Thanks for returning to learn more about Aiden’s new life. It is going to be a long story and I hope you stay with it. I appreciate the emails I’ve received telling me how much you have already grown to like the little nine-year-old boy.
Larry and Phil were cuddled in their bed following their long day of boating and swimming. They had just enjoyed some loving sex and were now engaged in pillow talk.
“Aiden and Gordon seem to have hit it off,” Phil observed. “It was almost like an instant friendship.”
“From the way Aiden grumbled about not wanting friends, it was much more than I expected,” Larry said.
“Aiden’s enthusiasm level went through the roof when he was around Gordon.”
“Especially when he’s naked on top of Gordon humping his new friend’s naked ass.”
Larry had decided to save that incident for bedtime talk. He would have said something sooner, but, as tired as they were, they found themselves in a horny mood. He told Phil what he’d seen when he barged into Aiden’s bedroom. “I think it started as nude wrestling and morphed into something more.”
“Not really—they’re a bit young for that. It simply became something that was different, felt good, and was naughty.”
“I had more than a clue about sex when I was nine.”
“You had two big brothers to show you the way,” Larry laughed. “I think the humping was simply part of their bonding.” Larry went on to tell Phil about his promise to knock before entering Aiden’s room.
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Phil sighed and then said, “Let’s get to sleep. We have another big day planned tomorrow. This playing parent business is pretty exhausting.”
“Not to mention fun.”
“Yep, not to mention a lot of fun—at least until our first major crisis.”
Larry kissed Phil’s cheek. “Get yourself to sleep, Mr. Pessimist. You obviously need the rest.”
Aiden heard his uncles stirring about the house and got out of bed. He decided to get up before one of them knocked on the door to wake him up. He had slept in his briefs because his Uncle Larry had watched him get into bed. He really wanted to sleep in the nude, but there was no way he was going to let his queer uncle watch him take his undies off. I’ll sleep naked tonight, he thought to himself, not entirely sure why he hadn’t slept naked the night before.
He pulled off his briefs, tossed them into the hamper, and trundled across the hall to the bathroom. He grabbed a towel out of the towel cabinet, draped it over the rack, and took a shower. As he dried himself, he looked in the mirror. He saw a thin boy with scraggly blond hair that hung over his forehead and lightly freckled cheeks. He wondered whether or not he was good looking.
Parker had told him he was sexy, but Parker was weird. Luke had told him he was ugly, but Luke was an asshole. Aiden giggled at the thought. The boyfriend of his mom who tried to touch his privates called him cute, but he was even weirder than Parker. He looked at his little cock and tight balls. He smiled when he thought about his nude wrestling match with Gordy. He couldn’t believe he’d done that, but he was certain he’d do it again. He wondered if Gordy would do it again, too.
Aiden pulled on a fresh pair of briefs, a Seahawks t-shirt, and a pair of socks, which was actually more than his uncles required him to wear for a meal. They’d never said anything about socks, but he liked having socks on his feet when he stepped onto the parts of the floor that were wood or tile instead of being carpeted.
“Good morning, Aiden,” Phil said cheerfully as the boy entered the kitchen. Aiden sat at the kitchen table, saying nothing. “You’re not saying good morning? That’s not a good way to start your day.”
“Who cares how I start my day?” The grumpy Aiden had returned. Phil wondered if the boy simply wasn’t a morning person, or if not having had breakfast made him cranky.
“The way you start your day helps set the tone for your day. A nice good morning helps put you in the proper mood.”
“You and Uncle Larry are weirdos.”
“That could be true, but at least we’re usually happy weirdos. How does French toast and bacon sound for breakfast?”
Aiden tried unsuccessfully to fight off a grin. “Sounds good.”
“Milk or orange juice to drink?”
“That would be both, please,” Phil told him, firmly.
“I gotta say please?”
“It’s the magic word that opens many doors in this house.”
“You guys gots a lot of rules here.”
“That would be, ‘you guys HAVE lots of rules here.” He and Larry agreed it was time to start Aiden on the road to proper English and proper manners.
“That’s what I said.”
“You were close to that. Now, say it the way I said it, and life is good.”
“Life sucks. I hate it here.”
“We love having you here,” Larry said as he entered the kitchen.
