Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part III

“I could not believe the total lack of tact the man had,” Nadine continued. “And that wasn’t the half of it. Before I could I remind him where my eyes were, he put his hand on my forearm and started stroking it with his thumb.”

This time I couldn’t stop myself. “Let me guess, that’s when he started telling you how pretty you were, and what a crime it was that you were sitting there all by  your lonesome. Am I right?”

Rolling her eyes, she nodded. “Then he suggested I join him and his friends at their table so we could all get to know each other better.”

“Did you tell him you were waiting for someone?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” she groaned and took another sip of her hot chocolate. It seemed to calm her down, at least a bit. For when she spoke again her voice was more controlled as she continued her story. “Of course, he didn’t believe me. Kept telling me not to be shy. But when I insisted someone was coming, he kept pressing me to come over to his table and we could all wait together for my ‘friend’ to show up. Otherwise, every Joe in the place would be pestering me for the rest of the night.”

“So what did you do?”

“I bit him,” she replied simply,

I stared at her in shock. “In front of an entire room full of strangers?” I cried in disbelief. “I thought you liked keeping a low profile on the whole vampyre bit!”

“Okay, I should have been more specific,” she corrected herself. “I didn’t lean over and bite him, my forearm did it for me.”

“Your forearm,” I repeated.

She nodded. “He hadn’t removed his hand from it and had actually started squeezing it while insisting that I go with him. So, I grew a mouth there and let him have it.”

I couldn’t help smiling. “Oh, I wish I could’ve been there to see that. What did he do?”

“Well he jumped back so hard, he fell off the stool and landed on the floor. I made sure I looked as startled as everyone else. A couple of his buddies came over and helped him up, while he started accusing me of having a taser or something. I was ready to play all ‘innocent’ but didn’t have to because one of them pointed out I still had a drink in my free hand and he’d had a hold of my other arm. That just pissed him off more and he shot me a dirty look then stomped back to their table. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of it. One of his friends began apologizing and taking over his friend’s seat. Naturally, HE offered to get me another drink and before long his hand wound up on my thigh.”

    thigh

“Really?” I said in mock surprise. “How long before your thigh decided to take a bite out of him?”

Nadine grimaced at the memory. “It didn’t. Much as I wanted to, but I decided to ask for his opinion of my perfume. Naturally he leaned in close and I let him breathe in some of my mist and changed his mind that way. As he got up to leave, I gave him an extra dose so he could take it back to the table so his friends could get a whiff. Which they did! And thus I was left alone until Michael showed up half an hour later.”

“Nicely done,” I told her approvingly.

She smiled but it quickly faded, and her expression became more thoughtful again. “Afterwards I didn’t think too much about it because by then we were hunting for the Cannibal and… well you already know how that went down.”

“Oh yeah,” I nodded and took another sip of my chocolate. It was the only way I could keep from shivering at the memories of what she’d told us all. I’d been surprised that she hadn’t asked Lisa or Marisa to leave the room, but I didn’t protest. They weren’t children by a long shot. Both of them were young women who needed to know the truth about what dangers might be lying in wait for them or one of their friends. The world could be cruel, but I at least felt a bit safer having them and Nadine in my life. But I also knew not everyone was as lucky as me, and I never let myself forget that fact.

Looking over at my companion I asked, “So what got you thinking about your experience in the bar again?”

Catcalling

“I’d gone over to the college where Brian works, to see what classes might be available next fall,” she began. “I know I could simply look them up online, but I really like that campus. And I don’t stick out too much like a sore thumb in the evenings. There are a lot of other people who are my ‘apparent’ age taking classes and I just enjoy a change of scenery once in a while. Anyway, while I was there, I spotted a couple of girls about Lisa’s age walking ahead of me. Coming the other way were some guys heading the other way who started hooting and whistling at them out of the blue. At first I thought they knew the girls, but apparently they didn’t because I saw how uncomfortable their smiles were as well as how fast their pace increased. And it got me thinking again about what had happened to me.”

