The Music in the Painting

Chapter Ten

It was only the second time Bobby had ever been in his Grandfather’s study. The first time he raced in through the open French doors and stopped in his tracks when he saw the case board.

It was like a chalk board but with cork instead of slate. There were papers stuck to it with pins and tacks put what caught his eye were the pictures.

 They were of a large bed with three children and two grown-ups. Fortunately his Grandfather got between him and the pictures before he could focus on the bloody details.

"Bobby, turn around and walk outside with me. You must never come in here unless I tell you that it’s alright, do you understand? The things I deal with shouldn’t be seen by little lads like you; you aren’t ready to cope with that sort of thing yet, okay?"   

"Yes Grampa," Bobby said worriedly.

"It’s not your fault Bobby you hadn’t been warned about it yet, but now you know, right?" 

"Yes Grampa."

This time was different, this time his Grampa came and found him and led him back to his study. He had Bobby sit beside him on a small couch. Bobby had a sense of foreboding, of impending disaster.

"There’s no good way to tell you this Bobby," his Grampa began, "Your Mom and Dad and Lilly had an accident. It was a very bad one and they didn’t live through it. I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but you needed to know."

Bobby felt the room getting smaller, there was a buzzing sound and he could feel a strange heat in his chest. He heard someone screaming and then nothing.

His Grampa picked him up from where he had fallen on the floor. He had bolted screaming from the couch towards the door but never made it. A small puddle formed under him. It was too much for a little boy to absorb without going into shock. His Grampa cleaned him and placed him in his bed with just a t-shirt and his stuffed kangaroo.

It was that dream or rather nightmare that woke Bobby in his hospital bed. He relived that moment every few weeks in his sleep. Always he woke up wailing and shouting "No!" at the top of his lungs. His wailing had woken Drew, and although being a bit disoriented himself, he grabbed Bobby’s hands and tried to calm him.

A nurse barged in and scolded them about the noise.

"He was just having a nightmare, he’ll be okay now."

The nurse said, "Maybe I should get him something so he can sleep. I can’t have him making all this noise." 

"He’s not charted for sleep meds," Drew replied, "but if you want to get yourself fired, go ahead." 

"And just who are you anyway?" asked the nurse.

Drew stood up and faced the nurse with his arms folded and naked as a jaybird and informed the nurse who he was and more importantly who his mother was.

The nurse never got a chance to reply; Floria the head night nurse came in and asked her what she was doing in a patient’s room without her okay.

Floria instructed her to go and wait at the desk, then turned her attention to Drew, "Boy put some pants on or go back to bed, your little friend seems fine now so get some sleep honey. I’ll check in a little later."

When Bobby woke a grayish light filled the room.  He turned and looked to his right and was relieved to see Drew’s face. To him it glowed, he was glad it wasn’t just a dream; he was really there. He dozed for a bit and next time he woke those beautiful sparkling green eyes were staring back at him.

"Morning," Drew said in a groggy voice. We should pee and get our clothes on; Dr. Voss makes early rounds."

"How do you know I need to pee?" asked Bobby.

"Look down; you have the same problem I do." Bobby laughed and slid out of bed and headed for the toilet.

"It’s all yours," he said when he returned. Drew had donned his underwear and socks; he padded past Bobby and smacked his bare butt as he did.

Bobby searched his bedclothes for the red underpants he was wearing when he arrived. Then he went to the closet and put on his trousers and the rest of his school uniform.

He was thinking about the glimpse he had gotten of Drew’s erect penis and how nice it looked. He would very much like to examine it closer. He wondered what Drew had thought of his own.

He thought of how the corners of his eyes crinkled and his green eyes danced as he pointed out Bobby’s erection.

Not long after they were dressed Dr. Voss walked in followed by Bobby’s Grampa. Bobby was delighted to see him. Mac greeted his Grandson exuberantly and hugged like he had been gone for years.             

"Ahem," said Dr. Voss smiling. "There is the formality of my examination." He checked Bobby’s pupils and did a strength test and pronounced him sound.

"Great!" yipped Bobby; "breakfast at Jerry’s, cool!"

"Thanks Dr. Voss, I feel pretty good now." 

