Teddy had graduated to the point where sometimes he still called me Mommy but most of the time now it was Mom. He and Barry burst into the kitchen and there was anger on their small faces. When he got angry he still tended to use Mommy, as he did this time. “Mommy, a couple of bigger kids have hijacked our treehouse.”
No wonder they were angry, it had taken them over three weeks of working after school and on weekends and countless hammered fingers and thumbs to build that treehouse. I stopped what I was doing and looked down into their angry faces. I asked, “What do you want to do? Do you want Robby to help you?”
They shook their heads, “No!” said Teddy with finality. “They're bigger'n us but they're only nine, so people might think Robby was being a bully if he helped. We want to know if we can use squirt guns as offensive weapons. Ethan and Jarrod Wilkins, said they'd lend us theirs.”
I considered his question seriously. I had banned squirt guns when they hosed down the minister and his wife, even though it had been an accident. It had been a decision I'd made when I was angry and I'd regretted it ever since. After all, what is a childhood without squirt guns, especially here in the deep south, where it's hot all year round.
I said to them, “If I decide to lift the ban on squirt guns, will you make sure you don't hose down any adults with them?”
They both nodded vigorously, but then Teddy cleared his throat. “All 'cept Len. He said if we ever got permission to get squirt guns, he was fair game as long as he knew about it in 'vance and wasn't all dressed up.”
I asked, “I also assume Robby's on that list?” Both Teddy and Barry looked at me as if I'd asked a dumb question and I guess I had. Of course, Robby was on the squirtable list. He was a kid. I said with amusement, “You two realize of course, that both Len and Robby are very good at what they do. You might surprise them once, but it's unlikely you'll surprise them twice.”
Teddy nodded, saying, “We know, we'll get squirted but we can squirt right back. That's why we figured on squirt guns. The kids, who took our tree house, can get them too. After we have a few battles, we'll prob'ly become friends.” That jolted me a little, as I looked into Teddy's clear blue eyes, that was more the type of answer I would have expected from Robby than from Teddy.
“Do you know if they're werewolves as well?” I asked.
Teddy shrugged his shoulders, saying, “Dunno. But being from here I wouldn't be s'prised.”
I told them, “You'd better have Robby find out. If they are, they might keep watch in wolf form and you wouldn't know about it. The first time, you really want to surprise them.” and they nodded.
“Okay, I'll get Grace and we'll head for the toy store.” I didn't have to tell them that we were going for one thing and one thing only. Unlike most kids, most werewolf kids didn't need a lot of toys. Give them a football or a soccer ball and they were happy. Of course, that was because they spent much of the time actually wrestling rather than playing ball.
Erin Peters, one of Len's younger sisters, checked us out. She said, “I see you've finally relented on the squirt guns. But why four?”
I said with a grin, “A couple of kids hijacked their treehouse and they wanted to fight back in a way that wouldn't be dangerous. As for the other two, do you think Robby or Len would want to be left defenceless?” Knowing her brother, she just giggled, as she gave me my change.
I picked up the squirt gun box marked with my name on an orange Post It note and handed the other box to Len. “It appears we're being warned, Len.” I told him.
Len was reading the front of the box and he just grinned down at me.
Barry hopped down from the stairs where he had been standing. He said, “We don't 'tend to do it now. We're at war with the kids who stole our treehouse. Mommy said you should see if they're werewolves before we 'tack, so we'll know what to 'spect.”
I looked at my watch. It was only four-thirty so they might still be there. Closing my eyes, I reached out. Yup, they were still there. Brent and Trevor Davis. I opened my eyes and grinned at Len, saying, “Your nephews have declared war against my brothers, Leonard Peters. Can't you control your kin better than that?”
From in back of me Teddy said, “Len's nephews. You're not on their side are you Len?” he asked warily.
Len held up his hand, saying with a grin, “Please, keep me out of this. This is between you pre-teens. I only get involved when you attack me.” holding up the squirt gun box.
I told Teddy, “They moved into the Sanger place down the road on Wednesday. You haven't seen them until now because they're going to be finishing the school year in Cormier and start at Benson in the fall. They're feeling a little bored right now and they might be a little careless, so now might be a good time for your first attack.”
