walsh turned me on to."

"You're gonna be a cop?" Timmy asked, surprised.

"No, it's a technician position working on helicopters."

"No kidding, that's cool." Timmy exclaimed.

"Yeah….HEY! Are you peeing on my feet?" Isaac shrieked as Timmy burst out laughing.

"Dance! Pilgrim!" Isaac said, breaking into a grin, and returning the favor as Timmy giggled and tried to evade Isaac's stream of urine.

After a few minutes, Timmy said

"I hope you get that job, Isaac. That would be awesome."

"Yeah, wish me luck."

"Sure. But I don't think you'll need luck, Isaac."

"Thanks, Wise Owl. I hope you're right."

They finished their shower and Timmy put his shorts on and left Isaac's room. Pat and Lizabeth were up and drinking coffee at the table as Timmy greeted them and went back to his room to get dressed. They were in the middle of breakfast when a knock on the front door announced Dennis's arrival. Timmy got up and opened the door, and hugged Dennis as he came in.

"Hi, Dad. Did you have your breakfast yet?"

"Hey, Timmy. Yup, I'm good."

Timmy went back to the table to finish and Dennis greeted Pat and Lizabeth and Isaac, just as Sean came in the back door.

Dennis ruffled Sean's hair in greeting and asked

"So, are you going to ride with us, Sean?"

"Um, probably not, Sir. I'm gonna be on a bus for many hours the day after tomorrow."

"Well, we have room if you change your mind."


Timmy was quietly picking off a bowl of Cheerios, and looked up.

"I'm going to miss your graduation, Isaac."

"I am going to record it on videotape, honey." Lizabeth replied. "You'll be able to see it when you get back."

Timmy nodded and smiled.

"Good… Thanks, Mom!" he replied.

Ten minutes later, breakfast was done, and Timmy hugged Elizabeth, and then Sean

"Guess I will see you guys when I get back." Timmy said.

"You got everything, honey?" Lizabeth asked.

"All packed and in the car last night." Timmy replied.

"You have a good time up there, Timmy." She said, giving her adopted son one last squeeze.

"Yes, ma'am, and that goes for you too, Dork!" Timmy said, looking at Sean. The boys hugged for a long moment.

With that, Isaac and Timmy got into the back seat of Pat's car, and Dennis took the front seat next to Pat.

"Dennis, do we have all the papers?" Pat asked. Dennis checked the file folder and replied "Yup, it's all here." as Pat put the transmission into reverse and backed onto the street. Sean and Lizabeth watched the car go up the street and turn out of view before going back into the house.

The ride was fairly quiet, and Timmy fell asleep as the fatigue caught up with him. Isaac and Pat and Dennis talked about various things as he and Pat caught up on things.

Two and a half hours went by before they reached the outskirts of town, and turned off the highway onto the county road to the museum. Dennis called Glen and let them know they were almost there, and Isaac woke Timmy up. Although it was a Tuesday morning during summer vacation, there were quite a few cars and a school bus in the parking lot.

They walked into the museum entrance and gift shop, and Dennis approached a woman behind the counter.

"Good morning, ma'am. We're here to see Glen."

"Yes! You called a few minutes ago, Mister Kane?"

"Yes, Dennis, and this is Pat, Isaac and Timmy."

"It's good to meet all y'alls…Glen is giving a tour to a church group, but he'll be with you in a bit. I'm Martha. My daughter and I handle the gift shop, tour booking and the accounting for the museum. Megan!" she yelled over her shoulder into a doorway behind the counter.

"Yeah" came a yelled reply, and a teenaged girl about sixteen years old stepped out of the back office.

"Meg, this is our newest crew member, Timmy. He's spending part of the summer with Gene and Glen in the shop. This here is Dennis, Pat, and Isaac?"

"Yes, ma'am." Isaac replied.

"Good! I got that right, then." Martha said, pleased with herself.

Very petite, with long brown hair and brown eyes, Megan reminded Timmy of a pixie. She smiled and said "Pleasure to meet you all!"

Timmy smiled and offered his hand.

"It's good to meet you both." Timmy said.

"Welcome aboard, Timmy." Megan replied, shaking his hand. "Should I go get Glen?" she asked, addressing her mother.

