Manage episode 194571739 series 1879745
It was the late 1980’s and times were good for the Billages. Autumn had begun marked by leaves changing color and falling from the trees. Mildred a recent retiree from a life long career at Tech Industries a local factory was writing out her shopping list and events for the day. Her husband Herman worked at a local elementary school as a custodian for nearly forty years. The Billages were an old vinegary couple and their lives revolved around their family and work. In a world of change the Billages found solidity in being a product of the World War 2 Generation. They had three children that were now adults. Ken the oldest, was a truck driver that had a quick temper. He was married to Judith a miserable housewife that made jewelry at home for extra money. On this weekend Ken and Judy were bringing their two boys Phil and Dill over to their grandparent’s house. Ken and Judy had planned a weekend vacation and Mildred was quick to offer to watch the kids for the weekend. The Billages also had two daughters, Amy was a baker in her early 30’s and never married. She was a cutely petite sort and was self-conscious because she had a lazy eye. She was introverted un-like her sister Michelle. Michelle worked as a register clerk at a liquor store and lived with her roommate Anna. The Billages had “questions” regarding Michelle but they weren’t the cut and run sort of parents. Late in his career Herman learned to accept his fate and was learning how to “win in the long run.”
“Herman would you throw me down the stairs my keys? I gotta go to the Beaupre’s for my prescription and then to the Big D’s for grocery shopping.” Herman was sitting in his reclining chair watching television this Saturday morning munching on peanuts. Reluctantly he got up and fetched his car keys for his wife. “Mildred I know that your gonna be speeding all around the city. You better stop by Merits to fill up my Datsun or I’ll be very angry! And don’t forget to pick me up a 6 pack of 16 oz Narraganssett cans. You can stop by the Marquette and take out some money before they close at noon. I got all my life’s savings in that account so don’t go spending crazy. And what time will you be coming back; I’m bringing the boys down to Cass Park at 1? Mayor Baldelli is giving out free candy again to the kids for Halloween.” “Well you better tell the boys not to stare too much if the same Elvira is there again. Last year I couldn’t stop you and the boys from drooling over Elvira and her plentiful cleavage.” That brought a smile to Herman’s face as he was grinding a morsel of a peanut in between his dentures. “Oh I remember her, I think that I caught the mayor sneaking a peek too! I wanted to ask her out for NY Lunch after it was over.” “I was thinking Moonlight Pizza Herman; maybe you could have bought Elvira a box of popcorn too! Speaking of which, how about bringing the boys out to Twins Pizza?” Herman looked at Mildred angrily, “What?” He flailed his arms hopelessly, “I’ll have to pick up some over time to pay for all of your spending.” “Please Herman, you’re the most frugal person that I know. Just for that sissy fit, I’m taking out the boys to Josephs restaurant in the morning and I’m renting videos from Haddodo’s!” “You might as well go on a spending spree at Save Rite and Ames before you bring them to the Roller Kingdom for the day tomorrow. Sheesh, I shoulda married your sister Eleanor at least she’s reasonable with money!” “Be my guest, she’s tougher than I am and she snores in her sleep! She also has restless leg syndrome. If you want to hear her swishing around her feet all night then she’s your gal. Alright enough of this, I’ll be back in a couple of hours Mr. Grumpy, gimmie a kiss on the cheek and don’t mess up my make up.”
After that exchange Herman handed over the keys to his wife and Mildred Billage hobbled her way to the Datsun, then began her shopping route. Mildred had Renauds disease, which in this case was a symptom of another disease. It caused her extremities to lack blood in her capillaries and turn white, then to frost bite in the cold. It was a nasty thing to live with but she was a dedicated worker and a stubborn Catholic. She was determined to live through the worse while making Herman pay just a little for his sins too! Meanwhile Herman decided to get busy in his tool shed. He spent a lot of time there especially when Mildred was in one of her moods. Through the years Herman had become quite a skilled wood worker, partly as a result of “her moods!” He always thought that the lord worked in mysterious ways even if it was painful to deal with. He was working on making chairs. His particular skill was in his routering. He figured that any old wood worker could construct furniture. Herman felt that etching is where the precision skill and art was. Outside his garden was already past full bloom and his apples and pears were ripe and ready for the picking. Though, he did notice some missing. He knew that a couple boys from down the street would hop his fence and conduct what they called, “The Billage pillage!” It was named after his last name. Had they taken a lot from his garden he would have done something more than discussing the matter with their mother. He did hear screaming and crying come from their house after that discussion, and he was satisfied with his consolation prize! He sat down on his steel framed chair that he refurbished a couple of year’s prior collecting his thoughts before he started his woodshop endeavor. It was a lounge chair that he grabbed from the rubble of the Saint James Hotel fire down the road across the street from a recently re opened YMCA. Why someone would allow one of them Woonsocket Sea Hawks out of their cage while falling asleep with a cigarette lit was something beyond Herman’s comprehension.