Teddy eyes lit up and he headed for the kitchen, with Barry right behind him. I heard the fridge door open and I giggled. Len asked, “What's so funny?”
I said with humor in my voice, “Teddy put a pitcher of water into the fridge and that's what they're going to use to fill the squirt guns for the first attack. It probably hasn't had time to get much cooler than what they'd just get out of the tap, but we won't tell them that.”
We'd built the treehouse in 'mong lots of other trees, so it'd really be hidden, even though it had been much harder. Robby had helped a little with the hardest parts and he said it wasn't in a very defensible position. There were so many trees and bushes close to it that it was easy to sneak up on. At the time, we hadn't cared, but that made it great for an ambush.
We were really close. They weren't 'xpecting us so they weren't watching very careful. We heard a shrill whistle. One of them said, “Mom's whistling, we've got to go.”
Once they were on the ground, I said to Barry, “Now!!” with a lot of excitement. We popped up and began to hose them down. They twirled around and their eyes were wide with surprise. Within a few seconds, they were wringing wet.
One of them yelled, “Retreat.” and he found it hard to say through his giggles. They beat a hasty retreat, but the way they were giggling Barry and I knew they'd be back as soon as they got squirt guns.
Teddy and Barry were almost bouncing in their seats as they described the first attack. I asked, with interest, “Well do you think it's permanent or do you think it's just temporary?”
Barry said, “Oh, it was just temp'rary. They was giggling as they runned.”
“Yeah!” said Teddy. “They'll be back as soon as they find squirt guns.”
I said to them, “Why don't you two guys just wear shorts and sandals tomorrow. Are either of you wearing underwear.” They both shook their heads no, which is what I expected, they usually skipped underpants on the weekends. I nodded and told them, “Well you don't need them and it'll be one less item of clothing that has to dry. Since they'll be on the attack, you're the ones who'll get soaked first, unless you can ambush them.”
Teddy and Barry decided it wouldn't be fair to wait in the treehouse, where their enemies couldn't get at them. Also, it could take hours for the various battles if they used the treehouse as a refuge. They were sitting at the base of the tree, trying to listen for the twins arrival. But the twins were better than they were, at least at this early stage of the war.
suddenly appeared and began soaking them down. Barry and Teddy got a
few squirts back at the twins, before they had to beat a hasty retreat,
under overwhelming firepower. The twins were also stripped down to just
shorts and sandals.
On the next attack, Teddy used Barry as a decoy. The younger boy circled behind the twins and then shook a branch. The twins, who had been standing watch, were keyed up and turned that way. While they had their backs turned, Teddy attacked soaking them and getting away before they could turn and soak him in turn. Barry made the mistake of trying to squirt them and instead got soaked and retreated giggling.
The next time Teddy and Barry attacked, it was with determination and the twins had to retreat, when their squirt guns ran dry. Trevor, the blond one of the fraternal twins, yelled, “We've got to go home for more ammunition! We'll be back in a few minutes!”
Teddy yelled back, “We brought a pail on a wheelbarrow, you can fill up from that if you want!” The twins looked at each other with feelings of respect for the younger boy's forethought. “We brought a cooler too, with sandwiches and pop. We're getting hungry, you can join us if you want! We brought enough for four!.” Teddy yelled with humor in his voice.
“Okay,” yelled Brent, the red haired twin, “let's have a truce!”
Fifteen seconds later Teddy pushed the rubber tired wheelbarrow into the little clearing at the base of the treehouse. He distributed the sandwiches and the Coke's and in a few minutes the boys' were sitting with legs crossed eating amiably. Trevor after finishing half of a sandwich, before he started the second half asked Teddy, “What's it like having an Elder for a brother?”
Teddy chewed, for a few minutes thinking, then he answered honestly, “Barry and I, don't really see that part of him much. That's more somethin' that concerns the adults. Barry and I just find it scary.”
“Scary. How?” asked Brent.
“Scary, because we know a lot of what he does is dangerous. Whenever he goes away, there's always the possibility that he might not come back.” Teddy said, his blue eyes clouded and then clearing as he asked, “What about you, do you have any older brothers and sisters?”