"Um, naw, that church group will be back in ten minutes." Martha replied.

"Timmy, you could get your things out of the car while we wait for Glen and bring them in the office, I guess. There is a door around the side to the right."

"Yes, ma'am." Timmy replied, and began walking out of the gift shop. Isaac followed him and asked

"How much is there?"

"That big suitcase of yours, and the small one." Timmy replied.

Isaac opened the door and pressed the trunk release, and Timmy raised the lid and pulled the small case out of the trunk and set it on the ground.

"I'll get the big one if you get that." Timmy said, lifting the large suitcase out and closing the trunk. The brothers carried the luggage over to the back door of the office and placed the bags inside, then closed the door and went back to the public entrance.

Megan was ringing up customers and Glen had just come in from leading the bus tour from a local elementary school. He greeted and Isaac and Timmy, and was introduced to Dennis and Pat.

Pat gave Glen the medical release, power of attorney, and notarized letters with Pat and Lizabeth's signatures.

"Timmy says that you are a machinist?"

"I'm the head programmer at Western Fab." Dennis replied.

Glen looked at Dennis, confused. "So, ….you're Timmy's father?"

"Yes" Dennis replied, grinning.

"But …Pat and Lizabeth Daniels are on these forms?" Glen asked

Dennis and Pat looked at each other and smiled. "Correct." Pat replied. "Dennis is Timmy's biological father. My wife and I adopted Timmy before he and Dennis met."

Timmy squeezed in between Pat and Dennis and giggled as he hooked an arm around each man's neck.

"It's different, but it works!" he joked.

Glen smiled and nodded. "It is for a lot of folks…If it works, you can't argue with that."

Murmurs of agreement were unanimous.

"So, it would be okay to get a hold of Dennis if I wasn't able to reach Pat or Lizabeth?"

"Yes, that would work, too." Pat said, and Dennis nodded in agreement.

"Let's go out to the shop and I'll show you guys around." Glen said, closing the folder and putting it on the desk in the office. He led the group through the back door out into the main shop, and closed the door behind them. He gave them a tour of the shop facility where Timmy would be working, and showed them some contract parts that he and Gene had been making to fill an order for another excursion railroad in Idaho.

Glen was a busy man, and was always mentally multitasking. His secret weapon was Gene, who executed a lot of the tasks that Gene put before him without fail, and was pretty good at bringing in new business by his own efforts. Timmy would be working for the teenager this summer. Glen realized that he put a lot on Gene's plate, and Timmy would be great help with easing some of that burden.

"Timmy, you will be working with Gene mostly on the contracts. You'll be on the train some when it runs, and you'll have to learn to run tours for Martha. You'll work hard, but it's fun and pays well."

"Really, like how much?"

"Nothing, but you get to sweat, get dirty, make things and run the train." Glen replied with a grin.

Timmy blushed, embarrassed at being had.

"And I saw that one coming, too!" he crowed, causing everyone to laugh.

"So, where's Gene?" Isaac asked.

"Buried in a shallow grave just outside the door." Glen deadpanned. Timmy snorted and began to giggle.

"Not biting on that one?"

Timmy shook his head.

"He's out shopping for consumables, you know, chemicals, sealants, gasket paper, stuff we can't live without around here. He also orders the metal for the contracts we get."

"Sounds like Gene is a key employee." Dennis observed.

"For a seventeen-year-old kid, he does pretty good. I'm really proud of him." Glen said.

Turning to Timmy, he walked the boy over to an old wooden cabinet with several small doors on its front. A label had been applied to one of the doors with "Timmy" printed on it.

"This one is yours. You can use it to store your safety gear when you aren't working. Take a look."

Timmy opened the door, and found ear muffs, safety glasses, gloves and a blacksmith's apron inside. Under the apron, Timmy found a pair of sturdy, steel-toed work boots like Glen had on.

"Try the boots on, Timmy. See how they fit ya." Glen said. "You'll be in those from now on."

Timmy took the boots out of the cabinet and found a place to sit to take his sneakers off. He was surprised to find that the work boots were actually quite comfortable once he got his feet inside. He put his shoes in the cabinet and followed the group out of the shop to get his first look at the rest of the museum property and exhibits. There were several other steam locomotives on static display that they looked at and Timmy wondered

"Will these engines ever be restored too?"