Drew looked around in the hallway and found an unused wheel chair and brought it in to the room.

"Oh man, do I have to be pushed out of here in that?" asked Bobby.

"We could use the gurney if you want but it’s a rougher ride and gets more attention," replied Drew.

Bobby took his seat and Drew pushed him out of the room and down to the nurse’s station.

Dr. Voss signed the release and Mac signed off as well, and off they went. They bid Dr. Voss goodbye at the elevator.

While in the elevator Bobby stood and invited Drew to sit. 

He stood next to Mac and snagged the handcuffs from the open top carrier on his belt. Before he knew it Drew was cuffed to the chair and Bobby was pushing him into the lobby calling out "Dangerous mental patient coming through!" Drew played along instantly by rattling the cuffs and snarling and generally attempting to look demented.                                    

Drew was uncuffed just outside the hospital entry under the watchful eye of the attendants and orderlies who were gathered there for a smoke break.

The handcuffs were handed back to Mac who placed them back in the custom tooled leather pouch. "If you gentlemen are done goosing butterflies, shall we go in search of breakfast?"

Drew’s eyes popped at the sight of the car, it was a 1937 Packard estate wagon or more commonly a "Woody".

The car was immaculate. Its Maroon paint was in excellent shape for its age and all the chrome was in great shape as well.

When he had recovered Drew asked, "Is this what we’re taking? It’s beautiful". 

"It sure is," said Bobby, "It’s all original too, Grampa bought it from the original owner in Chino." 

"Wow!" Drew gasped, "Why would you ever sell a car like this?"  

"The owner was quite old," said Mac. "He bought it new in 1937 for his wife to use. WWII came and his boys joined up. One came home and the other went down on the Indianapolis.

I was on my way to Chino airport to look at a plane. I saw the car in front of a Dairy with a sign in the window. I bought the car and got his life story for free."

"That sounds cool," said Drew "a car with the history lesson as a bonus."

"Jerry’s" was a new experience for Drew. It was a cozy little diner that only served breakfast. They opened early and closed in the afternoon.

Jerry was a lovely warm if somewhat rotund woman of about fifty. She greeted each customer like an old friend.

She had the same ex-pat Yorkshire accent that Mac did. They were raised only a couple villages apart after all.

Mac and the boys were warmly greeted; she made over the boys quite a bit, going on about how handsome they both were. Bobby reached out and gave her a hug.

When they were ready to order Jerry asked, "And what will you two young gentlemen have this fine morning? I know what Mac wants. Egg and chip with a few pounds of streaky done up crisp right?"

Mac Nodded, "and a pot of ‘Cowman’s if you please.

After a brief discussion Bobby ordered for both, saying. "We’ll each have the International, three eggs over medium and orange juice. If you have it I’d like some of your compote."

"I’ll skip the compote Ma’am; I have a problem with some berries. I’m allergic not picky," He added.

The "International" was a plate with various types of bacon, traditional American bacon or "Streaky", "English" which was broiled and then pan fried, and "Canadian" thin slices fried to taste. It came with three fried eggs, beans & fried potatoes and huge slices of in house baked bread. When it arrived at the table Drew’s eyes popped.

"There’s enough here for six guys!" he gasped.

They ate quietly. Bobby demolished his plate and helped Drew finish up as well.

"Don’t you feed this lad Mac?" chuckled Jerry.

"Actually no, he smacked his head yesterday and ended up in hospital overnight. I think his last meal was breakfast yesterday poor lad," said Mac.

Drew started to launch into the entire saga but Bobby elbowed him lightly and said, "I slipped on something in the museum and got knocked out. So I had to stay overnight in case I had a concussion," explained Bobby.

Drew looked at him quizzically, Bobby promised to explain later.

With the bill paid and goodbyes said they got back into the Packard and headed for Drew’s place.

Drew looked at Bobby expectantly. Bobby turned to Drew.

"I’m sorry I cut you off back there but we didn’t know who else might be listening. I wasn’t sure you wouldn’t mention what was going on at the museum while I was down."

"Oh okay, that makes sense. Sorry, I probably would have blabbed the whole story," agreed Drew.

"That was a good call Bobby. You never know who is listening in," said Mac approvingly.