Aiden noticed that Phil had made no attempt to start his breakfast. He sat at the table and sulked, wishing he was living with his Uncle Troy. He wanted to sit at the table and never eat again, but his growling stomach was telling him that choice wasn’t what he really wanted.
“Is our boy in a grumpy mood this morning?” Larry asked.
“He doesn’t appear to be a morning person,” Phil grinned.
Aiden tried putting on his best scowl as he looked down at the empty spot on the table in front of him. “When do I get my breakfast?” he barked.
“I’m still waiting for the magic word,” Phil answered.
“You mean THE magic word?” Larry asked, fully understanding what Phil was after.
“Yep, you know which that is, and so does Aiden.”
Hunger won out over the stubborn protest. “Can I have some breakfast, PLEASE!”
Larry grinned and gave his nephew’s shoulder a little squeeze. “We’ll need to work on the tone of voice, but that was a good start.”
While wishing Larry would let go of his shoulder at the same time he wished Larry would squeeze it tighter and give him a big hug, Aiden kept his eyes glued on Phil as his uncle dipped bread into a bowl of French toast batter and placed the bread on a hot griddle. He slapped some bacon on the griddle, the smells causing the hungry boy to drool.
“Can I have some milk and orange juice…please?” Aiden asked in a slightly more pleasant tone as he remembered how the conversation of using please had started. Larry let go of Aiden’s shoulder and poured a glass of each. “Thank you,” Aiden said shyly.
Soon, everybody was busily eating their breakfast. “What are we doing today?” Aiden asked between mouthfuls.
“As soon as the kitchen is clean and we are dressed the three of us are heading to City Hall and the town Park Office to get you signed up for soccer,” Larry told him. Aiden’s wide grin revealed his straight, white teeth. Phil and Larry had both been amazed and pleased about how straight Aiden’s teeth had grown in—that meant they could avoid the cost of an orthodontist and braces.
“Then can I go swimming?” Aiden pleaded.
“No. We’re going into Centralia to buy you some posters for your bedroom.”
“I thought we were going there on my birthday. Tomorrow is my birthday.”
“We are also going out for your birthday dinner tomorrow,” Phil explained. “If you end up on the Bobcats then you have practice tomorrow afternoon. We don’t plan on spending the day driving almost an hour to Centralia, then driving back for practice, and then driving there again to eat.”
“But what am I going to do in the morning tomorrow?”
We are going to have to work on the boy’s whining, Larry thought.
“You’ll think of something,” Phil assured him.
“Swimming!” Aiden grinned. Then his smile broke out even wider. “Or water skiing. I did pretty good my last time.”
“Yes you did,” Larry said.
Phil, Larry, and Aiden were soon walking up the stone steps of the Town Hall. The Park Department office was on the first floor and they quickly entered it. Ruth Barnhart was sitting at her desk. While Ed Carter had the title of Park Director, Ruth was the person who ran the office and the parks programs. Ed’s interest lay in park upkeep and maintenance and he was usually found in one of the town’s three parks or at the athletic fields. Ruth was sixty and close to retirement, but word around town was that she would probably work until she died peacefully at her desk sometime after her one-hundredth birthday.
The biggest park was the downtown park. It was, in essence, the center of town. It had jogging trails, tennis courts and basketball courts, a picnic area, and a wading pool. Mayfield Park was on the south side of Lake Mayfield. The park on the northwest corner, which abutted the property of Larry and Phil was a State Park. Mayfield had a smaller park on the east side of the lake with a boat launch, picnic area, and roped off area for swimming. It also had a youth baseball field. The third park was at the south end town and was a wooded park. Mayfield Parks had a small athletic complex for soccer and baseball, and also maintained the high school baseball field.
Larry greeted Mrs. Barnhart with a wide smile. “Hello, Mrs. B.”
“Well, good morning, coach,” she replied. “To what do we owe this visit by such a famous luminary?” With three Class A State Baseball titles and a Class A Baseball Coach of the Year award in his trophy case, Larry Sanders was as close to a celebrity as Mayfield had.
“Allow me to introduce Aiden.” Aiden smiled shyly and held out his hand across the counter as he had been instructed. Ruth took it and gave him a firm handshake.
“My goodness, what a polite boy you have,” she grinned. Aiden grinned proudly. Ruth knew that Phil and Larry would be guardians for the young nephew for an undetermined time. There were few secrets in a small town.
