KID JOEY AND THE RESTAURANT ADVENTURE
Kid Joey tucked his fancy dress shirt into his slacks, then combed his hair. Soon he'd be leaving for Daddy's birthday party at a big, fancy restaurant.
Everybody would be there: Daddy, Mommy, Rosie, Grandma Crystal, Nana Rose, Nana Terri, Gramps Blaze, and even Mrs. Levy, their new neighbor next door.
There would be awesome food and a birthday cake, and it would make Daddy's birthday super special.
"Mommy said we have to be on our best behavior tonight, Joey," Rosie said, tucking a bit of escaping shirttail into his pants in the back. "So we have to eat everything on our plates with no fuss."
"I know, Rosie!" Joey said, a little impatient with being told the same thing for the third time. "And besides, I like more stuff than you, anyway!"
"Not," Rosie said, and before Joey could get another "too" in, she turned for the door, saying, "Mom said to wait in the living room and give Kato extra hugs."
Kato was happy to get the hugs, but sad when Rosie and Joey said "See you later," on their way out the door. He wished he'd been invited to the party. Well, actually he was welcome as far as his family was concerned, but fancy restaurants were no place for a Blue Tick Hound Mutt like Kato.
So he busied himself with chasing a spider into the corner and making it run up the wall in a grand escape from his cold, wet nose.
Then he watched it in the corner of the ceiling, wishing it would come down and play some more. Fat chance.
Daddy knew Mommy was taking him to dinner, but he didn't know about the party.
He'd been working very hard all year and for very long hours every day, even Sundays. Mommy decided to surprise him.
Everyone at the table stood and cheered when Daddy walked into the restaurant. His jaw dropped in surprise as they all called out "Happy Birthday!!"
Kid Joey and Rosie got hugged almost as many times as Daddy did, but finally they got to their seats.
Nana Terri patted the seat of the chair next to her for Kid Joey. Kid Joey gave her an extra hug, and climbed into the chair. He looked at Nana Terri, and saw that she had her fancy cloth napkin in her lap, so he took his from beneath his forks (they must think he's going to eat a lot, he has two of them, and two spoons too!) and smoothed it over his knees. Nana Terri smiled when she saw that. "Good boy, Joey! Nice that you remembered!"
Kid Joey smiled as Nana Terri kissed his cheek. She helped him find foods he liked on the menu. He didn't know he would have a choice, he thought Mom and Dad would order for him. But he was sitting next to Nana Terri, and she was at the other end of the table from Mom and Dad. He was disappointed that there were no hot dogs (he bet Dad was too!) but happily settled for breaded chicken cutlets (Nana Terri said they're a lot like chicken nuggets except a little bigger) with mashed potatoes and some green beans. Nana Terri also let him share her salad of tomato wedges and diced cucumbers in Italian dressing. He loved tomatoes and cucumbers, but his favorite was mashed potatoes. Boy, he would be all over those mashed potatoes, alright!
Hopefully they wouldn't be all over him, though. Not at the fancy-schmancy restaurant.
Rosie had told him that the food would not be "fast," that in fancy restaurants they cooked the food fresh every time. It seemed like it took forever, all the same. Twenty three minutes is a long time for a little kid to sit, even one whose Gramps Blaze had smuggled him in some Matchbox Cars for the wait. Gramps Blaze was cool, sometimes it was like he read Joey's mind. Gramps also dragged the cheese plate closer to them, and handed Joey small chunks of cheddar and swiss cheese. Rosie shook her head at the two of them, Gramps Blaze had handed Joey a couple of the little cubes, and Joey held one in each hand, nibbling (polite, little bites). What was her problem, Joey wondered, and then realized. She had her cheese cubes and some bread on a little plate near the tip of her knife. He immediately put his extra cube onto the plate and she turned her attention back to Grandma Crystal, who was showing her how to fold the napkin into a pretty fan shape.
Gramps smiled at Joey's display of manners, and loaded a couple more cheese cubes, and a slice of fancy, hard-crust bread onto his little plate.