“You know that kind of thing goes on all the time, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, but some of those guys were closer to my ‘apparent’ age,” she pointed out with a look of disgust on her face. “I mean, teenager boys doing that kind of stuff is bad enough. But these jerks were in their mid-twenties, I would’ve thought they’d know better by that age.”

Here she paused to shake her head, then continued. “That’s when I started wondering how often stuff like that went on. Did it happen to Lisa and Marisa, or any of their friends? If so, why did they never mention it?”

I was about to answer her, only she started talking again and I decided to sit back to see where this was all headed. Besides, if it came up later, I’d have time to look up the saying about fish, how they don’t know what water is. Women grow up with this. For girls like them, it may just seem like a nuisance. Me, I’d had to pay more attention to stuff like that. Figure out who was a threat, who was a sale. Worst in a way were the ones who were both.

 I told myself not to think about the past. Besides, this was all new to my friend, even if she could go back to being a he any minute. I wouldn’t wish the sense of being trapped on anyone, and I liked that Nadine was trying to walk a mile in our too-narrow heels. But that was only a dip of the toes in the water of a woman’s experience.

“And what about Isabella? She’s still very young but one day she’s going to start ‘blossoming’ and then what? She’s still trying to get used to how people act these days compared to what she was used to back in the 1860’s. That’s when I decided to start going around as Nadine again. I wanted to know firsthand what women have to deal with…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

A Brief Interruption…

At least I hope it will be a brief one. This is Allan and I wanted to let you all know there will be a very “Hopefully” pause in the story.  Health issues on the home front have slowed down our writing, specifically a very painful Flare-Up in my Fibromyalgia. This can last from a couple of days to even a couple of weeks. I’m doing what I can to make sure it doesn’t last that long.

    Your patience would be greatly appreciated for the delay in the next installment of the current story. I’ll do my best not to keep you all waiting too long.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Allan

Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part II

I escorted Nadine to the kitchen and got her settled into a chair at the table. Surprisingly, she barely uttered a word the whole time I made hot chocolate. Only after I put it down in front of her, did she finally look up.

hot+chocolate

“Thanks,” she smiled and inhaled the aroma deeply. Immediately, her shoulders relaxed along with the rest of her. After a few moments of silent bliss, she caught me grinning. “What?”

“Never underestimate the power of chocolate, Sweetie,” I told her and took a sip from my own cup. Damn I make good hot chocolate, even if I do say so myself.

That made her smile.

“So,” I began, “You said you were doing research. Come to any conclusions yet?”

A serious expression crossed my companions face as she gave it some serious thought. Then she took a deep breath, declared that men are misogynistic ass-hats and that she was never letting Isabella out of the manor ever again. Then she went back to drinking her hot chocolate.

I just stared at her for a few seconds before saying, “Number one: congratulations on coming to that conclusion. Number two: as far as never letting your sister out of his manor again, do yourself a favor and don’t even try. Because knowing that little girl the way I do, I can tell you right now it ain’t happening. And controlling, over-protective behavior can be the very thing that makes girls rebel and put themselves in danger.”

I expected Nadine to sigh, but instead she groaned and began gently head-desking the table.

“You must have had one hell of an evening tonight.”

“Not just tonight,” she corrected. “Ever since I dealt with the Cannibal Killer, I’ve been going out like this at least once or twice a week.”

My curiosity was piqued. “Why?”

“Because of some of the reactions I got when I went after that psycho,” she replied, tucking some of her long blonde locks behind one ear.

Leaning forward I gestured for her to continue.

“I never told you or the girls at the time, but I spent a whole day in that town looking like this. The idea at the time was to observe what kind of reactions I got from other people, hoping our killer might give himself away. Of course, he was already hiding in the park and never laid eyes on me till I pulled him off the girl he attacked. But that’s not to say I didn’t get a few reactions during my walk.”

“With looks like yours, I’m not surprised,” I remarked.

“Thanks,” she smiled, but I could see it only partly reached her eyes.

“How did it feel,” I asked after a moment.