The Billages lived on Church Street and it was a good neighborhood. Children would play outside, ride their bikes, and most of the neighbors got along with each other. During the summer many of the neighbors would have cookouts and gather for family time together. They were working class but they had class for the most part. To Herman that was part of the American way of living. Herman loved to work and didn’t mind being a custodian at a local elementary school. As a matter of fact, he liked that the school was less than a mile from where he lived and he was content with his work. What he didn’t like was the mess that he had to clean up recently when two teenagers broke into the school and vandalized a portion of it. Luckily the dolts were caught when they left a trail of glittery footprints leading up to their house half a block down from the school. He thought to himself that sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel there were tasty morsels of stupidity, and he savored every little bite!
Herman was excited with bringing his grandsons down to Cass Park this day. Where he was distant with his children and they took on a life of their own he got along extraordinarily well with his grand children. Phil was 11 and Dill was 9 and both liked all the same things that Herman liked. They managed their own paper route with the local Woonsocket Call and were boy scouts. Herman subscribed to the paper and his only gripe was that he wished that they would deliver the paper in the morning and not the afternoon. Such is life though he’d often say to himself. One of the teachers at the school where he worked would usually bring a paper in the morning and let Herman read the paper during lunch break. He liked the teacher. This teacher was in love with Hawaii and even showed his vacation slides to his students. He’d often hear the gossip of the school and that was something that was unique to being a custodian.
An observation that Herman noted was that while the students and faculty had specific actions, the custodian was the only floating piece in the puzzle. Sometimes he would float around to different schools in the city when help was needed. Usually he’d hear childish talk and petty gossip. At his main school his teacher friend got made fun of because he wore bell-bottoms and butterfly collared shirts to school. Kids comedy was sometimes classic. However; one thing concerned him and it was the constant chatter of a deceased teacher. This particular teacher was accused of a despicable act with a student. The teacher denied it, but couldn’t stand the shame from the accusation and following gossip so he drove to the Rhode Island coast pulled his shirt over his head and jumped off a cliff into the salty waters drowning himself. That was the single most unnerving event of Herman’s whole career. The chatter from the teachers were like individual stabs of hatred that oozed with poison. Herman wasn’t particularly close to this teacher but he empathized with the person and everyone in the school that was affected by the situation. He noticed a difference in the children that the teacher taught. Children might not show it on the surface, but he found that all kids were sensitive to traumatic events in their own way.
Herman kept to himself and as a custodian that was part of his job. Teachers are a reputation-oriented lot and accusations such as what was accused, was deadly serious and harmful. Such is life he said out loud while thinking of this matter, but sometimes such is a bad reality! When he first started his job, he realized that custodians weren’t a very respected lot. He had accepted his fate, but he didn’t accept being a dolt or being treated like one. Though he lived an ordinary life and was always polite, he built a world of his own in his hobbies and beliefs. Herman heard the sound of his son’s vehicle and the boys were about to arrive for the weekend. Judith was the first to get out of the car. She looked angry and then Ken and the boys got out of the vehicle. “I want these kids punished this weekend. They didn’t clean their rooms and Phil called his brother a piece of shit.” “What? Why’d he go and do a thing like that?” Herman asked Judy. He didn’t want to show it, but he was smiling deep down because he loved a good petty squabble. Judy started to tell Herman the reason for the punishment. “Well allegedly Phil bullied Dill into making him a sandwich, and allegedly Dill put a bugger in his sandwich and gave him toilet bowl water, but I don’t believe that Dill would go and do a thing like that.” “Alright enough talk!” Ken interrupted and was getting red in the face. “Punish them this weekend will you dad? Judy and I have plans and we have to go.” That was that, it was solved! They were punished for the weekend. Ken and Judy gave their farewell and left Phil and Dill with Herman for the weekend. “Where’s Grams?” Phil asked to his grandfather. “She’s shopping. Come on into the shed with me. I’m working on making chairs.” They went into the wood working shed and Herman started to show the kids his unfinished chairs.
