Tale of a Squirrel
Vin came in the mudroom with a plastered chocolate faced grinned. "Well, Josiah. We didn't burn the place down!"
"I did take noticed to that when I walked in the door." Josiah touched the corner of his mouth and darted his finger to different spots. "You have a spot of chocolate there and there and there."
Vin raised the hem of his t-shirt and begun to rub his face with the cloth quite viciously. "Did I get it?"
Josiah eyes darted across his younger brother's face, noticing all the chocolate that Vin missed. "Suppose it won't matter. You can wash up afterwards. Right now though, I would love to know what happened to my kitchen."
"I figured as much but you know, we ever intended on causing all the mess in there." Vin raised his hand and fluttered it towards the door that lead to the kitchen. "It just, well kind of happened that way."
"But which way is that, Vin?" Josiah questioned as he rubbed his bearded face. "From JD I get a little idea of what happened. You guys were playing poker upstairs." Josiah pointed upward and Vin quickly shook his head. "You guys trapped a squirrel, some stray cat came bolting through and chased Ezra downstairs into the kitchen where he hid in the pantry."
"JD said all that?" Vin forehead wrinkled as he scrunched up his face. "Wasn't at all what happen. I mean sort of but nope, not at all."
"How can it be sort of but not at all? There must be some truth in what he had told me, don't you agree?" Josiah didn't give Vin time to answer. "Now Ezra, well he wasn't all that helpful either and the thing is, if this was all an honest accident." Josiah put his hands up in a shrug. "I can't see why punishing anyone. I already have you guys cleaning the mess up. So help me out, Vin. Do I have reason to be angry, do I have reason never to let you three alone for an hour or two or can I trust you three?"
Vin took a deep breath and leaned back against the chair he sat upon and gave his the back of his head a small scratched as he tossed the ordeal about in his mind. "You can trust us Josiah. We never wanted this to happen. I mean, I'm no fortune teller or anything but we didn't mean to do anything wrong. So I suppose, I wouldn't know if things like this would happen again. I would never had thought it would happen in the first time. If someone had told me what I am about to tell you, well I would be thinking they were fibbing or something. You know? See when you left..."
Ezra had went to the balcony to watch his father pull out of the drive. Vin had joined him, leaning on the railing with his arms braced on the top of the beam, his hands clasped in front of him.
"It's nice out here." Vin's eyes scanned the small town at a distant. From their view point, one could see the tiny town, the townsfolk people walking passed the small shops, and their automobiles going back and forth but you couldn't hear the sounds the town made. It was like someone had press the mute button.
"It would be nicer if it wasn't for that offensive building obstructing the view of the garden." Ezra muttered with a glare to the white trimmed outhouse.
"The old outhouse?" Vin's blue gaze shot to the slim little building that was now turned into a small tool shed. Josiah had painted it grey with white trim to match the house and Vin had been inside to get some gas for the mower as well as a shovel and rake. Not much could be stored in there but it was handy. "I don't know, Ez. That outhouse is as old as this house. It kind of belongs. Gives it charm, isn't that what people say? Character or something along that line?"
"It's a damn shit house, Vin. Nothing more and has long passed it's usage." Ezra pointed in it's direction. "All it stands for is how uncivilized this small town had been in it's history. Why, I doubt that I would be surprised if there were still these...monstrosities being used by our good neighbors."
"Nellie still has a working one. Comes in handy when you are all covered in work dust and don't want to dirty her clean floor." Vin grinned at first but there was a shadow that passed over Ezra's face that stopped that easy grin from forming completely. "Ez..."
"Why, if he would take that down it, he could put some small tables and chairs. Just a few. People could have their coffee or tea down there and actually enjoy it."
"What people?" Vin looked at his nephew. "It's only you three living here."
"So that may be however I have been thinking and I have been trying to convince Josiah to open a small business at the estate. This quaint little town is inhabited with old, crones and well, it would give them a local and convent place to gather about and enjoy their gossip. Josiah could profit from it. The back of the home could even be a wedding venue. Maybe even rent out a room for a bed and breakfast. It's a rather large house and a shame not to take advantage of the possibilities."
Vin nodded, the idea seemed possible but there was one problem. "You tasted Josiah's pastries and you tasted his coffee. I can't see people paying to eat or drink that stuff. He wouldn't get them to even if he payed them!"
"I do admit that my cooking skills need improvement but there is nothing wrong with my coffee." Josiah interrupted.