"If there was money and volunteer interest in the job, it's possible."

"Glen, what if the boiler was completely rusted out, like nothing was usable?" Dennis asked.

"We would have a new one made just like the old one. It would be tested and certified from the get go…again it always comes down to money."

Glen took them over to 765, and let Timmy and Isaac tell Pat and Dennis about their ride on the locomotive a few weeks ago. After Glen had showed them the entire museum, it was time for Pat, Dennis and Isaac to head back to the city. They hugged Timmy and wished him a good time, and Timmy walked them to the car and waited while they got in.

Gene had arrived back at the shop while the group was out walking the exhibits, and came up next to Timmy as he watched his family drive off.

"Hey, glad you're here, good to see you again, Timmy!" Gene said, slapping Timmy on the back while offering his hand.

"You too, Gene." Timmy replied, shaking the teen's hand.

"How was the drive up?"

"Long…I slept the whole way."

"Ready to get to work?"


Timmy followed Gene into the shop, and over to the rear roll-up door, where Glen's pickup truck was backed in. In the bed of the truck were five large wooden boxes, strapped to a pallet.

"We got us treasure, here." Gene said, cutting the banding holding the boxes to the pallet. He pulled one of the boxes to the tailgate of the truck and motioned for Timmy to lift one end. They carried the box over to a huge metal work table in the center of the shop and set the box on it. Gene pried it open, and it appeared to be filled with compressed straw. Gene dug around in the straw and pulled a very old, very large brass pressure gauge out of the box.

"Whoa!" Timmy exclaimed. "Is that as old as I think it is?"

"Oh, no doubt. Eighty, maybe a hundred years, yeah." Gene replied. "We bought all this stuff on an internet auction."

Gene continued to remove more gauges of various sizes and types from the box, then made sure there was nothing else in the straw. He put the box down under the table.

"We'll save these crates to ship our contract work back to the customers."

Timmy helped Gene move the next box to the table, and this one contained small antique cast iron gate and globe valves, of the same vintage as the gauges.

"Timmy, I want you to sort all these valves into piles by size and type. We bought these for parts, so you'll be stripping them so we can inspect the pieces. I'll show you how to do it, and if you can't break something loose, just set it aside. Don't try to reef on anything as hard as you can. If the wrench slips, you'll get hurt, so it ain't worth it."

Gene went over to the cabinet and took out a box of rubber gloves. He took a pair and pulled them on, and tossed the box to Timmy. Timmy gloved up.

"Always think about where your knuckles are going to be if the wrench slips."

Timmy nodded and watched as Gene chucked the valve in the vise bolted to the table, and took the nut and handle off the stem. He set the pieces aside, and put a wrench on the cap and unscrewed it and tugged it off the stem. He then put the handle back on the stem and tried to turn the stem out of the body of the valve. It was frozen from being stored closed for who knows how long.

Gene took the valve out of the vise and laid it on the table. He went to retrieve tools, and Timmy picked the valve up and looked it over. Gene came back with a hammer and piece of steel rod. He handed Timmy a pair of safety glasses, then put his own on.

"See how the gate is stuck?"

Timmy nodded, then slipped on the safety glasses.

"Sometimes if you try to loosen the stem and smack the gate on the both sides with a hammer it will break loose. Let's try some lizard piss on it first."

"Lizard piss?" Timmy wondered. "Is that another inside joke thing or something?"

Gene chuckled and handed Timmy a can of penetrating oil. "I've never smelled lizard piss, but this stuff has to be damn close. Spray it here and here, and we'll smite it with the hammer." Timmy sprayed the oil on the valve where Gene indicated, and agreed that the name made sense, given the smell.

Gene motioned for Timmy to hold the valve flat on the table, put the rod in the valve and held it against the gate. He gave the rod a moderately sharp blow, and removed the rod. Timmy turned the valve over, and Gene smacked the gate again from the other side. He put the valve in the vise and this time, the stem turned with a lot of effort.

"We can set this one aside and let the oil work for a while. See how stuck the rest of those are, and sort the parts into piles. Questions?"