Buggers and toilet bowl water was right up Herman’s alley but he couldn’t let the boys think that fighting is good! “Now what sort of stupidity invaded both of your minds? Phil why are you bullying your brother into being your butler, and you Dill why buggers and toilet bowl water? If you both tell me the truth and give me good answers you won’t be punished and we’ll have a fun time this weekend. There will be no words to Grams, but only if you give me a truthful answer.” Herman stood there in silence waiting for the boys to start talking. Phil started first. “I wanted a sandwich and I was playing a video game. I make Dill do all sorts of things.” “So you’re a bully? How about I kick your ass and make you kiss my shoes, how would that make you feel?” Herman said as he gave his grandson a stern eye-to-eye look. Phil looked away and got teary eyed. He didn’t like to get into trouble, but he felt a stab of guilt because he cared when his grandfather corrected him. Especially when he knew he was wrong. “So are you going to continue to be a bully to your brother and make me disown you as a grandson?” Herman lied but said anyway. “No” was the only word that he had enough will to speak. “And you- you little pipsqueak bastard” and the boys both couldn’t help but giggle “don’t laugh it’s not funny!” Herman quickly picked up a broom and shook it. “What in the world would make you think of doing something so sick as putting a bugger in your brothers sandwich and giving him toilet bowl water?” For some reason Herman was rather entertained with something so disgustingly creative but he held a stern posture. Dill was nervous and started to speak. “I don’t like being bullied and he does it all the time. So I put a bugger in his sandwich and gave him toilet bowl water and you know what he didn’t even know it until he saw me laughing. Then he said what are you laughing at, what’d you do? Then I told him and he punched me in my kidneys until I peed myself. He was calling it “Operation Piss pants” Mom only heard the swearing part.” Herman tried hard to be serious, but how could he be mad with something as golden as that? “Then there’s that time with the Asian kid.” Dill commented. “What time with what kid.” Herman looked to Phil suspiciously. Phil got red in the face and looked meanly to Dill. Dill started to talk anyway. “Last year we were walking with Phil’s friend Ed and there was some Asian kid Phil’s age running around outside in his underwear without shoes during a snow storm. “I asked him why he was outside without clothes. He said that he doesn’t get cold. So Phil and Ed beat him up and we all buried him in the snow.” “What happened to him?” “He got up quickly and was shivering rubbing his hands saying, “So cold, so cold!”
Herman paused for a moment to think about what he just heard, and then started to speak. “Now you see Phil all of this could have been avoided if you weren’t such a bully! And you Dill wipe that smile off of your face, just because your brother is a jerk to you doesn’t give you the right to get revenge in sick ways. Don’t you know that you could have really hurt that kid in the cold! So why’d you do it?” Phil shuffled his feet and scratched his head anxiously while searching for an answer. “I wanted to see if he would get cold, because he said that he wouldn’t.” Phil lied. “Do you get cold in the snow? What if he had a big brother that would have come out and did the same to you?” “Well we are still friends, if that matters.” Phil finalized. “Well my wisdom fails me on that one. He’s a bigger person than you are for forgiving you, because I wouldn’t have. My point was that you two are both brothers, when the year’s move on you will realize that you two are all that you have. So is there anything that you two have to say to each other?”