“Kind of flattering at first, but also kind of uncomfortable on a sort of subconscious level,” she answered, shifting in her seat as she spoke. “I was so focused on my mission I never really gave the feelings any thought at the time. But when I got to the bar where I was to meet Michael, I started thinking about it.”

Bar scene

I didn’t say it aloud, but I already had a pretty good idea of what was coming. Sure enough, her next words proved me right.

“I barely sat down at the end of the bar when some guy suddenly appeared at my elbow leaning in and asking me what I was drinking,” she said with more than a touch of annoyance in her voice. “And before you say anything, no it was NOT the bartender. But the thing that bothered me the most was the fact that he was supposedly talking to me, but I could actually feel the vibration from his voice hitting me down here,” she added, pointing at her chest.

As tempted as I was to say “no surprise”, I kept quiet and listened as she continued.

“And let me tell you, he was like practically six feet tall,” Nadine continued. “And here I am like 5′ 4″ and he’s talking to my cleavage. I mean my God, if he was bent over any further, he could have passed for The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s better looking cousin.”

I leaned back in my chair nodding. I could tell already that this was just the beginning…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part I

       If anyone had told me two years ago I would one day be married, have a child, and be living in a big old mansion, I’d have told them to quit snorting the white powder. Of course, there’s no way they would’ve have known a man who’d fought in the Civil War, and was for all intent and purposes a vampire, would be partly responsible for all of this. It still seems like some weird dream, or like I stepped into the Twilight Zone, but it’s all real. And I’m truly happy about it.

     Not that things don’t get kind of bizarre on a semi-regular basis. Take tonight for example, my baby boy had been fussing and feeling poorly lately. So I took him to Dr. Jack a couple of days ago, who said it was an ear infection and gave me instructions and a prescription for it. Of course, this means I’ve been keeping odd hours at night to administer the medicines. Needless to say my he wasn’t happy when I woke him up to administer more medicine and it took me a good hour to get him back to sleep. Richard offered to take over for me, but I insisted. He even offered to keep me company  while I walked our boy back to sleep. He’s really turning into a great dad. And as much as I appreciated his offer, I sent him back to bed. He’d had a really long day already, plus sometimes a girl wants to deal with things on her own. My home life had been pretty messed up and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as my so-called parents. The moment I knew I was pregnant I swore to do a lot better than them, and I like to think I’ve been succeeding.

      Anyway, I’d just put my little boy down again and realized I was a bit hungry. Looking over at the clock on the night table I saw it was only 1:30 in the morning. Not too late for a snack, I thought and headed downstairs.

      I’d gotten halfway down the  staircase when I saw the front doors open and a young woman entered. In the dim lighting I couldn’t make out the features and thought it must be either Marisa or Lisa my two, much younger, best friends. Both of them are barely twenty but in spite of a decade difference between us we’re tight. They love hanging out with me and both of them are great with the baby. The two of them also have the hots for Nathan, the Civil War veteran/vampyre I mentioned earlier, who owns this big old mansion. He’s also one of the best friends/guardian angel any of us could ever ask for.

      I know Nathan gave both girls their own key, so naturally I thought it must be one of them. Upon seeing that our late night visitor had blonde hair, I figured it must be Marisa (Lisa’s a brunette). Then realizing what time it was I immediately started hurrying down the rest of the stairs thinking something bad must have happened.

     “Marisa?” I called out only to have our guest look up.  It wasn’t Marisa, instead it was someone I hadn’t expected to see again anytime soon. “Nathan… I mean Nadine?” I stammered for a second.

      Okay, now I’m going to take a step back for a moment and explain a few things. Like everyone else who knows about Nathan being a vampyre and keeps an e-journal, blog, or an e-diary, these entries I make are set to private. Only someone knows, or will one day know, about Nathan gets to read them. We do this because we want to keep our memories and experiences with him alive even when (God forbid) we can’t remember, or are no longer part of this world. Although in the former case I don’t think we’ll ever fall to dementia or Alzheimer’s because Nathan wouldn’t let that happen. He’s got abilities like you’ve never seen and although he can’t hold off death (except for maybe himself), he’s learned to use them in so many ways to help people. And  want these memories to be available for my son and his children so they know what a difference this man has made, not only my life but other peoples’ as well.