"No, but I'm sure I will later." Timmy replied. Gene went to the truck to get the boxes of supplies out of the cab, while Timmy began sorting the box of valves. This lot was all the same design and type, in three sizes.

Timmy found almost all of the valves responded to the penetrating oil. He quickly got into a rhythm, and did not notice that Gene had finished putting the consumables away, and was off somewhere. He noticed a movement at the roll-up vehicle door, but kept working until he felt that he was being watched.

Timmy looked over to the door and saw a child about ten years old, slowly approach him past Glen's truck.

At first, he thought the child might be a girl, from the long dark hair that covered the ears. Whoever this was wore very thick glasses, making the brown eyes look huge. The kid was dressed in shorts, sneakers with no socks, and a tee shirt that had a pocket sewed into the middle of the front. There was something flat and about as thick as half a deck of cards in the pocket, and Timmy could see from the clothing that his observer was a boy.

The stranger stopped about six feet from the table, and waited for Timmy to acknowledge him. Timmy said

"Hey, what's up? I'm Timmy." He held out a hand, which the boy ignored.

"Er, okay…What's your name?"

He noticed that the boy didn't look at his eyes when Timmy spoke to him, but watched his mouth intently.

The boy pulled a small spiral bound note pad out of the pocket on his shirt, and flipped a few pages until he found the one that he wanted. He showed it to Timmy, pointing to a word printed neatly in block letters.


Timmy noticed that the pages were filled with all sorts of words that Henry might use during a typical day, like




Thank You


Good bye

May I have water, Please?

Henry looked at Timmy, and then back at the pile of valves and gauges on the table.

"You can come closer if you want, Henry." The eyes flashed to Timmy's lips, and Timmy realized that the boy probably missed what he said. He stood up and grabbed a stool from the other work station across the shop. He brought it over to the table and put it down, and motioned for Henry to sit. The boy was hesitant, but sat on the stool, and watched as Timmy resumed what he was doing. Timmy slowed down a bit, so as to let Henry see what he was doing, and made sure Henry was looking at him when he began to speak.

Henry didn't indicate much in his facial expressions, and Timmy wasn't sure that the boy understood what he tried to communicate to him.

"So, you like trains?" Timmy asked.

Henry nodded and smiled. He pulled a laminated card out of the pocket and showed it to Timmy. It said



Henry Moore

On the background was a sketch of locomotive 765, and the museum logo.

Timmy looked the card over, and said

"Wow, that's pretty cool, Henry. I just work here."

The boy grinned, exposing several missing teeth in his smile. He shook his head to toss the hair out of his eyes, and Timmy glimpsed some sort of device built into the temples of his glasses. Henry looked intently at the parts on the table and reached to pick up a handle.

Timmy pulled a pair of gloves out of the box and shook them at Henry to get his attention.

"These will keep your hands clean…Don't want Mom mad at you for getting dirty."

Henry watched Timmy speak, and held his hand out palm down and waited.

Timmy had expected Henry to take the gloves and put them on, but maybe Henry had never worn gloves before, or didn't know how to put one on.

Timmy held the glove open and Henry slowly put his fingers inside, fumbling around to find the right space for each finger. They repeated this for the other hand, and Henry smiled, wiggling his fingers. His hands were small inside the adult sized gloves. He began to arrange the handles in a row on the table, and counted the parts. Timmy watched, wondering what the boy was doing.

Henry then arranged the nuts that held the handles on the stems into another row, next to the handles. Next were the caps, then the stems, arranged in their own neat rows. Henry's lips moved as he counted the parts, but he made no sound. The gates and bodies were the next parts to be arranged, but Timmy still had the valve body he was working on clamped in the vise. This messed up the symmetry of Henry's rows, and the child sighed, and looked at Timmy with an annoyed expression on his face.

"I'm sorry, Henry! I'll be done in a second!" Timmy chuckled as he hurried to unscrew the stem. Henry smiled as Timmy took the valve body out of the vise and let Henry arrange it on the table.

Timmy heard the office door open behind them, and Martha telling someone

"Henry's missing, I'll check the shop." She must have been talking to Megan, Timmy thought.