Phil put his hand on Aiden’s shoulder and gave him a fond squeeze. “We understand that soccer registration is still open and Aiden would like to be placed on a team.”
“I want to be on the Bobcats with my friend Gordy,” Aiden stated.
“My goodness, you have been here for three days and already you have a friend. That is wonderful,” Ruth gushed.
“He’s my best friend,” Aiden informed her, surprised that he had said that. He couldn’t remember ever having a best friend before.
“Well, let’s see how the rosters look.” Ruth opened a file drawer and pulled out a manila folder. “I can’t promise you anything.” She actually could have placed him on the Bobcats without even looking at the file, but she wanted the process to look professional.
As she flipped through the file, Phil put his hand back on Aiden’s shoulder. The boy looked up at his Uncle with glistening, hopeful blue eyes. “I hope they have room.”
“I have a feeling they will,” Phil told him. He had little doubt that if there wasn’t room on the roster, Ruth would make room. The Park League didn’t have quite the strict roster requirements that the travel leagues had.
“Well, my goodness, I believe young master Aiden is in luck. There just happens to still be an opening on the Bobcats.”
Aiden jumped in the air, almost knocking Phil backward. “Yippee, I get to play with Gordy and Miles. It’s going to be so fun.”
Larry filled out the necessary paperwork and then was given the phone number of the coach to find out about practice and practice requirements. Aiden was so amped he couldn’t stand still as he literally bounced around the small office.
“Your boy looks like he could play a soccer game right in here,” Ruth said.
“Yeah, he is a wee bit excited,” Phil agreed.
They then took off for Centralia. They went to the sporting goods store, which was owned by the father of Hunter, a former baseball player of Larry and Phil. Hunter attended Central Washington University and was off for the summer. He was pleased to see his old coaches.
Larry told Hunter what they were looking for. Aiden wanted sports posters to decorate the walls of his bedroom, and he needed cleats, and shin pads, and other necessary equipment for soccer. Hunter laid out the red carpet for the young boy. By the time he was finished, Aiden had everything he wanted and needed and then some. Aiden thought the big college athlete was one of the most awesome guys he’d ever met.
They went to the food court for lunch, Aiden chattering away about soccer and how he couldn’t believe he was really on a team. Larry and Phil enjoyed his enthusiasm, knowing that the switch could flip at any time and his cute visage would cloud with a sullen scowl.
After lunch, they hit Highway 12 east and headed back to Mayfield. Aiden nodded off in the back and the ride home was a quiet one. When they got home Aiden became wide awake when he found out he could go swimming until dinner time.
“I have to call Gordy, first, and tell him I’m on the Bobcats.” Phil gave Aiden Gordon’s number, but Aiden froze before dialing it.
“What’s wrong?” Phil asked.
“What if he doesn’t want me on his team? What if he was lying and he doesn’t want to be my friend?”
“Gordon wouldn’t lie about any of that. After all, playing soccer on his team was his idea, right?”
“Yeah, I guess.” The phone call was a quick one with Gordon being as excited about the news as Aiden was. Aiden felt relieved as he bolted up the stairs to put on his swimming trunks.
Phil provided the adult supervision for Aiden, such as it was. The two spent most of the time engaged in dunking matches and mock wrestling matches. Both of them were laughing and near exhaustion by the time they finished. Aiden found himself enjoying the body contact with his uncle, not in a sexual way, but in a way that made him feel safe and liked by a man—something that had never been part of his life.
After they finished in the pool, they retreated to the basement shower room and undressed. Before taking off his swimming trunks, Phil asked his nephew if he was okay with their being naked.
“I can wait outside until you shower and leave,” Phil told him. “There simply will be times when we’re going to see one another naked for some reason or other. But the trunks have to come off so nobody drips water upstairs into the house.”
“It’s okay if you take off your trunks. I don’t mind.”
Aiden had seen some of his mother’s boyfriends naked, so the size of equipment on a man did not surprise him. This wouldn’t the first time he had ever seen a naked man close up and standing close to him. Considering his fears regarding his gay uncles, he was nonplussed about his uncle’s nudity. The fact that his uncle had asked his permission before pulling off his trunks was a factor.
