This is a work of fiction.
We swam until it was time for lunch.
The hotel restaurant was quite busy, and we had to wait for a table.
“I’m starving,” Freckles said.
“Me too,” Lydia said.
“No you’re not,” Sammy said. “Starving means you don’t ever get any food.”
“It does mean you don’t have enough to eat,” I said, “but people also say it when they feel very much like eating.”
“Hey look! It’s the olympic diving champ!”
We turned around, and there stood Roger, Simon, and their mom.
Their mom said, “I think it would make more sense if we switched places in line, don’t you?”
“Pardon me?” I said.
“My boys are starving. Let us go first.”
“Yeah,” Roger said, rubbing his tummy. “Simon and me spent like two hours lifting weights.”
Simon flexed his biceps.
Before I could say anything, a member of staff rushed up to us.
For a second, I thought she was coming to talk to me, but she smiled at the boys’ mom and told her a table was free.
The boys pushed by us, and their mom followed.
“That’s not fair,” Freckles said.
Over his shoulder, Roger said, “Wait your turn, champ.”
The staff person calld, “It won’t be long.”
“I know, but I think we’ll take our business elsewhere. McDonald’s sounds about right.”
Freckles and Sammy cheered.
We spent part of the afternoon swimming, and the rest of it taking naps so the kids wouldn’t be tired after dinner.
We didn’t see the boys or their mother, but Curly heard about them.
We’d finished swimming and were on the way up to our rooms.
“You know the lifeguard?”
“He got fired.”
“Why?” Freckles said.
Curly said, “Adelle, those boys’ mom, pepper-sprayed him and said it was because he trying to . . . like, you know . . . feel her up.”
“Like Andy?” Sammy said.
“What?” Curly said.
“That guy Andy we met at camp.”
“What do you mean?”
“He tried to feel me up. Where can I get pepper spray?”
He spoke casually, as if talking about such things were easy.
Curly looked very upset.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “Jake and Andy are really nice guys.”
“You can’t tell by looking,” Sammy said.
“I know that, but I talked a lot to Andy and spent a lot of time with him.”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
Curly was silent for a few seconds, and then he said, “Yes. You didn’t like him or his kids. You’re acting just like those boys’ mom.”
Sammy looked stunned, and before any of us could possibly come up with a response, Curly was walking ahead of us.
I’d given him a key to the boys’ room, and by the time we got there, he was in bed, appearing to be sound asleep.
I didn’t get any sleep, and I don’t think Curly or Sammy got much, but Lydia and Freckles looked wide awake when it was time to look for dinner.
I’d spent the time trying to think of what to do, but in the end, I decided not to bring up the topic of Andy or the boys’ mother.
“Should we go out somewhere?” I asked.
“Can we eat here?” Freckles asked. “I’m starving.”
It was early, and I doubted the boys and their mom would be there.
I was right.
Curly flipped through the menu and said, “Can I try ribs?”
“Of course. Half a rack?”
“If they’re good, I’d like a full rack,” he said. “Is that okay?”
“Sure. What about you, Freckles?”
“Can I try them too?” He smiled at his eldest brother. “I’d like a full rack, just like Curly.”
I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to eat them all, but I smiled and agreed.
“Ribs are dead meat. So gross.” He poked Freckles in the ribs. “You want to eat that?”
“Sammy, stop fooling around. What would you like for dinner?”
He looked at the menu.
“A veggie burger.”
“Are you having anything else with it?”
“Fries and Coke.”
I loked at the menu.
The ribs came with a choice of sides.
“I forgot to ask what you two would like with your ribs.”
Curly wanted a baked potato, and Freckles chose mashed potatoes. Both boys requested chocolate milk and water.
I suggested some vegetables, and Freckles and Curly agreed, but Sammy shook his head.
Lydia selected a pasta dish with garlic bread.
I read the descriptin and ordered the same.
I got coffee, and Lydia asked for water.
When the food arrived, we all tucked in, except for Sammy, who took one bite of his veggie burger and made a disgusted face. He picked up a fry and didn’t appear to relish it, either. He opened the Coke and drained it.
When it was gone, he looked at our rapidly-disappearing food and then at his full plate.
I was about to ask him if he wanted to order something else, when Adelle, Simon, and Roger came in.
The table beside ours was available, and they came directly to it.
“Hi,” Sammy said to the two boys.
“Hey,” Roger said. “What’s your name?”
“Sam. Can I sit with you guys?”
“Sure,” Roger said.
Sammy got up and walked over, leaving his full plate behind.
“Thanks,” he said. “I get so sick of listening to him.” He pointed to Freckles.
A server hurried to their table.
“Good evening,” he said. “What would you like?”
“Come back later,” Adelle said. “Any idiot can see we haven’t even opened our menus yet.”
Sammy, Simon, and Roger all laughed, and the server apologized and came over to our table.
He saw Sammy’s full plate and said, “Would you like me to take that?”
“Yes please. We’re very much enjoying our dinner. Thank you for the prompt service and delicious food.”
I spoke louder than necessary to make sure Roger and Simon heard how you were supposed to treat people. I doubted I could undo the damage their mother had already done to their personalities, but it never hurt to try.
“Is she your sister?” Simon asked, pointing at Lydia.
“What do you mean?” Roger asked.
Adelle was looking at the menu, but I sensed she was listening to the boys’ conversation.
“Her dad and our mom got married, but he’s a gambler, and they’re getting divorced. He spent so much of our money, we’ll have to move to a tiny apartment.”
Something was very wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I took a bite of my pasta and realized I was no longer hungry.
Adelle said, “What a shame. I couldn’t live in an apartment, especially not a tiny one.”
“It’s fine with me,” Sammy said. “It means we can’t keep the dogs and cats.”
He must have overheard me talkng to Stacey. Not good, but at least that explained how he knew.
But something at the back of my mind nagged.
I told myself to forget about it, and made a mental note to make sure Sammy couldn’t overhear my private conversations.
“What are you doing later?” Sammy asked.
“Dunno,” Roger said.
Simon said, “Probably just hang around.”
“I’m going to a party,” Adelle said.
“Yeah,” Roger said. “So boring.”
Adelle said, “Did I tell you she has a diving board?”