The boys were listening and didn’t have the feeling that they were really getting yelled at or there was any impending doom. Phil started to speak first. “I might bully Dill but he does stuff too. He drops his retainer in my drink all the time.” “And did you do anything to deserve it?” “I made him make me the drink.” “Yeah but he doesn’t tell you what he did afterwards.” Dill said. “Oh you guys are really fighting in ways that you shouldn’t be. Do your parents know about this? What’d he do afterward?” Herman liked to know all of the details of the petty squabbling. “He put me in a headlock and started to give me a wedge. His friend Ed was over the house and mom and dad wasn’t home. Him and his friend Ed took the back of a hammer stood on a chair poked holes in my underwear with the hammer and gave me a super wedge. I was lifted off of the ground and they kept it there till my underwear ripped off. They were making jokes about fishing for kiva in the Blackstone river but that the waters were polluted.” Herman couldn’t help but to laugh and quickly put a mean face on. “Did it hurt Dill?” “At first it did but not really, I was dangling in the air for a little while. I was scared and it hurt when I hit the ground when my underwear ripped off. I started to cry and they were laughing at me holding up the underwear band and pointing in my face and yelling “quaaank, quaaank, quaaank!” Mom and Dad fight all the time and we usually fight right after them. I only get in trouble when I tell and get beat up, so I don’t say anything.” “I’m not liking what I’m hearing. Let me tell you something. I want the truth from you two at all times. If I ever hear that either of you fight like enemies or have friends help I swear to god I will put my foot so far up both of your asses that you’ll have to go to the doctors and they’ll think it grew there. Am I making myself clear?” Both of the boys said yes.
Herman felt the need to say some more. “Now if your parents are arguing a lot just know that it’s not your fault, but torturing each other is! You guys don’t need to feel the need to fight because your parents do and having friends help is unacceptable. What goes on between them has nothing to do with you. I hope that both of you know that.But what goes on between you two needs to stop. Your brothers not enemies and not animals; from what I’m hearing that’s what your acting like. Sometimes us grown ups forget that what we do effects other people especially our own kids. Does any of this make any sense or it is too much words?” Dill questioned first, “But like I said we get in trouble whenever they get into a fight. And Phil is a jerk.” “Here’s my solution, I’ll let you both take your bike’s home with you when your parents pick you up tomorrow night. I’ll talk to them and the both of you can come over here after school gets out and I’ll bring the both of you home and bikes in my truck afterwards. You don’t have to be here everyday and I’m sure that your grandmother won’t mind. I can’t promise that she won’t start her Mildred Authoritarianism, but you know your grandmother. Whenever it gets bad at home come on over. We can work in the woodshop or I can teach you some other fun stuff that you can show off to your scout troop. But let me say this, if I ever catch word that you two are torturing each other like you have been I will show you a wrath that will make your parents shake in their boots.”
“Dad are you there?” A distant shout was heard from outside of the shed. The voice was familiar. It was his daughter Amy. She was carrying a bag full of freshly baked bread. “That’s not the bread that you make with too much yeast is it? I’ve told you that I don’t like it when you ad all of that yeast, it ruins the bread.” “No, dad I remembered and made you some with less yeast just for you.” “Hi aunt Amy!” Dill said. Amy wasn’t too fond of kids, even if they were family. She did her best to say hi then brushed them off like they were strangers. “ Where’s mom? I told her that I would be here so that we could go shopping together.” “She already left.” “She did?” “Yup she didn’t even mention that you were going to be here. She was going shopping at Big D’s and then to a few other places.” “Oh, well I’m not going there. They don’t like me there!” “Well that’s where she is. I don’t know what to tell you. Me and the boys are busy unless you have to talk about something else.” Amy started to make a scene in her own way, “Well you can tell mom that I’m not talking to her unless she calls and apologizes for standing me up today. Next time I bring bread I wont promise that it will be the way you like it.” Amy stumbled as she made her way to her car and sped off in her best attempt to be seriously angry.
“I’m surprised that Mildred left without aunt Amy, I wonder what happened! What do you think of that?” Herman asked the boys. “I can’t tell where’s she’s looking when I talk to her.” Dill said. “She doesn’t like us anyway.” Phil said. “It’s not you two, she just doesn’t like kids at all. She gets along really well with the church parishioners and the elderly, but when you ad kids into the mix she gets crabby. She has a boyfriend now though.” The boys started laughing and making jokes about the kind of guy that would date her. “Don’t laugh!” Though Herman was laughing too. “Here’s what I know and don’t tell anyone. She’s dating a guy named Obie that got kicked out of seminary school for what he called a political reason, but I heard that he had a drinking problem. For years he wanted to be a Franciscan Monk. He says that he has a problem with his hips and can’t work a normal job. Luckily he got a job playing the organ at church. That’s how he met your Aunt Amy. They are both church musicians. “Uhf! Does dad know about it?” Phil asked. “No I don’t think that he does. I could just imagine his reaction toward anyone dating Amy. She seems to like Obie a lot and did you notice the picture of him dangling from her rear view mirror? Anyway your dad and aunts didn’t exactly get along that well when they were kids. Amy and Michelle used to pick on him try to sabotage him with girls and you know how they like to gossip. This isn’t something that I should talk to you boys about right now. Lets go back to the shed until your grandmother gets home.”