Then he started talking about fishing like he always did, and Joey laughed at some of the tales. Rosie would no doubt write them down in her journal later.
Finally a waiter and a waitress showed up, each carrying big trays up over their shoulders. The waiter made his way down one side of the table, gently sitting plates before Mom, Grandma Crystal, Mrs. Levy, and Gramps Blaze while the waitress moved down the opposite side of the table serving Daddy, Nana Rose, Nana Terri, and Kid Joey.
Chicken cutlets are not just like chicken nuggets, but Kid Joey thought they were A-Okay just the same. Nana Terri helped him cut them up, and there was some kind of sauce on them that was sweet. They were pretty good. And then he saw it, and gasped.
Just as he was about to dig his fork (not his teaspoon - he'd remembered that too) into his mound of mashed potatoes, a fly crashed into the side of them. His jaw dropped.
"You'd better close that mouth, partner! You'll be catching flies in there!"
Kid Joey's head snapped toward Gramps Blaze. How did he know about the fly already?!
He closed his mouth, and took a closer look at the fly. It seemed distressed, trying to dig itself out of the potatoes, and Kid Joey wanted to help it, but he looked around the table. No one else was digging flies out of their food. Why did this have to happen to him, especially when he was doing so well with the whole manners thing. Ugh!
He tried to scoop away the part of the mashed potatoes with the fly on it, but not only did he not know what to do with a blob of mashed potatoes if he scooped it off his plate, but just as the edge of the spoon made contact with the edge of the potatoes, he heard it: The fly screamed, "No! Don't eat me!!"
Kid Joey's eyes widened, and he leaned down close to the edge of the plate where the fly was stuck in the gooey potatoes. Luckily he had a teeny weeny little voice, or Nana Terri would have heard him. Gramps Blaze, wouldn't, he could hardly hear anything - which was kindof cool because Kid Joey could use his outside voice all the time with Gramps Blaze without getting corrected for it. Gramps Blaze was fun!
But right now outside voices were out of the question. Why did this silly fly have to land in his potatoes? Why?
"Don't eat me!" it kept screaming, and Joey held his fingers to his lips. Everyone was chattering excitedly around the table, so no one noticed that his attention was on his plate. Not on his beloved chicken and mashed potatoes, mind you, but on the eyes in the mashed potatoes that were staring back at him in horror.
What to do, Joey thought. He didn't want to kill the fly, or even hurt him, he just wanted to get him off his plate - without making a mess or getting into trouble!
Hey, wait a minute. Wait a minute!
Joey had been so panicked, trying to figure out what to do, he didn't stop to think about what he'd heard.
The fly spoke to him. In English. In full sentences.
Kid Joey's head tilted, his curious mind wanting to hear more…
But then again not wanting to hear more, because he didn't want anyone else to hear more. And then it happened.
Nana Terri looked his way and smiled. "How's the chicken, dude? As good as Mickey D's?"
Kid Joey froze in his chair as his grandmother waited for an answer, and then Gramps Blaze looked at him too, and he and Nana both could see the drama going on behind his eyes.
"What's wrong, Joey? You look a little freaked out," Gramps Blaze said.
Joey shook his head no, there was nothing wrong, at least not with their mashed potatoes. No little bugs were screaming at them. Heck, if a fly was in Gramps Blaze's mashed potatoes, he wouldn't hear the screaming, and might very well gobble up a little fly and wash it down with his coffee! He wondered if a fly inside you would keep screaming, and if it did, would Gramps Blaze be able to hear it then?
"What's up, dude?" Nana Terri said softly, close to his ear. "Something's wrong, I can tell."
Kid Joey looked into her sharp, blue eyes with his slightly scared eyes and said, "I'm okay. Is there a bathroom in this place?"
"Oh! So that's it!" Nana Terri smiled, and chuckled. "Of course! Probably a couple of 'em. But the closest one is right back there, see the sign?"
"Yep. Thank you." Kid Joey said, and stood up. He made like he was going to put his napkin on the table next to his plate, and scooped up part of his mashed potatoes into his hand, fly and all, while his napkin blocked everyone's view for just a moment.