On the other hand, Aiden found himself to be very shy about disrobing in front of his uncle. One reason was his fear that his uncle would find him wanting in some way because of the small size of his genitals. The other was the nagging fear that his uncles really did want to rape him and were waiting for him to get naked so it would be easier for them. This was different from getting naked with Gordy—that had been fun. Getting naked in front of his uncle suddenly seemed scary.
Phil saw Aiden’s hesitation and sensed the boy’s discomfort. He quickly rinsed off the chlorine, grabbed a towel, dried himself, and wrapped the towel around his waist. “I’ll catch you upstairs. Don’t forget to hang your trunks up to dry this time.” That was something he and Gordon hadn’t done after their shower the day before. Phil wasn’t pleased about having to pick the swimsuits off of the floor.
As soon as Phil disappeared at the top of the stairs, Aiden pulled off his trunks and stepped under the shower spray. He wondered if his uncle really would have raped him if he’d gotten naked with him in the shower. Then he thought about the wrestling match in the pool between him and his Uncle Phil. The only time his uncle had ever his touched cock or balls was an accidental elbow hitting him in the balls, which made him begin to think that Parker and Luke were both a couple of fucktards who were lying about his uncles. While he still didn’t fully trust them, he was feeling better about their intentions.
Dinner was macaroni and cheese that Phil had made up quickly from scratch. He threw in some hamburger bits for protein. Larry had already made up a mixed green salad for veggies.
After dinner, Larry and Aiden cleaned the dining room and the kitchen. Although Larry and Phil generally ate at the kitchen table, they decided that with Aiden in the family, dinner would be eaten at the dining room table. Phil then announced that it was reading time, which Aiden did not object to. He was close to finishing “Hoot” and was happy to have some time to read. Phil and Larry each sat in their reading/TV recliners while Aiden stretched out on part of the sectional.
After devoting forty minutes to reading, Larry turned on the big screen TV and tuned it to the Mariners game. Aiden set down his book and sat up, kicking out the footrest on the end section. He placed the book on his lap.
Aiden liked watching baseball but wasn’t always sure about some of the finer points of the game. Knowing that his uncles coached the sport, he starting asking a long string of questions during the game which they patiently answered. Phil and Larry were both pleased with Aiden’s interest in baseball; they felt that would be a necessity for happy living in their house.
The Angels beat the Mariners 5-3. As soon as the game ended, Aiden announced he was going to bed.
“I want to go right to sleep,” Aiden said. “That way my birthday will come sooner.”
“That sounds logical to me,” Larry smiled.
Aiden skipped up the stairs. About ten minutes later he appeared on the landing wearing only his briefs announcing that he had brushed, flossed, and peed and was now heading into bed. He was starting a routine by letting his uncles know that he was ready to be tucked in.
Phil and Larry watched him disappear into the upstairs hallway. “I am beginning to think the boy likes being tucked in,” Phil observed.
“Which means he’s still a bit of a distance from puberty,” Larry chuckled.
“Thank God. I’d hate to have had to deal with this morning’s attitude if he was thirteen. I don’t know if the results would have been quite as favorable.”
“The good news is, when he turns thirteen we’ll have had four years to establish protocols—if the system lets us keep him that long.”
“I can’t imagine where else he would go.” Phil got out of his chair. “I’ll do the tucking honors tonight.” He headed up the stairs to Aiden’s room. The young boy is certainly posing a challenge, he thought, and Larry seemed to hit the nail on the head—the challenge was only going to become greater as he entered puberty.
When he arrived in Aiden’s room he found the boy snug under the blankets. Phil grinned internally when he saw a pair of white underpants on the floor just short of the dirty laundry hamper—his nephew seemed to have already discovered the joy of sleeping in the nude, unless he changed into a fresh pair of briefs. Phil doubted that was the case—after all, what self-respecting boy changed his underpants to sleep in and he knew that Aiden hadn’t had any pajamas in his boxes.
“Good night, sport,” Phil said as he ruffled the thick shock of blond hair.
“Night, Uncle Phil,” Aiden murmured sleepily.
“Do you want me to read to you tonight?”
“I keep telling you I’m too old for that, so you can quit asking.”
“Just checking to see if you changed your mind.”
“If I change my mind, I’ll tell you.”