Herman was showing his grandsons the basics of routering and was showing them all of the different bits to use and samples of what each head would produce. He was about half way through his routing arsenal when he heard another vehicle arrive and this time it was his daughter Michelle. “Dad are you in the shed?” He heard the shouting. Phil ran out of the shed to greet his aunt Michelle. They got along very well. She was carrying a bag full of liquor bottles. Considering that the Billages weren’t exceptionally heavy drinkers it seemed odd that she would bring these bottles. “Hey Michelle, you got a hair cut it’s really short this time.” “Dad you don’t like it? I was told that it was in style. My friend Anna cut it for me, it makes me look young.I brought you a couple of bottles of wine, scotch, and vodka.” “Are you alright Michelle?” Herman asked while heightening the pitch of his voice slightly. “You know that your mother and I don’t drink. I mean we will keep the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Merlot but that hard liquor I don’t want.” “That’s fine my friends Marie, Anna and I will have a party.” “Have a blast! To me, all that hard liquor is a waste and only leads to worse things. For future reference, don’t bring hard liquor here, if your mom see that she’ll freak!” The boys walked back to the woodshed during this discussion, but soon walked outside to talk to their aunt.
“Aunt Michelle your hair is really short.” Phil was the first to say. “Don’t you like it?” “It makes you look like a boy aunt Michelle. But you are still my favorite aunt!” “Gee thanks Phil but considering that Amy is my competition I’m not sure that’s a compliment.” Dill butted into the conversation. “Aunt Amy already stopped by here, her and Grandpa were talking. She was mean to us and she has a picture of her new boyfriend dangling from her rear view mirror in her car.” Michelle laughed. “She’s mean to everyone, at least she tries to be. But she does seem to be overly giddy about her boyfriend Obie. I’m surprised that she doesn’t drive with one of her cats in her car too.” “How’d you know that she does that?” Phil asked his aunt. “The last time she went to my house she brought over her calico cat. It’s supposed to be de-clawed but the thing is still really mean. And all she talks about is how her church organ playing boyfriend is the best thing that ever happened to her.” “Aunt Michelle she brought a bunch of bread over, if you want any!” “Do you mean the bread with too much yeast Dill?” “That’s what Grandpa said, but she said that she put less yeast in it this time.” “Well I’ll be over for Sunday dinner anyway so I wont take any, but thank you for the offer. Alright boys give me a kiss goodbye, I got to go.” With that Michelle said her good byes took her bottles of vodka and scotch and drove off.
“Well boys what do you think of that one?” “I think that she’s funny.” Phil said. “I think that she lies a lot but I like her stories.” Dill said. “I think that you’re both right, and some times she hurts people intentionally, but the good thing is that she likes the both of you. Now lets go back into the shed.” Herman led the way back to restart their wood working lessons. Herman was showing the boys how to router the back of the chair and how to use a pre made template to etch a design. He allowed his grandsons to try it out themselves. “You both catch on quickly. Thank god that you both don’t have the same kind of clumsiness as your father.” Some time had passed and they were making good progress with the wood crafting. A horn was beeping outside and it was Mildred letting Herman know that she needed help with the groceries.
“While you were gone, both Michelle and Amy stopped over. There’s some bread inside for tomorrow’s dinner and Michelle brought over a couple bottles of wine. I think that you should call up Amy, she was upset that you went shopping without her.” “Upset! What? She was the one that kept complaining about how she was tired, and then how she had no money, and then how she had to go and watch her precious little boyfriend Obie go and play the church organ! Please, give me a break! If she wants to cry I’ll give her something to cry about, now don’t get me started.” Mildred immediately changed her tune when she saw her grandsons. “Now there is the sunshine of my day. How are you two?” Herman and the boys grabbed the groceries and started to walk inside. Mildred hobbled along with them. Phil started to talk, “I got another badge in boy scouts.” “I got mostly A’s on my report card.” Dill spoke trying to top his brother. “That’s good, I’m proud of you both. I think that you two should go and wash your hands and get ready for your day with your grandfather.”