"Josiah." Vin put a finger to his lip to indicate for him to hush. "Just let me tell the story."
"I admit there is that issue however, I pride myself as being a problem solver so I am sure I..." Ezra and Vin looked over their shoulders, into the bedroom when they heard thumping noises.
JD was bouncing on Ezra's bed. Thankfully he wasn't wearing shoes but Vin inwardly groaned.
Ezra's room was spotless. Everything had a place and Ezra made sure it was exactly where it was suppose to be, in it's place. What was the point of having a place for stuff if you didn't put it in it's place, he had once told Vin in seeing the other boy's room.
Ezra didn't have a lot of stuff, which Vin thought was odd. He had clothes, he had video games and board games and a few books but that was it. And his bed, well Vin thought it could be on the cover of a magazine with fluffed up pillows and thick bright blue and white quilts. It all matched. It look super puffy, kind of made you want to take a nap in it or in JD's case, jump on it. It was no wonder Ezra never wanted to get up in the mornings.
"JD!" Ezra yanked the younger boy off his bed but not so roughly to hurt him. "What are you doing to my bed? I sleep on that! I don't want your feet all over it!"
"It's bouncy, Ez!" JD shrugged. "I couldn't help myself. You should try it."
"Certainly not." Ezra shook his head. "That's what the trampoline is for not my bed!"
Vin cuffed the back of his brother's head. "Idiot."
"Am not." JD rubbed his head. "Stop hitting or I'm telling mom."
"She would ask why I hit you and I would tell her than she would ask you, why you were jumping on someone's bed. That you know better than that so you go on and tell her. What do you think will happen?"
Ezra started to smooth out his bed, only pausing when JD picked up his bedside table clock. It was pretty neat with gears that showed and thick wooden base. Real wood at that. Though, Vin was surprised how light it was with that much being made out of solid wood. It had him thinking that maybe it was hollow inside.
"Monopoly!" JD raced over to reach for his favorite game. "Let's play!"
"No." Vin and Ezra said at the exact same time.
"That game takes forever and I'm not making that kind of commitment." Vin explained to his brother.
"We could practice poker?" Ezra suggested.
"I got no money, Ez." Vin shook his head.
JD went to the pockets of his jeans, pulling out a few dollar bills. "I have a little."
"Gentlemen. Gentlemen." Ezra shook his head while walking over to a ceramic container on top of is dresser.
JD looked around the room before pointing to himself and mouthing 'Us?' to Vin, who gave him a sarcastic head shake.
"I said practice not play." Ezra scooped up the container and the cards before going to the middle of the floor and sitting cross legged. "We can use the candy in substitute of currency."
Vin sat beside Ezra on the floor, plucking a chocolate covered mint out of the dish, unwrapping it and stuffing it in his mouth before Ezra had time to pull the dish out of his reach.
"You are going to be broke before we even play." Ezra handed JD the dish. "JD you pass the candy out evenly, well minus one from Vin. He foolishly wasted his token." Ezra ignored Vin's tongue being stuck out at him. "I will shuffle and Vin, try not to eat any more of your currency. I want you to at least last through a few hands. Hell, maybe by the time you all are old enough to play with real cash, it will be some what of a challenge for me to win your money."
"Har-har." JD rolled his eyes but started to pass the candy around while Ezra shifted the deck in his hands as it was made out of sand seeping through is fingers so easily.
"Now, Josiah." Vin broke his story telling and looked seriously at Josiah. "We weren't playing poker. Just practicing. It's like when people practice for football. It doesn't count as a real game. Or a pre-test, don't matter what you score because it was a practice test. Not the real deal so the grade doesn't matter. That was all we were doing. Just practicing. Ezra refused JD's money straight out."
Josiah gave a deep sigh. "I rather you guys would steer clear of the game completely."
"I bet there was a lot of stuff Dad had wanted you to steer clear of too and I bet we aren't doing any of that." Vin argued. "Just don't want Ez to be in trouble when, well he wasn't doing wrong."
"I will consider it. And I will remember that he did refuse to play with money." Josiah was silently thinking the heaven above that his boy wasn't taking advantage of JD. It was progress. Yet, he couldn't let Vin know that. He had to play the father figure. "Why don't you continue on, son."
The two boys had watched as Ezra fanned out the cards and tilt them neatly backwards and into a split with a single finger. "Where did you learn to shuffle like that anyways?" Vin asked.