    One of Nathan’s more fascinating abilities is of course shape-shifting. But unlike what you see in the movies where a vampire simply turns into mist, or a bat, or some other animal, he’s taken this ability to a whole other level. He’ll alter parts of his body, like turning just his legs into individual puppy dogs to play with Lisa’s little brother, or alter his facial features to look like another person. However, even more impressive is his skill at changing his entire body  into that of a very attractive woman. Mind you, Lisa, Marisa and I had a hand in his learning how to do it convincingly. The three of us gave him some serious coaching just two months ago when he was helping hunt down a cannibalistic serial killer.

     The result was the creation of ‘Nadine’ the female persona he was wearing tonight. Upon seeing ‘she’ was back my first thought was, ‘Oh dear God, don’t tell me was there another maniac on the loose?’ It must’ve shown on my face, because he/she… dammit, I’m going to call Nadine a she for this entry, mainly because she didn’t change back to normal all the time I was with her.

      Anyway, Nadine smiled as if she’d read my thoughts and said, “It’s okay, Penny. I’m not on a case or anything like that. I’ve just been doing some… research of my own.”

     “Thank God,” I sighed and looked at her again. I have to admit, the girls and I had done a damn good job on teaching Nadine how not only how to look but act like a woman. Even as we were talking, the mannerisms and way she held herself was just right. Which puzzled me even more.

     Had ‘Nathan’ taken a liking to being a woman sometimes or was there something more going on here? She had just mentioned something about research, so I asked, “Trying to find out how the other half lives?”

       “In more ways than one,” Nadine sighed raising a tired hand to her head.

      I knew that tone and the gesture. I’d seen and done it myself more times than I’d like to count. Putting an arm around her shoulders I said, “Let’s go to the kitchen and I’ll make us something and you can tell me all about it.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part III

     I frowned at my grandfather saying, “Hey, my hair isn’t that long.”

     “No, but it looks like the last time it was cut someone took a weed-whacker to it,” he grunted and gestured at the seat. “So which of you mop-tops is going to be first?”

     “Mop-Top?” Darlene repeated, scrunching up her face in such a way it was clear she didn’t know whether to be amused or confused.

     Luckily Cheryl came to her rescue, “That was a popular way of describing men with long hair back in the 60’s. I think it started when the Beatles came here to the United States for the first time.” Here she paused and studied me for a moment and then added, “You just need to look at your father to get a good idea of how long their hair was back then.”

mop tops

     My offspring gave me an appraising stare and then shook her head. “They considered that long? Looks more he’s losing some…”

     “That’ll do,” I cut in giving her a look that once upon a time would strike terror into her heart. Now all it did was earn me a mischievous grin. Sigh… they grow up fast and much harder to intimidate these days.

     Meanwhile, Nathan had hopped into the barber’s chair, much to my grandfather’s satisfaction. Especially when Nathan started asking him about the NY Mets.

     “That bunch of bums!” granddad snarled, while tying the styling cape around Nathan’s neck, “Don’t get me started. And why are you bringing them up? This isn’t baseball season.”

     “My point exactly,” Nathan replied cheerfully, “If they play during the off season they might actually find someone they can beat. Maybe a girl’s softball team for instance.”

     Darlene immediately jumped in saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. We’d mop the floor with those losers, any day of the year.”

     “You tell ‘im,” granddad smiled and turned back to Nathan, “She gets that from my side of the family.”

     “And mine!” added my grandmother pointedly. Then she turned to Cheryl and said in a stage-whisper, “He’ll never admit it, but he always loved the fact that I wouldn’t put up with his nonsense.”

     “Like hell,” granddad shot back, “I married you because no one else was willing to try to straighten you out so you’d behave more like a lady.”

     “And how did that work out for you?” Nathan asked innocently.

     Granddad glared at him for a second then murmured something about, “Gimme time. I’m still working on it.”