“Fair enough,” Phil agreed as he tugged a corner of the bedcover over Aiden’s bare shoulder. “Don’t forget to keep your clothes off of the floor.”
Aiden looked across the room and blushed when he saw he’d missed the hamper when he’d tossed his underpants across the room. Now Uncle Phil knows I sleep naked, he thought, and he’s going to tell Uncle Larry.
After Phil turned off the ceiling light and closed the door, Aiden turned on his back and looked up towards the dark ceiling. I don’t care if they know or not, he thought, tomorrow is my birthday and I’ll be nine years old. That means I’m grown up enough to sleep without any clothes on.
Once again, Aiden thought about the bad things said about his uncles because they were gay, or queer, or faggots, or whatever it was they were supposed to be. He didn’t think they were going to rape him like Parker said. In fact, Parker was the one who tried to touch his butt and his wiener. He decided one more time that Parker and Luke were fucktards and that his uncles were really nice and that he trusted them, even if they were weird and married to each other.
But, he couldn’t help but wonder if living with Uncle Troy would be better. His young mind wasn’t as desperate about living with his other uncle as it had been when his uncles had come to pick him up from Luke’s house. He thought about his life being better if he lived with an uncle who was normal.
Then his mind switched back to his birthday. He had a feeling that his birthday the next day along with his party on Saturday would make his ninth birthday the best of his life. That was his last thought as he fell into a deep sleep.
Phil and Larry were instantly jarred out of their sleep when around sixty pounds of boy dropped onto their bed. Phil looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand and moaned when he saw that it read 6:30.
“Good morning uncles—guess what today is?” a now familiar soprano chirped.
“It must be Halloween,” Phil mumbled. “I’ve been woken up by a zombie or something.” He saw that Aiden was clad in nothing but the pair of white briefs he had tossed on the floor the night before. At least he put something on, Phil thought, aware that he and Larry were both naked. Looks like he would need to let Aiden know that the knocking on the door to maintain privacy rule worked both ways.
“No, silly—it’s my birthday,” Aiden laughed.
It was nice to see the boy in such good spirits, and he had no plans to puncture his balloon, at least for now.
“Did you know it was his birthday, Larry?” Phil asked, cognizant of the fact that Larry was awake as well.
“No I didn’t,” Larry replied. “Nobody told me that young zombies had birthdays.”
“I’m not a zombie, I’m a boy,” Aiden insisted. “And I told you it was my birthday today when you picked me up from Luke’s house.”
“Oh, that was you who told us about the birthday.” Phil pried his eyes open with his fingers and stared at the boy sitting cross-legged on the bed. Even in the ambient light of the room, Aiden could see what his uncle was doing. “Larry, I think we have a boy on our bed instead of a zombie.”
Larry flicked on his nightstand light. “Oh my, so it is. And a very cute boy as well, even with his hair flying everywhere.”
“I am not cute,” Aiden said. “I’m nine and I’m too old to be cute.”
“Well, pardon me,” Larry grinned. “Happy birthday, handsome.”
Aiden broke out in his beautiful, wide grin. Phil grabbed Aiden and rolled him on his back, giving him a noogie. “Happy birthday, Aiden.” Phil started tickling the boy’s bare belly, causing him to break out into wild laughter.
“Stop, you’re making me laugh,” he coughed out between gasps of laughter.
“Nothing wrong with a good laugh on your birthday.” Phil eased off on his tickling to allow Aiden to catch his breath.
“Can I get in the bed with you?” Aiden asked.
“Well, we’d let you, but your Uncle Larry and I sleep in the nude,” Phil told his nephew in the spirit of openness and honesty.
“So? I sleep naked, too,” Aiden confessed. “You mean I can never get into bed with you?”
“How about we make a rule.”
“Another rule? This place has more rules than my last school did.”
“This is a simple one. Since we promised to knock before coming into your room so that you have your privacy, how about you promise to knock before coming into our room? That gives us our privacy, too. If you knock before barging in, then we can put something on and you can snuggle up next to us in bed if you want.”
“How about you put something on now so I can snuggle?”
Larry grinned at Aiden’s insisting on a snuggle as he pulled back the covers and padded over to his dresser, pulling out a pair of gym shorts. He opened Phil’s drawer and pulled out a pair for him.
“Uncle Larry is naked,” Aiden said as Larry pulled on his gym shorts and tossed the other pair to Phil.