"Someone taught me when I was very young." The corner of Ezra's lips curled in thought, in memories. Vin thought he would continue but whatever Ezra's mind saw in the past, he wasn't sharing it. "And I practice all the time! Now boys, deuces are wild in this game!" And he processed to deal the cards.
They played a hand or two, Vin ate most of his currency and created a chocolate facial mask before the fourth hand was played but JD had stopped the game and pointed out the french doors of the balcony.
"Is that a mountain lion!" He asked as a large stripped cat blinked at them through the door. JD's eyes were the size of sauces and he was pointing wildly at the french doors.
Ezra's, who back was facing the doors, shifted so he could see. "That there is my new roommate."
"Josiah got you a cat?" Vin looked surprised. "You never said."
"No he did not get me a cat." Ezra stood up and went to the door. "It started coming in during the nights. I noticed it's shed fur on my bed sheets. It's rather annoying. Then one late night, it joined me when I was out on the balcony. Been coming ever since."
"It's a Maine Coon. Or a mixed of a Maine Coon. The old ladies had a few of them running around. Maybe it's one of their offspring?" Vin offered with a thought, thinking about how the previous owners lavished on their felines.
"I never seen a cat so big before!" JD started to get up as well but Ezra gestured for him to stay put.
"You move too quick and it'll run away. As it is somewhat familiar with me, allow me to see if it will introduce it's self to the both of you." Ezra slowly started to open the french door to let the cat inside his bedroom.
"Ez! Don't! It has something in it's mouth!" Vin warned him. "I think it's a squirrel!"
But Ezra had already opened the door and the cat trotted inside, putting the very much alive squirrel at Ezra's feet.
"No!" Ezra shouted as the squirrel took off and headed towards the door that of Ezra's bedroom, that still hung open.
It flew out of the room. The cat took chase, Ezra followed with Vin quickly behind him and JD a little further behind.
The lot ran down stairs, the squirrel trying to find an escape route but having to dodge the Maine Coon at every ideal spot. Eventually, they found themselves in the kitchen.
Josiah had left the pantry door open and the squirrel took shelter inside. The cat and Ezra both went in after it.
Chaos broke out. Ezra was trying to herd the squirrel out while keeping the cat off the shelving units. It was an impossible feat. Items were being knocked over, can goods were rolling over the floor. Ezra fell twice over a rolling can of soup. The squirrel knocked over a partial used sack of flour that covered Ezra and the cat in a dusty white film.
While Ezra coughed the flour out of his mouth, the squirrel took to the counter top. Vin had grabbed the cutting glove, in case he was able to catch the squirrel, he didn't want to get bitten. Safety was important.
Seeing the Squirrel jump at Vin, JD quickly took a large mixing bowl that had landed on the floor, not realizing the maple syrup had leaked into it. When JD placed it upon his head, the sugary substances dripped down his face. He wrinkled his nose and tried to wipe it away.
By now, the squirrel took to the top of the cupboards. Vin quickly went to the mud room and came back with a fishing net and working goggles but JD had slipped into the flour that was on the floor and caused Vin to fall over him, not only getting a little sticky but also getting fruit loop cereal in his hair. That was his favorite kind of cereal.
JD reached out, taking the goggles Vin had dropped and quickly placed them on. It helped to keep the maple syrup out of his eyes and see through the flour that was doing a very good impression of a blanket of fog.
By this time, Ezra had climbed onto the kitchen table and from there, jumped onto the counter tops in hopes of chasing the squirrel off the top of the cupboards and his flour caked sneakers showed his every step.
"Bring it towards me!" Vin yelled at him.
JD ran over to get the broom, knocking the spaghetti and sauce off the stove as he spun around to face Ezra and Vin, eager to help in any way he could. Luckily the food had cooled down and though it was warm, it was not hot enough to cause any pain as it splatted all around the kitchen.
"JD! Get back!" Vin yelled, pushing JD away so he could have room to move his own arms freely.
JD fell into the warm sauce and found it difficult to bounced back up. He kept sliding in the slippery red mess.
Ezra managed to chase the squirrel off the top of the cupboards and back onto the counter top towards Vin and his fishing net. Seeing that the cat was ready to bounce once more, Ezra jumped off the counter top and quickly did a home run slide, catching the cat before it caught the squirrel.
The squirrel blindly ran into the fishing net and Vin plucked it out with his steel gloved hand, happily showing the boys he had caught it.