     I was about to comment how he’d already been working on her for almost 70 years, when I noticed my son Joe picking up an old photo album off the table. “Be careful with that,” I told him, “That contains some priceless pictures in it.”

     Naturally he gave me a skeptical look. “Dad, you say that about all the albums at home and it’s just filled with pictures of us when we growing up.”

     Looking up into the mirror, granddad saw which book Joe was holding and said, “Memories of family will be more precious than you’ll ever know one day. But that’s not what’s in that book. Those are photos, most of them signed, by some of my favorite customers from over the years. Go ahead and take a peek, you might recognize one or two faces.”

     Obligingly, my son did as he was told and immediately his eyes widened at the first image he came across. “Cary Grant!” he cried.

Cary-Grant

      “You’re kidding?” his sister gasped and went over to see for herself.

     Meanwhile, Granddad got to work on Nathan and was saying, “Really nice fella. Great head of hair. Loved working on it and passing the time with him. How old was he when you first brought him to my shop?”

      Nathan had to think for a moment. “Let’s see, he was still pretty new in the vaudeville circuit when I met him. I’d say he was just eighteen at the time.”

     “That’s what I thought,” Granddad nodded, “Always stopped in for a shave or a haircut whenever he came to town too.”

     Meanwhile Darlene had turned the next page in the album and started frowning. “Who’s the funny-looking guy with the big nose? Was he famous too?”

      “Let me see,” Nana told her and went to take a peek. After a moment she smiled, “Oh, that’s Jimmy.”

     “Which one, Stewart or the other one?” asked Granddad looking up from his work.

      Nana shook her head at him, “Did Jimmy Stewart ever have a big nose?”

Jimmy_Durante2

    Suddenly, Nathan leapt out of the chair and swung around. His nose had grown considerably as he started talking fast in a raspy, jolly voice. “Who’s got a big nose? Madam I’ll have you know this schnozzola has given me the world’s most memorable profile. It even got me into Guiness just last year.”

     I quickly jumped in. “You’re in the Guiness Book of World Records?”
“Nah,” Nathan replied in the same voice, “Any chump can into that old waste of paper. Nah, it got me into the Guinness brewery and straight into one of their vats. And lemme tell ya, it weren’t full when I fell in, but it was plenty empty when I got out. Ha-cha-cha-cha.”

     My son Joe, who had been frowning as if in deep thought, suddenly spoke up. “I know that voice. That’s the guy who was the narrator from the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ cartoon.”

     “Hey, that’s right,” his sister agreed. “And the cartoon version of him did have a big nose just like that.”

    “Dat’s right kids, and lemme tell ya. They still didn’t do it justice,” Nathan continued in Mr. Durante’s voice. “Why just the other day I…”

     At that point, Granddad grabbed Nathan by the arm and made him sit back in the chair. Of course this didn’t stop the rush of jokes coming out of his client. In fact it wasn’t until he pulled out the hot towel and placed it over the comedian’s face that the dialogue became more muffled, but not completely silent.

    From then on, the rest of us continued going through the album marveling at the number of famous folks who Granddad had had the pleasure of working on over the years. Nathan helped supply some visuals to the proceedings, much to everyone’s amusement and delight.

    When Granddad finished with Nathan, Joe was more than willing to sit in the chair next and get his hair cut. Not that he really needed it, but by this time he was eager to hear more of namesake’s stories. In the meantime I sat back and waited my turn in the chair. It was great seeing my kids really connecting with their great-grandparents. Like Granddad said earlier, memories about family were priceless and at that moment, I was wishing I had my phone out taking pictures. But I didn’t, because Nathan had already grabbed it and was shooting away.

   I later found out, both he and Cheryl had videotaped some of the exchanges and nonsense that followed. It was a great visit, but what made me the happiest was on the way home both Darlene and Joe asked when we were going to visit again.

     We made a lot of memories tonight and all because of a simple haircut.

    – The End

*Stay tuned for an all new story next time. Until then… Happy Reading everybody!  

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part II

            Darlene rolled her eyes at her brother and sighed, “I don’t know why he’d need a haircut. Does it really matter?” Then before he could answer, I saw her expression change. “Actually, that is a pretty good question. Dad…?”