“Both,” said Trevor, “Cindy's seventeen and she's great, but our brother, he just turned thirteen and he's an assh… Whoops.” he covered his mouth and giggled.
Brent said, “You better be careful, Trev. You know what Mom said the last time.” He explained to Teddy and Barry. “If there's one thing that annoys Mom, it's kids swearing around adults. Trev got caught a couple of weeks ago and Mom said if she caught him again, she'd hang him from the yardarm.” He admitted, “We're not really sure what that means, but Mom uses it to indicate that she'll punish us. It's usually grounding or loss of privileges, but sometimes it's a spanking.”
He stated, “It is true though, Randall is what Trev started to call him. He's really bossy and he gives orders because he's bigger'n us. He just turned thirteen and he's big for his age and knows that even if we ganged up on him we wouldn't have a chance against him.”
Teddy said, “Robby's never bossy. He tells us to do things at times, but it's never just because he can, there's always a good reason.”
Barry disagreed, “He can be bossy when he's babysitting us.”
“But that's different, Barry.” protested Teddy. “He's in charge of us then, he's not acting as our brother, but as a rep-re-sen-ta-tive of Mom and Paul.” Getting the large word out in separate syllables. “Anytime, with other babysitters, even Rose, they're always bossier.
Trevor and Teddy finished their Cokes and then stood up. Trevor looking at the treehouse said, “We've got some old plywood sheets and some old boards, that the Sanger's left that dad wants to get rid of. He said we could have it if we could find a use for it. With those we could almost triple the size, because the tree is certainly big enough.”
They heard giggles coming from behind them and turning they saw that Brent and Barry were involved in a vigorous wrestling match. Trevor remembering a cartoon character from the Bugs Bunny show, said, “Shall we?”
Teddy knowing instantly who he was imitating, said, “Oh yes, lets do.” and moving much faster than Trevor expected, He bent down and catching the older boy behind the ankles jerked his legs out from under him. Teddy jumped on top of him as he hit the soft somewhat muddy ground, which their squirt guns had left right around the base of the treehouse.
The wrestling match between Barry and Brent lasted much longer than Brent expected. Barry being the littlest, in the regular crowd that gathered at the Hansen-Wilson house, never fought anyone his own size. They were all bigger than he was. Small but vigorous he was hard to hold down and it took a few minutes for Brent to get him into a position where he had to submit.
At that point, the other wrestling match caught their attention and they got up to watch. Despite the fact that Teddy was somewhat smaller, it very quickly became obvious that the two boys were evenly matched. First one would be on top and then the other.
After about five minutes, it was becoming obvious to both Brent and Barry that it could go on all day, without a winner. Barry told Brent, “When me and Teddy put the pail on the wheelbarrow, we was dumb.” he said sheepishly. “Robby and Blue was sittin' on the porch steps just watchin' us. I guess that's what Teddy meant about him not being bossy. He lets us make our own mistakes. He just said before he went inside, 'See if you can figure out how that could have been much easier.' We musta stood there for five minutes, before Teddy hit himself on the forehead. He told me, 'We shoulda put the pail on first, then filled it.'“
Barry grinned, saying, “Mebbe so, but if we hadda, I wouldn't know that Teddy and I was able to lift it without much trouble. You're bigger and stronger.” and he nodded his head at Trevor and Teddy. Brent caught on at once and his small face lit up with glee. Putting the cover of the pail carefully aside, they lifted the pail out, though not without a bit of a struggle and moving closer to the other boys. Taking hold of the pail at the top and the bottom and swinging it back, they swung forward and dumped the entire contents of the pail on the two boys, ending the wrestling match abruptly.
and Barry put the pail on the ground and shook hands in satisfaction
of a dunking well done. Then they took off as their respective brothers
lunged to their feet and began chasing them. When things finally settled
down, Barry and Brent who were somewhat fresher, circled around and
ended up in the treehouse. Teddy and Trevor collapsed at the base of
it, shaking with laughter.
“Hey, Brent.” Trevor said, after he had stopped laughing and regained his breath.