"Oh, he's out here, with me." Timmy replied. Henry never looked up from what he was doing, not having heard anything.

Martha walked into the shop, a look of relief on her face.

"Oh, Good. Is he bothering you, Timmy?"

"Oh, no, not at all. He's just watching…and sorting."

Martha walked up to the table and stood where Henry could see her, and she squatted down and watched him move the pieces on the table.

"We have to be very watchful of our little VIP. Henry is visually impaired and almost totally deaf, plus he likes to explore and hide. He can't hear us calling for him, so it usually takes some time to find him."

Henry looked up, and sensed that Martha was talking about him. He smiled and giggled, and Martha turned to him and stuck her tongue out at him. Henry cackled in delight and stuck his tongue out in retaliation.

"I won't let anything happen to him, ma'am." Timmy promised.

"Just bring him to the gift shop if he gets in the way."

"Yes, Ma'am." Timmy replied.

Martha turned to walk away and Henry stood up from the stool and took a fighter's stance and growled at her. It sounded strange to Timmy, this uttering from a child who lived in a soundless world.

Martha stopped and turned and put up her fists and crept back to Henry, crouching low and guarding her face and sides like a heavyweight boxer. Timmy watched and laughed as Martha easily evaded the boy's play punches and began to attack him with tickles, as all resistance and offense from Henry stopped. He had a huge grin on his face as he began to guard his neck and ribs and screeched with laughter. Martha worked him over until his face was red and he put his hands up and yielded. The gloves fell off and lay on the floor.

Martha winked at Timmy and said

"I'm just glad I can still wear him out pretty quick. I'm an old lady, you know!"

She had Henry in a bear hug from behind, and shook him as he squealed and giggled. She let him go and he turned to look at her.

"You pay attention to Timmy, understand?" She said silently, and made hand motions. "Pick those up, too."

Henry nodded and picked up the rubber gloves and turned back to the stool and sat. A voice called into the shop from the office door as Martha walked toward it.

"Did y'alls find him?"

"Uh-huh…He's fine, Alice." The rest of the conversation was cut off by the closing door. Timmy took the last valve apart, and let Henry arrange its innards on the table, just as Gene came back in the shop.

"I see you're in a meeting with the Chairman of the Board!" Gene said, as he twirled his finger in Henry's hair, causing the child to jump up and snap his head around to see who was behind him. He grinned and backhanded Gene playfully in the belly, causing Gene to jump back and chuckle.

"Whoa, there, Mister feisty-pants!"

Henry pointed at Gene and giggled, before turning back to the parts on the table.

Addressing Timmy, he asked

"So, how did the valves come apart?"

"Good, I didn't have any other stuck ones. I'm not sure what I'm lookin' at, but I think all the parts are okay."

"Wow, we actually got stuff we can use this time. That's rare."

Gene went over the parts himself, while Henry watched closely. He decided that all the valves were usable once they were repacked, and showed Timmy how to put new packing in the valves. The material was messy, being made with graphite and Timmy was glad he had the latex gloves on.

Soon, it was getting close to closing time and Martha came back out to the shop to retrieve Henry. Henry waved and took his note pad out and flashed "Bye" and "Thank You" to Timmy. He took another poke at Gene, but the teenager was faster and managed to ruffle the boy's hair while dodging his swipes. Henry giggled and grinned as Gene pointed at him.

"Too slow!" Gene teased. He held a fist out for Henry to bump and mouthed. "See you next time" while making hand motions. Henry nodded and waved as he left.

"He wasn't a pest, was he?" Gene asked.

"No, he was pretty cool…He got a little annoyed when I wasn't going fast enough."

"Sounds about right. Dad and I have always been a bit afraid to have him in the shop."


"In case he got hurt or something … We can't watch him all the time."

"Oh…should I not have let him in here?"

Gene waved his hand dismissively.

"Nah, it's cool. You did the best thing, keeping him busy, you know."

"Um, does he always go back and forth with Martha like that?" Timmy wondered.

Gene laughed

"You mean the boxing."


"That started when Henry was about five and they've been at it ever since. He does that when he wants people to play and wrestle with him. He'll challenge you too, when he knows you better."