            Holding up my hands I said, “Don’t ask me, I’m just here for Nana’s cookies and hot chocolate.” I wasn’t about to admit that I’d never really thought about it myself.

            Just then Nathan, who was not three feet away, turned to my grandmother saying, “You know I could’ve sworn I’d walked in with a bunch of people, was I just imagining things? Or did I suddenly turn invisible?”

            I watched her pat his arm and say, “No, you’re just getting to that age when everyone thinks you’ve gone deaf or your mind has gone wandering and you aren’t paying attention. I get that a lot.”

            “Not from me!” I called out loudly.

            Nathan looked around, “Did you hear something?”

            “Aw it’s just this old house creaking, or my joints, one or the other,” Nana told him.

            “Must be the house,” he assured her. “I told your dad when he was building it to use hickory but as he pointed out it was more expensive and harder to get here in Connecticut.”

            Nana laughed as she led us down the hallway.

barberspole

            There was an old barber pole on the wall, next to the door that led downstairs.

            My grandfather had been the town’s barber for over sixty-five years, before he finally ‘retired’. The shop was still in business but being run by one of my cousins who specialized in not only classic haircutting, but the more modern ‘faded’ style as well. I myself spent a lot of time in grand-dad’s shop when I was a boy and people often thought I’d follow in his footsteps. In reality, I was studying how he interacted with his customers since he always had a way with them. I learned an awful lot about putting people at ease and drawing them out from watching him, which has been a great asset to my medical practice.

            I slipped past Nathan as we reached the door to offered Nana my arm which she accepted, then we all headed downstairs.

            “Here we go through ‘Dr Who’s Tardis’ again,” I heard my son Joe murmuring behind me, only to be shushed by his sister saying, “Oh, shut up, I like that show.”

            “That’s just because you think the current one is cute,” he shot back.

            Glancing over my shoulder I saw Darlene make a face, “Ew… I’ll take David Tennant over him any day of the week. I mostly like the companions, especially Amy…”

            At that point Nana chimed in with, “I still prefer Tom Baker myself.”

            That earned several groans from the rest of us, although deep down I had to admit she had a point. He was a master of comic timing and seriousness when it came to the role of the Doctor. I would’ve said more but we’d just reached the bottom of the stairs and my grandfather’s ‘shop’.

            Even though my dad, Nathan, and I helped set the place up for him, I always found myself transported back to my childhood every time I came down here.

the-bookcase-and-barber

           One wall of the room was dominated by a large mirror, with shelving covered by numerous barber implements, stood before two chairs that had come from the shop itself. There was also a small flatscreen television staring down from above the mirror. In short, there were also other chairs and tables around the room, but to all intent and purposes, the place was a mini-barber shop. This had been my grandmother’s idea after a number of former clients kept pestering her husband for haircuts because he was the only one who knew how they liked their hair done. Plus, they missed having their regular bull sessions with him.

            But most of all, she knew my grandad missed keeping busy.

          My grandfather was lounging in the older of the two chairs, when we came down. Getting out of one of the chair, where he’d been reading the paper, he stood up. “About time you got here Nathan, I was about to…” he began then spotted me and my family. “Oh good, lord you brought the entire crew with you. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me tonight.”

          TO BE CONTINUED…

        *Author’s Note: Sorry for the short entry. I was working on it this past weekend and had to go to get some routine lab work done (which took a couple of hours… groan). Plus family and a bad cold took more out of me.  Didn’t want to leave you all with nothing, so I figured a short entry was better than nothing, especially when I’m trying to do at least at two entries a month. To be concluded in two weeks… unless the story decides it wants to be longer.

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part I

Cheryl and I took our kids, Joe and Darlene, to visit my grandparents at their home this evening. They only live on the other side of town, but with the snow on the ground walking with two teenage grumbling the whole time would’ve tested the patience of saint. It never ceases to amaze me how after spending all day out in the cold with their friends, our children can be all set to head outside once more in spite of the dropping temperature as soon as they finish eating dinner. Their energy and enthusiasm seems limitless. At least, until we remind them they’re supposed to go somewhere with us.

