“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
The volume at which Frank exclaimed this startled his sons. After the initial shock, however, they looked at him and smiled as one continued to color in the other’s face with red and black permanent marker. This reaction to his shouting only confused Frank further.
“Pretty cool, right?” his oldest son remarked as he consulted the Darth Maul head shot on the iPad and continued to detail his younger brother’s face. “We haven’t figured out what to use for the horns yet, though.”
It wasn’t until the horns were mentioned that Frank noticed his youngest son’s head had been shaved bald. The clippers lie on the floor next to clumps of hair.
“Oh my God,” Frank said using both hands to grab a hold of his own hair as if he were also in danger of losing it to the clippers.
He could not believe his eyes as his boys continued happily in his presence. Frank advanced on them, furious and snatched the red marker from his son’s hand saying, “Give me that,” then adding, “Go upstairs to your rooms.”
“How come,” they wondered.
“Are you kidding me?” he bellowed. “I don’t know why you thought this was a good idea, but you are both in so much trouble I can hardly think of what I’m going to do to you.”
“You said we could,” both boys protested. Frank had already grabbed an arm on each of them and was leading them up the stairs.
“I most certainly did not,” he scolded them. As he reached the upstairs hallway, he released his grip only to banish each of the boys to his own cell. “Give me your DS! Both of you! Sit quietly and think about what you’ve done while I…”
Suddenly Frank realized someone else should have kept the boys from doing this while he slept. “Where is your mother?”
“She went shopping,” the younger boy yelled through the already closed door of his bedroom.
“Shopping for what?” wondered out loud.
“How should I know,” came the younger voice again.
Frank stormed down the stairs, cursing to himself beneath his breath. The combination of having just woke up from several hours of sleep and nearly pulling his hair out in reaction to his recent discovery of his sons’ busy day of activities left his hair standing in every direction on his head. As a result, when the doorbell unexpectedly rang as he walked past, he flung it open and looked like a madman to his brother and his family waiting on the porch.
“Ahhhh!” screamed his niece and she buried her face in her mother’s shoulder. His slightly older nephew laughed. Frank stared at them all in confusion.
“Hi, Greg. Molly. Kids. Is everything okay?”
Frank’s brother, Greg stood wide-eyed. “Um, you tell me, Frank. You all right?”
“What? Yeah. I’m fine,” Frank stammered in reply. “What are you guys doing here?”
“You told us to come over.”
“I did? I must have forgotten. Did we plan this?”
“No. When I called you earlier to tell you about my promotion, you told us to come by and that you’d grill us all hot dogs to celebrate.”
Frank looked around outside, half of him assessing the weather and the other half making sure he had not recently moved to Crazy Town. “It’s twenty degrees outside,” he remarked and opened the door wide for them to step in out of the cold, “and I don’t remember talking to you today.”
“I thought it was a little odd myself,” Greg admitted and set a paper bag down on the table, “but when I said no at first you kept insisting and I thought it might be kind of fun.”
As his mind struggled to wrap around the already strange series of events, Frank instinctively unrolled the top of the paper bag Greg had set down and peered inside. “Pancake mix,” he said and looked at his brother in a way that placed a question mark at the end of his utterance.
“When I asked what I could bring that was all you said you needed.”
Frank’s mouth opened, but there was nothing he could think to say. As his niece and nephew began to run through the house and his brother and sister-in-law removed their coats, the front door opened again behind him.
When he turned to see who it was, Frank was met by a large cardboard box that tried to wedge its way into his home. Behind the box was his wife. “A little help?” she said.
Greg moved to help before his puzzled brother. Frank watched as a new Weber charcoal grill was set on his living room floor.
“Is that the right kind?”
“Kathy, we have a perfectly good gas grill out in the yard,” Frank said in shock. “Why would I need a charcoal grill?
“You kept going on and on about how gas was no way to grill properly and how you needed a charcoal grill,” his wife defended herself. “You said you refused to feed your brother and his family food off a gas grill.” She looked at her husband’s look of utter confusion and chuckled. “I thought it was strange, but I also thought it was kind of cute. You asked me to go buy a new grill while you got a little extra sleep.”
Frank opened his mouth, fully meaning to speak, but once again there was nothing to say.
“You don’t remember any of this,” his Kathy said. “You were still asleep. Oh, honey,” she continued and covered her mouth to prevent laughing. “I should have known. You worked all night, you were tired, you had no idea what you were saying to anyone.”
With the explanation finally at hand, they all laughed together, even Frank as he shook his head.
“I’ll return the grill tomorrow,” Kathy said. “Let’s order some pizzas in the meantime since we’re all together now anyway. But you know, they say that the things you say when tired tend to be closer to the truth, so you must have really wanted a charcoal grill.”
Frank looked around his house. There was his wife, brand new grill unassembled at her feet. His brother, newly promoted, stood with his arm around his own wife’s shoulder as his two children played with Frank’s dog. It seemed to be a fairly happy circumstance he stumbled into.
Then Frank remembered his boys were upstairs, sequestered, one wearing a Darth Maul face that was not going to wash off for at least a few days. But even as he thought of this it impressed the hell out of him with its accuracy and detail. It showed his sons were pretty damn interested in Star Wars. Frank was pleased by that.