Shortly after bringing in the groceries and cleaning up themselves they fought over who gets to sit in the front seat of the Datsun before Herman made them both sit in the back seat. Finally they were starting off on their way to Cass Park. Herman was on Clinton Street almost reaching Major Video when he noticed that his gas tank was on empty. “Dammit!” “What’s wrong?” Phil asked. “Your grandmother went driving around the city and didn’t put any gas in the car. I’m gonna stop by Merits and one of you pump the gas in the tank while I go to pay for it.” Both of the boys took turns pumping the gas and got back in the car and within a short while they were at Cass Park. Like the past year there was a lot of people at the park but not overbearingly full. The boys weren’t in costume like they were the prior year and they were all disappointed to notice that Elvira wasn’t at this year’s event. Herman had brought the bottle of Merlot wine with him as a present for Mayor Baldelli. They were waiting in the long line to greet the mayor and get candy for the kids. There were many familiar faces for the school custodian and for Phil and Dill there were a few of their friends from school there. One of Herman’s close friends stopped by to greet them all, “How bout a box of popcorn” the old man scruffily said to the boys and shuffled their hair with his noticeably long discolored fingernails. It was Harry Sherman a retired man whom was busy in local politics as a volunteer. He stood by his Reliant K vehicle with political bumper stickers covering the back and political buttons and pillows covering the rear window. Phil and Dill never understood why he’d ask them “How bout a box of popcorn?” and then would laugh right after that. They’d make fun of him, but he was a good-natured person and volunteered a lot of his time to many local causes. Herman and Harry talked for a few minutes and Herman said to the boys, “Harry’s gonna let us cut to the front. See it’s good to have friends.” They made their way toward the front and when they met the Mayor, Herman handed him the bottle of wine, “Happy Halloween.” “Hey I’m supposed to be the one handing out candy not getting gifts in return.” “To tell you the truth, I brought the wine for Elvira that was here last year. I wanted pitch a tent in the field and have a picnic with her.” The mayor laughed and smiled, “You’re a centrist! So who are these two handsome boys?” Herman introduced his grandchildren and the mayor handed them candy wished them a good holiday and they were on their way. “That was quick.” Herman said and was happy that it was. “Where are we going now?” Phil asked. “How about we go to Hadodo’s and rent a movie.” Herman asked his grand children. “Grandpa, see that guy with the crutches leaning by the pole.” “Yeah I see him, he looks like a bum.” “That’s 401-765-4321 Crazy Eddie.” Dill enthusiastically said. “Who the hell is crazy Eddie?” “Call up the phone number and listen to his message and you will know.” “C’mon boys get in the car.” Herman started up his Datsun and sped off down the road toward Cumberland hill rd and turned in to Delude Ave. “Were are you going?” “Leon’s I’m buying some of his 1$ grinders for lunch the coming week.” Leon’s variety store was a local store with a wood exterior. He had a small deli cooler section were and a slicer behind the counter where he sold inexpensive sandwiches and other items. It was a neighborhood store, and he was a local neighborhood business owner who knew most of the people that lived around the area. “Getting more bald there Leon.” He rubbed the top of his head. “That’s why I keep my head shaved” and he smiled. The kids bought some swedish fish and sour punches, Herman bought a couple of grinders and sodas before they made their way to Hadodo’s. Before long there were at Hadodo’s a local family owned store and they walked into the store where Margaret was standing behind the register. Aziz Hadodo was restocking the shelves while the Hadodo’s daughters Sarah and Ann Marie were walking around the store. Phil and Dill walked to the video shelves to look at the movies available. Dill has a crush on Ann Marie and hid behind one of the shelves to get a look at her while Phil made jokes before pulling Dill to look at the movie “The Warriors”. Meanwhile Herman was making small talk with Margaret and Aziz who informed him that the last time that he saw his grandkids Phil had come into the store with Dill and made Dill put a Voltron doll under his shirt and run out of the store. Dill had run nearly to the end of the DMV building when Aziz yelled out for Dill to stop and he did then ran back to give him the toy and then he told him “Now go home and tell your mother what you just did.” Apparently he never told his parents and Herman was angered to find out this news. With that new information upon instruction he kept to himself and waited at the counter until the boys went up to the counter with “The Warriors” and “The Beast Master” and that’s when Herman confronted his grandsons. “What’s this that I hear that you two tried