Stalwart

The blond haired youth sat on the edge of his seat, moving with erratic jerks and wild hand motions. The steady clicking sound penetrated the air and repetitive flashes on the screen filling his vision. The sound of an explosion followed by the metallic sound of a man screaming in agony dominated all other.

The clenched lips spat forth, “Son of a bi…”

“Randall,” the shouted, high-pitched voice cut through the length of the kitchen, the hall, and the deafening noise in the living room, bitting off the youth’s expletive. “Don’t use that language around the baby. I don’t want his first words to be swear words.” The youth turned his head and glared at the baby strapped into the bouncing seat. Randall twisted his lips and grumbled in a low voice. “And don’t you break another game controller. Those things don’t grow on trees,” the female voice said again. The baby let out a bubbling gurgle noise, smiled, tossed his arms and legs which set the chair to bouncing.

Randall glared at the baby again, shaking his head.

The TV emitted more video game combat noises and Randall jerked around while controlling his avatar on the screen. More violent noises escaped the speaker system. The explosion sound rattled the glass next to Randall. 

The female voice was just ahead of the body it was emanating from, “Turn that down. You’ll go deaf listening to noises that loud.” The woman stood with hands on hips, a smirk on her lips, and an eyebrow cocked high. “Imagine what it would be like if you were deaf and had to wear a hearing aid.”

Randal fiddled with the controller and let out a heavy, low breath,”I’m dead anyway.” The game system shut off followed by the TV.

Smiling the woman picked up the glass and other dishes near Randall, “Good. Old Ms. Fitspatrick has some work she needs done. You should go and see if you can help her.”

Randall dragged himself to his feet and stretched, “She needs to pay more than five bucks.” The tone of his voice moved with his stretch.

Stopping in mid stride, the woman tilted her head forward and looked through her widened eyes, “She is on a fixed income and you be nice.” While gently poking the boy on the nose, “And no powers.” The woman whirled around and continued on her path to the kitchen.

The boy’s pitch went higher as his hands spread out, “What!  She always wants something big and heavy moved. How’em I supposed to do that without powers?”

Before cresting the archway into the hall, the woman pursed her lips and glanced down her nose at the boy, “You know the rules. You’re in middle school and you need to act like it.”

Randall grimaced and turned to look away from the woman, “Yeah, middle school again. I used to punch strongholds open and fling heavy vehicles for miles. Not to mention I’m bullet-proof.”

The woman, returning form the kitchen with empty hands, pointed at Randall, “You are still able to do all of those things, but you need to keep your cover for now. Plus you are almost thirteen, not forty-eight. No more beer and cigars.” Randall looked at the ceiling as the woman moved through the living room picking up a jacket and some shoes. “Don’t let me catch you peeking into Gina Kyle’s bedroom again. She is old enough to be your mother.”

A grin passed over Randall’s lips as he looked down and muttered, “Fine.” Randall let his arms flop to his sides as the woman left the room. “The last three months haven’t been all that bad. At least I reset to twelve.” He beamed down at the baby held tight in the seat. “From forty-eight to twelve years beats fifty-one to eight months.” He laughed at his own joke. “Still an arch nemeses, though. I stopped your ray from spreading out, but you managed to kludge it back together in a few seconds. That was impressive. It only affected the two of us.” Bending down he tickled the infant’s chin. In a sing-song voice Randall said, “Isn’t dat wight, iddle doctor entropy. Isn’t dat wight.” The baby giggled, kicked his feet, and flailed his hands.

The smell hit him like a smack in the face. “Whoa!  Gladys – I mean Mom. Doctor Entropy – I mean Davey needs a diaper change.” Randall moved for the door and closed it shut behind him.

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