Slowly Ezra stood up, examining the messy state he was in and the flour covered cat who swooshed it's tail next to him.
JD wore spaghetti sauce, noodles, flours, maple syrup all over. Vin however only was covered in chocolate and fruit loops. The chocolate was from his candy currency and not from the squirrel ordeal.
The place was a mess. Nearly everything in the pantry had spilled onto the floor. Ezra's footprints were everywhere. Spaghetti noodles and sauce dripped from the ceiling and slopped over the floor almost like a crime scene.
And to make it worse...
"You came through the door." Vin finished the story and eyeing Josiah's reaction.
"And I came in." Josiah agreed, trying to keep the homour from his face and his voice. How on earth could he be mad at the boys. The only thing that angered him was that he wasn't around to witness it.
"So...are we in trouble for the mess?" Vin asked.
Josiah shook his head slowly. "I believe it was all an accident and you guys do a good job cleaning it up, I won't hold any of you accountable for it."
"And practicing poker?" Vin squinted in hesitation.
"No money was exchanged?" Josiah asked.
"Nope." Vin popped his 'p'.
"Guess as long as you boys don't play with money, I am ok with it." Josiah gave a warning look. "If I ever find out differently though, there will be hell to pay. Understand?"
"Yes sir." Vin twitched his lips as if thinking. "So...do you think Ez can keep the cat?"
"Sounds as he already has." Josiah shrugged. "I need to get it to the vet though and buy some cat littler and pan and food...and dishes for it."
"Ezra took your old coffee cup and used it for a water bowl. Cat seems to like it." Vin grinned, knowing it was Josiah's favorite. "You know, that extra big one?"
"I was wondering where that had went to." Josiah frowned, knowing exactly which mug Vin was speaking about.
"Not sure where the cat pan will go. Can't see as Ezra wanting it in his room seeing how much he hates the outhouse and that is outside!"
"He reminds me daily how much he dislikes that tool-shed." Josiah chuckled standing up and stretching. "Well, off with you. Help the other boys out. I have some outside chores to do and figure out what is for dinner."
"Always pizza!" Vin offered.
"Go." Josiah ruffled his hair as he passed. Once Josiah was outside and out of hearing, he laughed until he double over. The images of the boys, the squirrel and the cat playing out in his mind was too much. He would had loved to been there to see it. Especially his extra neat son become a complete mess.
I have one more chapter for this story. Just one more and it will be done. As work goes, I am not seeing a decrease in volume so I am still on over time for the rest of the summer. I am not looking forward to 'busy' season. I'm lucky, I was and still am able to work but man- I need time off! lol so bare with me everyone. My stories will be light like this one until I can find a bit more free time.
I think this story had help me connect with Vin so there is that!
Fozrulz: Thank you so much! I was worried that with Ezra not really telling his side of the story might not catch with you all but to me, Ezra really never admits to much does he? He never denies either. Sorta swings on that fine line and will have whoever believe whatever they wish. I'm relieved to find you liked it!
Finabin: I am super thrilled that you are liking how this story is coming out! I am relieved that you found Ezra to be in character. He isn't an adult yet so he won't always be 'in character' but his foundation is there, isn't it. And since it's a AU, figured I'm allowed some leeway. I couldn't let a cat be homeless! And, though in the beginning, the cat wasn't even part of the plan but it's going to have a role to play in a future story. I have also given it a name - in the next chapter. I did some research on names so I think you may find it a fitting name coming from Ezra.
Linda: Thank you! Yeah, Ezra would drive me insane too. Just trying to get direct information from him. Seems he only does direct answers when he is annoyed after he had just gave a winded speech, doesn't it? I hope you enjoyed Vin's side of the story as well.
Kathy: Josiah is a patient man at times, isn't he. Even Josiah has a breaking point and hopefully in Ezra's solo story - I can share how it breaks and it's effect of it. With Ezra and Chaucer, I hope I can share why Ezra wasn't quick on telling Josiah about the cat.
Guest: Thank you for leaving a review! I am going to be working on Chaucer's story soon. Hopefully before July is over. I know for some it's a long time but for me having only one day off a week - it's a challenge! The latrine is going to be a big part of Ezra's solo story. I just need to get some smaller stories in before I get to that. I need to do the Indian museum as well. I hope to throw in some humor in there...but some hurt as well. Someone needs to be hurt, right?
Hope everyone enjoyed this chapter. One more chapter to go!