stealing from this store and Aziz caught you in the act?” Herman looked firm at both of the boys while they shifted their feet and kept their eyes lowered. “You know in my country if you get caught stealing they would take off a hand.” Aziz said Herman hid his face to hide his smile. “I know that you brought it back as soon as you got caught. Aziz isn’t angry but I am, I don’t like thieving grandsons especially when they are taught right from wrong.” There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Herman asked. “Is there anything that you want to say to Aziz?” Phil was the first to speak being older and more outspoken. He was full of angry tears, “I didn’t that we would get caught and I’ve never stolen before. I’m sorry it’ll never happen again.” Dill spoke after, “I didn’t want to do it and I was guilty all day for it. I’m sorry too.” With that Aziz smiled, “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. I know that you are good boys and I was surprised that you would do something like that when all you had to do was ask. I would have worked something out with you.” After that Aziz took the videos from the boys looked for the video cassettes walked over to the other side of the counter and handed the video’s to Herman. “No charge, I’m satisfied that they apologized because next week their mother is starting to work here part time as a cashier and if they try anything like that again they will have to deal with her.” He smiled a wide grin and Herman did too. After leaving the store the boys were quiet and angry and when they arrived at Twins pizza they stayed in the car while their grandfather ordered the pizzas and waited for them. All was quiet during the drive home and when they arrived home Mildred set the table and they ate dinner. “There is no pizza parlor like twins pizza it taste different than the rest and the pieces are square.” Mildred said as she took a bite out of her mushroom pizza. Both Phil and Dill ate pepperoni and Herman ate both. Herman didn’t mention the days events concerning Hadodo’s and the boys finally started to joke again and shortly after began to watch their movies. The next day arrived with a constant downpour and strong gusty winds. Mildred left for church early in the morning while the boys got ready to go to Roller Kingdom for the day. Roller Kingdom was a roller skating and arcade facility. The boys had their own pair of roller skates and were excited to compete in some of the contests that were held. They informed Herman of how the skating arena had a DJ where they could request songs and told their grandfather about all of the arcade games. The last time that Phil and Dill were in a reverse skating only round they were speeding and one of Dill’s friends fell on top of a girl and broke her leg.
When Mildred arrived home she brought the boys to Roller Kingdom for the afternoon. Herman helped Mildred prepare for the Sunday meal. They were expecting Michelle, Judy, Ken, and Amy with her boyfriend. “How do you think Ken is going to react when he meets Amy’s new boyfriend?” Herman asked his wife while he was setting up the table. Mildred motioned to Herman while preparing stuffing for the chicken. “Go get me an onion and grab me the sage.” She barked “What’s wrong with you?” Herman asked as he grabbed the ingredients that his wife asked for. “Now chop up the onion I don’t want to get all clogged up when I’m focused on what I’m doing.” “Something must have happened at church.” She stopped what she was doing and held up a butchers knife that she was cutting up carrots with and pointed it in Hermans direction. “Here’s what makes me angry, I go to the church every week and I give what I can and I am a good catholic and then here comes little miss kitty cat Amy who hasn’t been attending church at all mind you where her darling Obie greets her and the circle of ‘holier than now’s’ surround her in their cocoon and treat her like a princess.” Mildred faced the cutting board and grabbed a loaf of the bread that Amy brought over. “She looked to me and then ignored me like I was some kind of stranger.” Herman kept his head down and chopped up the onion not wanting to be on the receiving end when Mildred was getting in a mood. “Maybe she was caught up in the excitement.” “No I know her she was getting back at me for not taking her shopping with me and now she has her high and mighty church organ playing boyfriend. I hope that he choke’s on her bread during dinner.” Herman laughed while he handed Mildred the bowl of minced onions and took a slice of the bread. He held it in his hand and took a bite waving it as he started to talk. “I had a discussion with the boys about them coming over during the weekdays to give their parents a break.” Mildred stopped what she was doing and looked wide eyed at Herman, “Why? Is there something that I should know about?” “I wont go into every detail but the kids have been getting into trouble a lot and have been fighting in ways that they shouldn’t.” “Oh” “That’s not all of it.” Mildred squinted her eyes and puckered her lips, “Tell