"He sure likes you and Martha."

"No, Timmy, that kid loves Martha … Weird thing is, she doesn't let him get by with anything, and she's his favorite."

"So, he must come here a lot?"

"Henry lives just out of town with his foster parents, Alice and David. They had Henry since he was like three, I guess. His real mom walked away when he was born brain damaged…something about the cord cutting off his oxygen … anyway, he comes here just about every weekend and a lot during the summer.

We kinda adopted him, and Martha lets them in free."

"Does he go to school?"

"Yeah, he's in, um, sixth grade, I think. He's ten or eleven. Hey, let's get out of here and get you moved in and we'll scrounge up something to eat."

That sounded good to Timmy, and he shed the gloves and helped Gene close the shop and turn off the lights. They retrieved Timmy's luggage from the office and put in the bed of Glen's four-wheel drive pickup. They climbed in and took off down the county road and fifteen minutes later pulled into a gravel farm road with a cattle crossing. The house was set back on the large property in a grove of trees, and Gene drove the truck under a carport that had room for eight vehicles. Two other pickups, a car and a tractor were parked under the structure.

"Let me show you around." Gene said as he climbed out and closed the door. Timmy got out of the truck and looked around at the brick exterior of the house. They got Timmy's gear out of the truck and Gene opened the door.

"Come on in."

Timmy stepped into a large anteroom with a tiled floor, a large shower, laundry machines and a shop sink. There were cabinets on the walls, and shelves over the laundry machines.

"This is where we get cleaned up after work if we're filthy. Those cabinets are full of linen and towels and stuff. The soap and cleaning supplies and stuff like that are out here."

They went through another door and entered the house proper. It took Timmy's breath away. They stood in a living room almost forty feet square, with a sectional seating system in one corner, a pool table in the other, a huge TV and a wall made into a library. Three separate sliding glass doors opened out onto a kidney shaped pool set into a jungle at the back of the house.

"Oh, my God!" Timmy whispered. "Wow…"

"This way" Gene said, leading Timmy's suitcase down a hallway off the far side of the living room. Gene opened a door and went inside. The bedroom was as big as the living room in Isaac's house, with a king size bed. Two sliding glass doors opened onto the pool deck. To the left were two doors. Gene opened the first one, to show Timmy an ultra-modern bathroom with a huge shower with glass walls, a large storage cabinet and a big mirror. There was another door on the far side.

"This is our bathroom. My room is through that door. Put your stuff on the bed. You can use this closet."

Gene opened the other door and led Timmy into a large walk in closet with clothing shelves and organizers on the walls.

Timmy set his bag down, and followed Gene through the bathroom into his room. It had the same layout as the room he was using, except it was a mirror image. The pool deck was visible through two sliders just like the other bedroom.

Timmy stared in awe at the walls in Gene's room. Instead of sports cars and supermodels, his walls were covered with photographs of locomotives and railroad scenes.

"Wow, Gene…how many pictures do you have?"

"Um, almost three hundred on the walls, maybe a quarter of my whole collection."

"Is 765 in here?" Timmy wondered.

"See if you can find it." Gene suggested. Just then the phone rang. Gene picked up an extension on his desk and answered.

"Oh, hi."

"Yeah, we just got here. Timmy's getting moved in."

Gene looked over at Timmy.

"You like Chinese?"

Timmy nodded.

"He says yes."


"Dad's bringing home Chinese from Min's. Do you have a swim suit?"

"I have shorts … is that okay?"

"Sure. I don't wear a swimsuit in the pool either." Gene chuckled. "Change into your shorts and we'll cool off until Dad gets here in half an hour."

Timmy went back to "his" room and closed the bathroom door behind him. He lugged his suitcases onto the bed and unzipped the flaps and began by finding his toothbrush and speed-stick. He set those aside and began to undress while he searched for the shorts he wanted. Down to his briefs, he debated a moment whether to leave them on or off, and off won out. They slid down his legs just as Gene emerged from his room next door onto the pool deck. Timmy held the suitcase lid in front of himself in case Gene decided to look back into Timmy's room, but he continued to look at the pool as Timmy slipped the shorts on. Gene was fit and muscular and white as a ghost except where his tee shirts didn't cover.