“Remember what I told you,” Phil said. “We’re going to be seeing each other naked sometimes since we all live in the same house. If it doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t bother us.”
“Then why do you have to put on pants for me to snuggle in bed?”
“Because it’s the right thing to do.”
Aiden shrugged and asked if it was okay for him to get under the covers. Larry told him to get into the bed between them. Aiden crawled over Phil and then squeezed in between his two uncles as Phil finished jerking on his gym shorts.
“This is warm and cozy,” Aiden sighed contentedly. “I promise to knock whenever I come in so I can do this again.”
“Unless it’s an emergency,” Larry said, “like if you’re sick or something. Then just come in and let us take care of you.”
“Did you get me nice presents?” Aiden asked.
“We think so,” Larry said as he stroked Aiden’s unruly blond hair.
“What did you get?”
“You’ll learn that when we get out of bed.”
“I want to birthday snuggle first,” Aiden said as he almost purred with contentment at being squeezed in between his uncles.
“We can give you one present right now,” Larry told Aiden.
“What?” Aiden’s voice sounded sleepy.
“Our love, which is a present you’ll get 24/7 every day of the week.”
“Happy birthday, Aiden,” Phil whispered. “Uncle Larry and I love you.”
Aiden let out a quiet moan and drifted off to sleep, the young boy feeling safe for the first time in what seemed like years. Larry fell back to sleep as well, while Phil took in the fresh smell of boy and the soft touch of warm, smooth skin.
Sure the boy has his rough edges, Phil thought. But then, so did Larry and I. He slowly rubbed his nephew’s rising and falling chest. But we’re going to love him with all of our hearts and smooth out those edges. Phil fell asleep, as well, with the realization that he was blessed to have the two people he was sharing the bed within his life.
It was almost eight-thirty when the three of them arose. Larry headed downstairs to start breakfast. Aiden went to his room, grabbed a pair of dark blue briefs with red trim and went into the hall bathroom to shower. Phil put on a t-shirt and went downstairs to join Larry.
Aiden joined his uncles as Larry prepared breakfast. He was wearing just the dark blue briefs and a pair of white socks. “Since it’s my birthday, can I just wear this today?”
“Just for today,” Phil agreed.
Aiden grinned his approval of the decision. “When do I get my presents?” he asked.
“Patience, sport,” Larry admonished him. “A good breakfast sets up a good day.”
Aiden said nothing but watched as Larry dipped a couple of slices of bread into batter and dropped them onto the hot griddle. “Goodie, French toast, just like I asked. This is going to be a great birthday.”
After they finished eating, Aiden helped clean the kitchen, chirping on about getting his presents. Phil reminded him he already had some with his new clothes and his posters, as well as his soccer gear.
After everything was cleaned up they retired to the sunroom which, at the moment, was aptly named as the morning sun glistened off of the lake. Larry and Phil brought Aiden’s presents out from behind the big desk. Aiden then reveled in his new X-Box, his Monopoly game, and his chess set.
But, he was most excited about the box set of books he unwrapped. They contained the four books in the “Hoot” series by Carl Hiaasen: “Chomp”, “Flush”, “Hoot”, and “Scat”.
“This is so awesome and cool,” Aiden grinned. “I can hardly wait to start reading them.” He thought for a moment and then said, “But I already have ‘Hoot’. I’m almost finished with it.”
“Well, now you have a copy for each eye,” Larry pointed out.
Aiden nodded and then gave Larry a look that said, you’ve gotta be kidding me. “You guys like to tease me. First I was a zombie and now I can go read two books at the same time.”
“Get used to it,” Phil informed him. “Your Uncle Larry likes to tease everybody.”
“You’re the one who said I was a zombie,” Aiden pointed out.
“Guilty as charged.”
After telling Aiden that there was one more big present from all three of his uncles that he would be receiving at his birthday party, they got dressed. Larry took Aiden for a ride around the lake on the boat. Larry had to put in some time at school. Phil told Aiden he could waterski the next day. “We want you to be reasonably fresh for your first soccer practice.” He also wanted a second person to be a spotter and a helper as well.
He did let Aiden swim some, however. After lunch he helped Aiden get ready for soccer practice. He and Larry had played soccer as boys and knew how to get the best look and use out of their pads.