“Yeah, Trev?” Brent said, sitting in the doorway of the treehouse, bare legs dangling over the edge.
Trevor told him, “I was just telling Teddy, that we have those pieces of plywood and boards at home, that dad want's to get rid. If we use those we can triple the size of the treehouse.”
Brent nodded, saying, “Yeah, let's. But what about nails, you know what dad said, after the last time, we used all his nails without asking him and they're not going to be home until after supper. We could ask Cindy for a loan, but she charges too much interest.”
“We could ask Robby.” Barry volunteered, “He saves most of his allowance for gifts. He likes ice cream, but Mommy buys that with the groceries and he doesn't eat much candy. He'll prob'ly help us carry the stuff over as well.”
Trevor said practically, “Brent and I have hammers and saws of our own, but it's more important to get the nails. Do you think he'd go down to the hardware store, while we carry the wood over?”
Teddy said, “Barry, with the pail and cooler empty, you can manage the wheelbarrow without much trouble. Why don't you ask Robby, 'bout the nails? Remember Rose's babies are due within the next week and he'll want to give a gift, so he won't have a lot of money to spare right now.
Hary and Robby were sitting on the back steps when Barry came trotting into the yard with the wheelbarrow. He said to Robby, “You was right 'bout the pail, but you were wrong too.”
Robby lifted his eyebrows, petting Blue who was lying on his lap. “How was I wrong?” he asked.
Barry said cheerfully, “Well if Teddy and me, hadn't lifted the pail in, I wouldn't of known that when Trevor and Teddy were wrestlin' and not getting nowhere, that Brent and I could lift the pail out of the wheelbarrow and dunk them.”
Hary giggled, but Robby just smiled, though the lights in his green eyes were dancing. He said, “You've learned that even if there is a right way to do something, sometimes doing it the wrong way teaches you just as much or more.” When Barry looked puzzled, Robby echoed his mother by giggling, then said, “Don't worry about it, Barry. Just take it from me that you learned something. Have you left Teddy to fight the war alone?”
Barry shook his head, saying, “No, Trevor and Brent said that their father has some wood he wants to get rid of, so them and Teddy went to get it, to 'xpand the treehouse, but we need nails. Brent said Cindy charges too much interest, so we wanna know if we can borrow it from you? What's interest?” asked Barry, a puzzled look on his face.
Robby told him, “It's something that you shouldn't have to worry about for a few years. I'll explain it then if you haven't learned it in school by that time.” and Barry accepted that it obviously wasn't something he needed to know about right now and his face cleared.
Robby instructed, “You go upstairs and get your backpack, Barry. They usually put nails in paper bags, but since it's for you, then you get to carry it. I've got ten dollars in my wallet. That should buy a couple of pounds. If you need more than that you'll have to borrow from Mommy, the rest of my money is earmarked for Rose and the twins and Teddy's birthday next month.”
Barry went inside and headed for the stairs and their bedroom. Hary remarked. “Teddy commented on the fact that if they had a few battles they'd probably become friends. I guess he was right.”
Robby said softly, “Get used to it Mom, his aura is starting to show signs that he's probably going to end up as an Elder. He's at the usual age when it starts to show up. It'll be the more normal age of twenty or so though, so you don't have to start worrying right away.”
“You leave us alone Randall, Dad said we could use the wood.” a young voice said loudly.
“Tough, what if I want it. I'm bigger than you, what are you going to do about it.”
Robby and Barry came around the corner then. Trevor and Brent were standing with their hands clenched while Teddy was off to the side. A larger boy, from the resemblance obviously their older brother, was standing between them and the wood they had apparently gotten out from under the back porch. The porch was almost as big as the one the Hansen-Wilson house sported.