Gene was standing in the middle of the pool when Timmy came out on the pool deck. He stopped and stared at the water when something moved and caught his eye.

"Uh, Gene? There's a snake in the pool behind you."

"I know."

"Shouldn't we like, get it out or something before it drowns?"

"Nah, he'll get himself out when he wants. He lives in the landscaping."

Gene was completely unconcerned by the presence of the small reptile, so Timmy stepped into the pool and began to go down the steps. The garter snake raised its head and darted over the edge of the pool onto the concrete deck and disappeared into the foliage. After the boys watched the snake leave, Gene turned to Timmy and said

"I'm really glad you're here, Timmy. We're going to have some long hot days this summer. Are you up for that?"

Timmy nodded.

"I'm here for all of it, Gene."

"Well, we won't work ya to death, and I won't ask you to do anything I can't or won't do myself."

"It's really cool you guys are letting me do this, thanks."

Timmy waded past Gene into deeper water, and Gene saw the marks on Timmy's back for the first time.

"This is really a cool place, Gene."

The backyard and pool deck area were designed to look like a tropical island paradise, and Timmy marveled at the size of the house and the fact that most of the back side was glass. Glen and Gene had built the place, with the main objective being room and privacy from the outside. The jungle surrounded the pool on three sides, and completely cut off the rear of the house from the rest of the grounds.

"Thanks. The place is yours, too. Make yourself comfortable. When we get out, I'll show you the rest of it."

Just then, Glen slid a door open and stepped out onto the deck with a large bag. He set it on the patio table and began removing take out boxes from the bag.

"Well, how did your first day go so far?"

"Good, Sir." Timmy replied, stepping out of the pool, followed by Gene.

"Timmy met Henry, Dad."

"So I heard…Martha said you put him to work. She was impressed."

"Oh…uh, really?"

"Mmm Hmm."

Timmy nodded and smiled. "I just let him watch me is all."

Glen handed each boy a paper plate.

"Well, it might be time to let him in the shop sometimes when we can keep an eye on him. If he can follow the rules so he doesn't get hurt." Glen observed.

"He would probably like that a lot." Timmy said, and Gene nodded in agreement.

"There's four main dishes here, with rice and noodles. Dig in, Timmy. Did you get settled in yet?"

"Um, just about, thanks." Timmy replied.

"Let us know if you need anything at all."

"Yes, Sir. I will."

"Timmy was officially welcomed to the house by the sea serpent before you came home, Dad." Gene joked.

"Ah! The stuff legends are made of." Glen retorted, and the boys giggled.

They ate sitting in their wet shorts, and when they finished, Glen put the empty containers back in the bag and went back into the house. Gene stood and said that he was going to shower and that he would continue the tour when he finished. He walked over to the door to his room and slid his wet shorts off on the deck, his back turned to Timmy. He went inside.

Timmy shrugged and left his wet shorts outside the door as well. He went inside, and heard the bathroom door open a few inches. Gene tossed a towel into the room and Timmy could hear the shower start. Timmy was almost dry, but his middle was wet from the shorts and he dried himself before he began unpacking and organizing his things in the closet and dresser. The shower stopped after a few minutes and Gene knocked on the bathroom door.

"Shower's all yours, Timmy." Gene yelled. Timmy went in and took a quick shower, eager to see the rest of the house as Gene promised. He was done in a matter of minutes, and threw on a dry pair of shorts and tee shirt. He met Gene in the living room, and Gene led him into a huge kitchen, with a table that had eight chairs around it, an island with a six-burner range and full-size sink. On one wall was a double oven, and a huge Sub-Zero refrigerator. There was a wine chiller with a glass door under the counter, and a large pantry covered with bi-fold doors. The kitchen could have held three cars had it been the garage.

Gene gave Timmy a tour of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen so he could help himself, and Timmy noticed that Glen and Gene didn't have a lot of clutter and things in the house, but everything was top shelf and high quality. Just about all the cookware and utensils were restaurant grade stainless, with no serrated edges or plastic handles to be seen.

"Dad hates crap that doesn't last. You only buy the good stuff once. Buying cheap shit over and over gets expensive after a while, so it doesn't save anything not to go with the best. You'll learn that when it comes to tools, too." Gene said.