In that moment, all life seems to suddenly evaporate from their bodies and they’re too tired to go anywhere. Or they’ve just remembered an important paper they need to do for school which requires them to stay home, and maybe have a friend or two over to assist them in their research. It is a condition that we in the medical profession have yet to fully analyze and come up with a name for it. I have on more than one occasion considered preparing a paper on this phenomenon for publication. However, the thought of spending hours trying get teenagers, who are NOT mine therefore I have no authority over them, to answer even the simplest of questions quickly cures me of such urges.

Well, after reminding them of how often they’d assured us that they were fully caught up on all their schoolwork, and that we’d discussed the visit several times earlier in the week, they finally went to fetch their coats. I swear it was like watching a the old television series, “The Six Million Dollar Man” or “The Bionic Woman”, where the heroes are filmed in slow motion when they’re supposed to be moving inhumanly fast. Only in my kids case they really were moving that slow, it took them almost a full fifteen minutes just to find their coats and another five to put them on.

Anyway, we finally got them out the door and on the road. We were just pulling up to my grandparents place, when we saw a familiar figure knocking on their front door. It was Nathan.

From the backseat I heard Joe say, “Since when does he know Great-Nana and Great Pop-Pop?”

“Um… I don’t know, maybe because he’s been watching over our family for generations like he told us back in September,” Darlene shot back, in a sweet-sarcastic tone only a sibling can deliver. A second later, she was out of the car dodging snowballs from her brother who’d raced after her.

All of this happened before I’d even killed the engine of the car, leaving me once more to ponder that paper about energy levels in teens. Perhaps I could just try an observational study? I turned to Cheryl who I noticed already her seatbelt unbuckled but hadn’t even opened the door on her side. “Is something wrong?” I asked her.

Turning she gave me a look of disbelief. “I’m not going out into the middle of those two having a snowball fight.”

A second later, a rogue snowball struck the window, followed by a muffled, “Sorry Mom,” from our son Joe. His aim has never been great when it comes to throwing, which is why he’s never made it onto the school baseball team. Darlene on the other hand has a wicked throwing arm from two seasons on the softball team. Which she proceeded to demonstrate by nailing her brother while he was a distracted.

Joe quickly retaliated with a rare well-aimed shot at his sister, who barely managed to dodge the attack unlike my grandmother who had just come out onto the steps to greet all of us.

Thank God Nathan was right there. He could’ve easily just caught the snowball, but it would’ve exploded in his hand, showering Nana in the process and he knew it. So he good-naturedly stepped in front of her and took the hit, which almost knocked the long stocking cap off his head. I saw him say something to my grandmother and then he turned on my offspring yelling in his Groucho Marx  voice, “Of course you realize, this means war!”

However, before he could reach down to grab some snow, Nana tapped him on the shoulder and said something to him. Of course I couldn’t hear from inside the car, but I saw him straighten up and give a dramatic sigh indicating hostilities would remain on hold.

At that point, Cheryl finally opened her car door and stepped out. I quickly followed and joined her and our children who were already greeting their great-grandmother.

Nathan was standing respectfully to the side and I joined him.

“Nice kids you got there, Jack,” he remarked, still in his Groucho voice. Taking off his hat and shaking the snow from it, he continued, “Attacking bystanders like that. What’s this world coming to? Don’t answer, I’ll tell you what it’s coming to…”

I was thankfully spared the rest of his performance by Nana’s voice calling out, “Nathan! Joseph’s expecting you downstairs in his ‘shop’. You know he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. And it looks like he may have some other customers who need haircuts as well.” That last remark was aimed at my son, my grandfather’s namesake. Then I noticed she was eyeing me as well.

“I think we’re expected,” Nathan observed in his own voice, and I nodded.

As we followed my grandmother inside, I heard my son saying to his sister, “Wait a minute. With all the things he can do with his body, why does Uncle Nathan need a haircut?”

TO BE CONTINUED…