As they drove up Orangegrove Mac asked Drew where to turn.

"Make a left on Arroyo road and then it’s the third house on the left, 481 Sir."

Mac let out a low whistle, "That’s a Greene & Greene isn’t it?" he asked.

"Yes sir, that’s why my Mom bought it. She loves the style. I like it too, it’s very friendly. Something about it makes me feel very comfortable," Drew said.

"Do you know much about the architecture of these homes?" asked Mac.

"Not a lot, I’d like to learn more," said Drew.

"I’ll introduce you to my nephew David. He’s doing an assessment of our place to see if it’s attributable. The plans are only signed by Charles though. So unless there is a circumstance that accounts for that then it’s a separate effort by Charles. Maybe Henry was sick or something," said Mac.

"I’d like that," said Drew.

"Oh, and you don’t need to call me sir.  You can call me Mac or Grampa like most of Bobby’s friends do," said Mac.

"Okay err Grampa; it might take me a while to get used to that," said Drew. He was actually used to calling adults by their given names because of all the time he spent at the hospital with his Mom. The Idea of calling this man Grampa was interesting to him though, and he thought he might give it a try.

"I’ll wait for you lads here," said Mac, as he shut off the engine.

Drew led Bobby inside and up the stairs to his room. Bobby marveled at some of the art that hung on the walls. He was surprised to find a piano in Drew’s room. He smiled when he read the title of the piece that was set in the music stand. Ombra Mai Fu.

"So you play piano do you?" asked Bobby.

"Yes a bit, chords mostly; just enough so I can sing along."

"Cool, maybe we can do something at my house. Do you like Gilbert and Sullivan as well?

"Yes, especially the Mikado; I love Gilbert’s wordplay."

"Me too," agreed Bobby.  "My Grampa plays a great Poo-Bah."

Drew collected some clothes and asked if he would need a swimsuit or anything special.

"Well you can bring one if you’re bashful, but I swim nude usually, most of my family does. But bring some Levis, maybe we can go riding."

"What about a sleeping bag?"

"That’s alright; we have these things called "beds". We just sleep in those," Bobby giggled.

"Oh a wise guy Eh?! Why I oughta…" said Drew mustering his best Moe Howard impression.

Bobby responded with, "Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck," mimicking Curly.

As Drew continued to gather his things Bobby explored his room. His eyes settled on Drew’s book case.

"Aha! I knew it, you read Tolkien." The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy were front and center in the book case, not only those but the Silmarillian and a compendium of other stories. Plus Frank Herbert’s Dune, a book Bobby couldn’t put down until he was all the way through. Heinlien, Asimov, Bradbury and Clark most of Bobby’s favorite sci-fi authors were well represented. The shelves were crammed with books Bobby had read classic and contemporary alike. Then his eyes fell on two pictures. A man, a woman and a small boy, He recognized Dr. Vermeer and a very young Drew; he could only presume the man was his father. The other was a picture of the man from the first photo. He was bit older but they were definitely the same man. Bobby felt a pang as he thought of his own family, Taken away so early in his life. He quickly turned his attention elsewhere.

This room was very much like his own, posters of the Mercury and Gemini astronauts and the capsules. It was cool that they shared so many interests. He hoped they might share just one more.

"I think I have what I need, I wish I had time for a shower, I feel a bit grimy and I reek. What did you say about Tolkien?"  Drew asked.

"We can both get one at our place, I have a great shower, and you’ll love it."

"But what I was saying about Tolkien was that I knew you read it, at least The Hobbit. When you introduced yourself you said your name and then "At your service" like one of the Dwarves."

"I wondered if you would pick up on that, but yeah I read everything I can get by Tolkien. Did you read C.S. Lewis?"

"Narnia? Are you kidding? My Dad used to read it to me when I was little," Bobby said. As soon as he spoke he found himself getting teary and turned away.

Drew sensed his sudden onset of sadness and asked what was wrong. Bobby said that he would tell him later. With that they went back out to the car and told Mac they were ready to go. Bobby had regained his smile and was anxious to get Drew to himself so they could really talk without distractions. The boys jabbered at each other about music and bands and typical preoccupations of the average kid.