They spent an uneventful evening watching a movie on the TV, then it was time for bed. The next few days were spent testing the gauges from the crates with a compressed air source, showing Timmy some basic lathe skills, and helping Gene crate up some parts for shipment. Gene took Timmy into town to the freight terminal he and Glen use for shipments, and introduced Timmy to few of his friends that worked there.

Henry came back about a week later, but it was Alice who wanted to talk to Timmy. She came out to the shop with Martha, who made the introduction. Graying and in her mid to late fifties, Alice was trim and looked like a person who had always been active, and not afraid of work.

"Timmy, I want you to meet Alice, she's Henry's momma."

"Oh, hi, it's a pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise, Timmy. I wanted to thank you for letting Henry watch you in the shop last week. It meant a lot to him to be included."

Timmy blushed and nodded.

"I wanted to ask if you would consider doing my husband and I a huge favor. We will pay you, of course…"

"Um, if I can, what is it?"

"We have been invited to our niece's college piano recital this coming Saturday. It's about eight hours drive from here, and Henry would rather to stay here."

"So, you need a babysitter…"

"Er, not really …Henry is very responsible and level-headed when he isn't goofing around and getting lost, but if something would happen, we feel better knowing that someone who can see and hear normally is with him. Also, we've never left on a trip without him before, but he insisted that he wasn't worried about us going. We talked to Henry and he would like it very much if you would stay with him while we are gone."

"Me, really… he said that?" Timmy asked, surprised.

"Yes, he asked me to ask you. No pressure, of course." Alice deadpanned, and the three of them laughed.

"Um, I have to clear that with Gene and Glen. They might have work for me …"

"Alice asked them first, already. You're free this weekend, Timmy." Martha replied.

"I guess I can't say no to that." Timmy replied. "I'm in."

"Thank you so much, Timmy. Can you come over Friday evening after work here? Even if we already ate supper, I'll save something for you. We like to be up and ready to hit the road at four in the morning. We'll be back Sunday afternoon, if that's okay with you."

"Yes, ma'am…I'll be there."

"This means a lot to him, Timmy. He'll be thrilled." Alice said with a smile as she and Martha went back to the office.

Henry was out on the grounds with Glen, watching him replace some rotten boards on a boxcar, and handing Glen nails. Glen let Henry measure the old wood with a tape measure, and mark the new wood before Glen cut it. Henry got the hang of it pretty quickly, and did his best despite his poor vision. Once the boards were on, Glen opened a can of primer and showed Henry how to stir it. Several times he tested it and found there were still lumps in the bottom, and Henry stirred the primer for another few minutes. He watched closely as Glen showed him how to wet the brush in the primer, then brush it on the new wood. He handed Henry the brush and the boy grinned at Glen, who was making imaginary brush strokes as Henry got the hang of it. They let the wood suck up the primer for about ten minutes, then Glen made hand gestures for "one more time" as he mouthed the words to Henry.

Henry nodded and picked up the brush and began to put more primer on. When he finished, Glen put the lid on the can and gathered the tools on to the yard rig, which was a garden tractor and a trailer he and Gene made back when Gene was younger than Henry. Henry hopped up and sat on the boards and waited for Glen to start the machine and begin the trip back to the shop.

Things had changed. Henry had always been relegated to watching from the sidelines, since he was thought of mainly as a museum guest, but Glen figured that as long as Henry was willing to learn and wanted to be included that he may as well put him to work. Alice agreed with Glen, and said

"We can always back off if he complains, I guess, but it can't hurt him, that's for sure."

Timmy was learning how to turn brass bushings on the old South Bend lathe with Gene. Bushings were used throughout the locomotive, replaceable parts of moving joints that were designed to wear out in preference to more expensive or difficult to replace parts. Gene had shown Timmy how to chuck the bar stock in the machine and indicate the runout and adjust the chuck until it ran true. They had begun to bore the hole through the middle of the stock when Glen and Henry arrived back at the shop.

Gene stopped the lathe as Henry made a bee-line for Timmy and stood, impatiently waiting for Timmy to tell him his decision.

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