Aiden loved his soccer practice. His young coach had the right combination of positive thinking and the discipline needed to remain in charge of a group of rambunctious nine-and-ten-year-olds. Larry was able to leave school in time to watch the practice with Phil. It was obvious that the coach knew what he was doing. They also saw that Aiden was fitting right in with his new teammates.
After they took Aiden home. He showered and got into his new slacks and button-down sports shirt, they headed for Centralia and dinner at the Steak House. Larry and Phil were both amused by Aiden’s non-stop chatter about what he’d learned in his first soccer practice.
Phil was pleased that their waiter at the Steak House was Peter. Peter had started there when he was a student at the junior college. He ended up getting a full-time job as a dispatcher with the Centralia, Clark Pass, and Pacific Railroad. But he still worked as a waiter at the restaurant two days a week because he enjoyed the work, and liked the extra money.
Phil knew that Peter had a way with boys and suspected he might even be a closet boy lover, like himself. Phil and Larry were both pleased to see Peter work his magic with Aiden.
“Who is this fine young man, coaches?” he asked Larry and Phil.
Phil introduced Aiden to Peter and told him who he was. Aiden let Peter know about his special day.
“Turning nine is special,” Peter said. “What will you be having for your birthday dinner?”
Aiden pointed to what he had been eyeing in the children’s menu. “I would like the hamburger and fries, please.” Larry and Phil grinned inwardly as they observed Aiden’s polite demeanor. They had been drilling proper restaurant etiquette into him and it appeared to be paying off.
Phil was about to suggest that Aiden might want to upgrade his selection when Peter did his job as a waiter. “An excellent choice, Aiden. We have the finest burgers in the county. Might I suggest you also have a side salad to help maintain healthy bones and muscles in your fine looking body.”
“Sure, I’ll have a salad…I mean, I’ll have a salad, please.” Aiden looked at his uncles for approval, which he received.
After dinner was finished, Peter brought out a cupcake with a candle and he, Larry, and Phil sang happy birthday to a grinning young boy.
On the drive home, Phil and Larry could see Aiden’s energy level start to wane. They weren’t surprised when Aiden said he was going to bed. They hoped it would be this easy to get the boy to bed when school started. Aiden headed up the stairs for his room.
Ten minutes later he appeared on the landing, wearing only his birthday suit, appropriately enough. Aiden wanted his uncles to know he was grown up enough to sleep without any clothes on. “I am ready to be tucked in,” he announced. “I want both of you to tuck me in.”
When Larry and Phil entered the bedroom, Aiden was already under the covers. “I wanted to see you both,” the new nine-year-old told them. “This was my best birthday ever.” He took a long pause and his uncles saw a look of sadness cross his face. “I wish my mother could have been here though. I miss my mom.”
Phil wrapped his arm around Aiden’s torso and lifted him up to a sitting position on the bed. He gave his nephew a tight hug. “It’s okay to miss her,” he told the boy, gently. “I’m sure that she was looking down at you and was happy to see you having such a fun birthday.”
“Do you really think so?” Aiden looked at Phil with large, innocent eyes.
“Do you think so, too, Uncle Larry?”
“I’m just as positive as Uncle Phil,” Larry answered.
“What is Uncle Troy bringing me on Saturday?” Larry and Phil knew that Aiden had made the sudden switch in topics to take him away from something unpleasant. They also knew that they eventually were going to have to work their nephew through that unpleasantness.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if we told you today,” Larry answered.
“But today is my birthday, so you have to tell me,” he pleaded.
“Uncle Troy wants you to be surprised, so let’s see if we can make him happy.”
“Okay,” he said sulkily.
Phil eased Aiden back down on the bed. He’d thought that the boy was going to break down and cry. He knew Aiden needed a good cry, but was happy it hadn’t happened on his birthday. Phil thought the boy’s momentary sadness had been a healthy thing, however.
Larry replaced Phil on the bed. He petted Aiden’s head as he told him good-night. “We love you, son.”
“Good night, uncles. Thank you for my presents and my dinner and for making my birthday fun.”
“I love you, Aiden,” Phil said as he turned off the light and closed the door.
Aiden fell asleep, feeling happy about his day, but still with a hint of sadness as thoughts about his mother crossed his mind.
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