me everything and don’t you leave out any details Herman! I’ll know if your lying so don’t you try and cover things up.” Herman fearing his wife’s sternness shifted a little and stuttered before he started to explain, “Ken and Judy have been fighting a lot lately and it’s tough on the boys and in turn they have been fighting in slightly funny but sick ways. Also, when we went to Hadodo’s Aziz told me that Phil had Dill put a toy under his shirt and ran out of the store. Dill gave back the toy when Aziz ran out of the store yelling at them. They were sorry and were crying about it.” Mildred interrupted them, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing.” “They know that they are wrong and believe me Mildred I’m around kids and know how they act. We both know that the kids aren’t bad but their parents arguing is making them act out and neither Ken or Judy is catching on to how their behavior effects others. That is why I am having them ride their bikes over here during the week and I’ll bring them home at night. It’ll be good for them and it will be good for their parents.” Mildred started to get back to her food prep work. “Are you sure that you are going to be able to handle that extra responsibility?” “It’s our duty as grandparents to make sure that our grandkids are raised properly.” After their conversation Mildred had Herman get her a can of soda and made him peel a bag of potatoes. She put on a Neil Diamond record and immersed herself into her dinner cooking.
A while later Herman picked up the boys from Roller Kingdom and brought them back to the house to clean up for dinner. When the guests arrived it was Michelle then Ken and Judy. They all had their greeting and the kids were happy to have the commotion of the family gathering soaking up the excitement of a filled room. It was nearing the time for dinner and Amy still had not arrived. Ken and Judy were familiar with Obie from attending holiday church services with their children. Ken was smug on the subject of his sister having a boyfriend and skeptical that they would get along. The table was set and food was being placed when Amy arrived with Obie and her calico cat. That set Mildred off, “Your not bringing your cat in here especially when were about to have our Sunday meal.” Amy didn’t stop and put her cat on the floor. For some reason she seemed overconfident while her boyfriend Obie was running his hand over his nose and placing a finger under it like he was about to sneeze. Ken stood up and handed Obie a tissue and firmly said, “Make sure that you wash your hands before sitting at the table.” It was an order not a question and those sitting at the table gave an affirmative nod. Red blotches appeared on Obie’s cheeks but he smiled and showed his two front teeth as a response. Dinner was served and Amy commented to her boyfriend on how she made that bread. He grabbed a sliced and said, “It seems kind of hard, I’m not sure if I’ll like it.” This made Amy smile, “I always make it better than this but my dad complained that it had too much yeast.” That caused Ken and Judy to cough and Mildred too charge, “Simmer down and lets hold hands and say grace before dinner.”
After saying grace they served the food and ate their Sunday meal. Herman began the conversation about how the boys were going to start spending their afternoons after school at their grand parents house and he was tiptoeing around the reasons for it. He explained that he wanted to spend more quality time with his grandsons and teach them a skill while he still had the youthful energy and wits to do it. During dinner Amy and Obie stayed to themselves and were playing games and it irritated Mildred. Amy placed her showl that she had around her neck over her head like she was mother Teresa and this made Michelle angry. Michelle bunched her fists and butted them together. “Keep on playing and watch what happens.” Herman was about to talk but Mildred spoke first. “You quit playing cutsie and eat your food.” Speaking to Amy she barked then looked to Michelle, “This aint fight time by the swing set, put your guns in your holsters and eat your food.” Phil and dill covered their faces with their napkins and laughed hysterically. Faster than thought possible dinner was over and Amy and Michelle washed the dishes while the others lounged and conversed before leaving for the evening. Before the boys left Phil and dil thanked their grandfather and he pulled them aside, “I didn’t tell on your parents about what’s been going on or about the stealing at Hadodo’s but I do expect to see you boys over here right after school.”
Finally after a week at work and busy weekend with his grandchildren it was Mildred and Herman both drinking a Narragansett beer sitting on the couch, “Boy am I pooped.” Mildred said “Me too.” Herman said as he pulled out the keys from his pocket and placed them on the arm rest kicked off his shoes placed his feet on the foot rest while his wife reached out to hold his hand.
19 episodes available. A new episode about every 7 days averaging 5 mins duration .