He was big for a thirteen-year-old werewolf, probably five three and a hundred and fifteen pounds. Robby said in a soft voice, “Leave them alone. Just because you're their brother, doesn't mean you can bully them.”
turned, starting to say, “Mind your own...” and his voice just trailed
off as he was caught by Robby's large green eyes. They were very steady
and a little angry and very disconcerting. Randall was unable to face
that gaze. He kicked the ground and whirling around, he headed for the
Robby had helped them bring the wood over and then had left them to it. Trevor said to Teddy, “Man, your brother can be scary. Does he always speak that soft?”
nodded, explaining, “Unless we're playing he almost never yells. Most
of the time he speaks softly. Some people make the mistake, thinking
that because he's speaking so softly he's afraid of them. With Robby,
the angrier he gets, the softer he talks.
The Davis boys were much better carpenters than Teddy and Barry, with them doing most of the work and Teddy and Barry helping. When Charlie and Peter, the Ronson twins, showed up early on Sunday, even though they weren't any better than Teddy and Barry, it still gave them additional boy power. With the six boys working they finished late on Sunday afternoon.
Teddy ran home and brought back a big bottle of ginger ale and some plastic glasses. After they used a half glass to inaugurate the treehouse, they drank the rest of the pop. They would spend many enjoyable days and some exciting nights this summer in the treehouse.
Teddy was not in the mood to be awakened at four-thirty AM on Monday morning, or any day for that matter. He usually got up at about seven-thirty on school days and in his considered opinion that was much too early as well. He definitely wasn't a morning person. Barry who had woken up easily as he usually did, had slipped off his short pajama bottoms which was all he was wearing. He was watching Robby as he prepared to use drastic measures to wake Teddy up. The drastic measures might not be necessary but Robby was also a practical joker. Give him a chance like this and he wasn't going to just let it pass by.
Taking the large bath towel, which he had taken from the bathroom, he folded it up and slipped it under Teddy's head and bare shoulders, then taking the half full glass of ice water that he had gotten from the fridge. With Barry giggling behind him, he poured it over Teddy's head.
While Teddy might not be a morning person, the cold water brought him awake instantly, mad as a hornet, knowing that his brother had just played a practical joke on him. He would have launched himself at Robby even from the top bunk, but standing on a chair, his brother was holding him down. Curled up on his side, as he was, he was in an awkward position and wasn't able to do much moving. Robby grinned at him, telling him, “If you want to see Rose's twins before school, you'll have to get up early. This was a little more drastic than Mom had in mind, but I simply couldn't resist the temptation.”
The anger left Teddy's face instantly. He would forgive his brother even this rude awakening for such an important reason. Forgive, but certainly not forget. “When were they born?” he asked, eagerly, sitting up and taking the partly damp bath towel to dry his face and hair.
explained, “Norm called Mom last night at eleven o'clock to tell her
that Rose had gone into labor. Mom and Paul drove over to the hospital
and the babies were born around three o'clock. They just got home and
Mom woke me up, before she and Paul flaked out for a few hours sleep,
since Paul has to go to work. With exams starting next week, we can't
miss school right now either, so we're going to have to go right now.
Len's going to drive us.”
“How are they, Robby?” Rose asked anxiously. Since Norm, even though he was her cousin, was only part werewolf, there was no guarantee that the children would be full werewolves. Robby as a Healer was the only one who could tell before they were actually old enough to change in two and a half or three years, whether they were or not.
Robby said softly, “Full werewolves, Rose. Perfect auras, they don't even have the little blip that many werewolf babies have that causes them to fuss so much, so they should be fairly content.” With a big smile on his face. “Have you named them yet?”
Rose smiled complacently, “We wouldn't have had them except for you, Robert Richard Hansen, so their names are Roberta and Richard.”
She giggled when she saw the stunned look on Robby's face. She knew it was very typical of Robby. Even though he had made the children's birth possible, he would never even have considered that they would be named after him.
recovering somewhat from what he considered a great honor, he gave her
two envelopes, a smile lighting up his face. He said, “They're not
very imaginative gifts, but it's a start on their education fund. I'll
buy them stuffed toys when they start having birthdays. Come on munchkins,”
he said to Teddy and Barry, “it's almost seven o'clock, we have to
get home to get ready for school. See you later, Rose.”
After the boy's and Len left. Rose said softly, “Thank you, Robby, for such a wonderful gift.” referring to the birth of children, not the fifty dollar savings bond, that Robby had given to each of the babies.