Last time . . .
“It sure was kind of Mr. Randolph to let us keep Dilly over here in his stable,” Bennett remarked, after bedding down his horse which was being used in the play.
“It sure was,” Derek agreed, pulling his knitted cap down over his dark hair.
“Come on, guys, let’s get home. I’m starving!” Mia waited for her brothers to latch the stable door before adding, “And the puppies want to run.”
The boys laughed, slung their backpacks on their backs and, each taking one of the three leashes Mia was holding, started for home. The wind was blowing powdery flakes of snow into their faces and it was growing dark.
“I wish we had brought the car this time,” Bennett said several minutes later as the three siblings, huddled into their coats, waited for a light to turn green.
“I know,” Derek pulled the puppy dragging on the leash back from the street. “But Mom had to run errands and the other truck wouldn’t start.”
“Guys, I was thinking . . .”
“Uh oh,” Bennett laughed, “Mia was thinking.”
Mia made a face at her brother and almost tripped over a puppy as they crossed the street. Pushing back a stray lock of dark hair she continued. “I was thinking about the puppies.”
“Don’t tell us you’re renaming them again!” Derek pleaded. Mia had already named the three puppies and then changed their names at least four times. “They won’t know what their name is if you keep on changing them.”
“It wasn’t about that. You know we can’t keep the puppies. Dad only let us keep these this long because they were needed in the play. Uno, stop it!” Giving a quick jerk to the leash, Mia brought the unruly puppy back to her side. “Well, today, Kathy was talking about wanting a puppy and Joe mentioned really liking Tres, so I was thinking perhaps we should start letting some of the other kids at Coolidge take one of the puppies home for the night to see if they might want one after the play is over.”
The boys exchanged glances. “That’s not a bad idea, Mia,” Bennett conceded. “Let’s talk to Mom and Dad about it tonight and then, if they think it would be good, we can call one or two of the kids and check with them. What do you think, Derek?”
Derek nodded. “Let’s run it by Mom and Dad first. And speaking of running, let’s get moving or supper will be over before we get there.”
Arriving at the house breathless and warmed up, backpacks were dumped on the hall floor, coats, hats, gloves and scarves were pulled off and hung up, boots kicked off to the side of the entry way and the puppies were rubbed with towels to dry them off. Hurrying to the dining room, the three hungry high-schoolers grinned at each other as the smells of hobo stew, mashed potatoes and fresh rolls sent their stomachs to rumbling and their mouths to watering.
“We’re home, Mom!” Derek called, striding to the kitchen door.
Mrs. Marley looked up from the stove. “Hi!” she greeted them brightly. “How was rehearsal?”
“Except I was dripping with sweat in that overcoat.”
“But Mr. Sheets opened the windows, and Mom I had an idea!” Mia was eager to talk.
Derek gave her a friendly push. “Hey, wait until we’re eating. We’ve got to talk it over with Dad too.”
Mrs. Marley laughed. She was used to her daughter and her ideas. “Mia, set the table please. Boys, put the puppies in the garage and feed them. I’m about to take dinner up.”
Supper at the Marley home was a delightful family time. Mia’s idea was discussed and approved of. Talk of the upcoming play, however, was the main theme of the conversation as bowls of stew piled with fluffy mashed potatoes were eaten ravenously along with hot rolls.
When the last bowl was scraped clean and not another bite could be taken by anyone, Mr. Marley said, “It sound’s as though this play ought to be the best one yet.”
“I think it will,” Bennett agreed. “If nothing disastrous happens.”
It was growing late. Mia had been in bed for some time when Derek, having told his parents good night, quietly made his way upstairs to the room he shared with Bennett. He expected him to be nearly ready for bed if not already asleep, but to his surprise, he discovered him still seated at the desk with his science book propped up before him.
“Hey,” Derek said softly, “aren’t you about done?”
Bennett snorted. “Ha. Not even close. If I could understand what in the world they’re talking about here, I might be able to finish tonight.”
Derek leaned over his shoulder. “Where?”
“Oh, yeah, you don’t have Mr. Gebauer. He could explain anything. I can try if you want.”
“Anything.” Bennett was desperate. He never had liked science very well and he knew that if he didn’t keep his grades up, he might lose his place in the play even at this late date.
Thirty minutes later, Derek had explained the puzzling science to his brother, Bennett had completed his assignment with no trouble and both boys began preparing for bed while the cold, winter wind whistled around the snug house, shaking the bare branches of the trees and blowing the powdery snow against the screens.
“Derek,” Bennett suddenly asked, pausing in the act of taking off his shoes. “What would we do if say, the electricity for the theater went out before one of the performances?”
“Hope generators could be borrowed from stores.”
“Well, what if it happened during the play?”
“In the middle?”
Derek eyed his brother questioningly but replied, “I guess turn on some flashlights and declare curtains until we could get a generator.”
Placing his shoes side by side with the toes lined up on a certain mark on the floor and shoes laces tucked inside like he always did, Bennett frowned. “Well, what if Dilly decides to panic and tries to knock the town houses down?”
“She won’t if you are with her. Why all these questions? You’re not worrying about the play are you?”
Will you be back on Friday?