Into the bathroom and into a stall he hurried.
"DON'T FLUSH MEEEEEE!" the teeny voice squealed.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to flush you! But how do I get the potatoes off you?"
Kid Joey had never rescued a fly before. His family had rescued Kato from the shelter, and his sister, (well, not really his sister, just in their family) Brie too. But he had no idea how to rescue a fly from a blob of mashed potatoes. If he tried to wipe them off he might break the fly, or parts of him. If he washed the fly under the spigot, it would drown. "What am I supposed to do with you? How do I get the potatoes off?"
"Carefully! Just put me on the side of the sink and put a little water on it. I will wash myself up."
"Joey? You okay in there?"
"Gramps Blaze!" Kid Joey whispered to the fly. "Uhh, yes, Gramps! I'm fine!
"Did you drip something on you? Do you need help cleaning up?"
"Why would you think that?" The panic was clear in Kid Joey's voice.
"Because I heard you talking about getting off mashed potatoes."
"You heard that?" Kid Joey mumbled. "Now what do I do?" he whispered to the fly.
"Wait until he leaves," the fly said in his teeny weeny little voice from the mashed potatoes.
"Hurry up in there, bud, and I'll wait for you."
"That's okay, Gramps Blaze. I have to do Number 2," Joey lied. "I don't want to stink you out."
"Well, okay, if you're sure."
"I'm sure. See you at the table," Kid Joey said, very much relieved.
After he heard the door quietly close behind Gramps Blaze, Kid Joey unlatched the stall door and pulled it open. He stepped out and ran right into Gramps Blaze. "What? I heard the door close!"
"And I heard you tell a big fat fib, and I want to know why."
"What do you mean, fib?"
"Fib - fabrication - lie. Fess up. There's no stink in this whole place, and you never even pulled your pants down, or else your shirttail would be hanging out in the back a little bit because you can never reach all the way around and get it tucked right. Now what's going on?" Gramps said, all while giving Kid Joey a serious once-over to see what spilled where. "Come on, kiddo, I'll help you clean up whatever it is, I'm the champion food-dumper in this family. If we can't get it out, I'll say I did it."
Kid Joey felt really bad. He almost always told the truth, unless it was a life or death situation - which this was, but could he tell Gramps Blaze that? He didn't want to disappoint Gramps Blaze and keep lying, but he didn't want any harm to come to Mr. Fly either. What could he do?
Kid Joey looked up into Gramps Blaze's eyes and decided that the only thing he could do was trust him.
"I didn't mean to lie to you, Gramps Blaze."
"Yeah, that's what had me confused, because you never lie. So I figured it's something that's got you pretty upset, or that you're in some kind of really big trouble. Is the FBI after you?"
Gramps Blaze's eyes widened. "CIA?" came his awestruck whisper.
"No!" Kid Joey chuckled now.
"No! Nobody's after me!"
"Then why did you fib to me, buddy?"
Kid Joey held out his hand with the little glob of potatoes stuck to his fingers, and the fly wiggling for dear life, screaming, "No! No grownups!"
But Gramps Blaze couldn't hear the fly. He could see him, though, and put his glasses on to get a better look. When he could see more clearly, he smiled.
"Talking fly, huh?"
Kid Joey gasped. "How do you know?"
"What, you think I haven't learned to read lips since my hearing went? Think again, laddie!"
"You can read his lips?" Kid Joey's amazed voice asked.
"You're avoiding the point of this conversation, Joseph."
Gramps Blaze never called him Joseph. Uh oh. Big trouble.
"I'm sorry I lied. But he talks, Gramps Blaze! I can't just squash him like any other stupid fly!"
"You squash flies??" the little voice shrieked in its tiny way.
Gramps Blaze and Kid Joey both looked at the potato glob in the boy's hand. "Actually, Kato chases them and chomps them."
"Who's Kato?!" the fly screamed.
"My best pal and sidekick. He's a dog."
"Put me by the sink! And then go away!"
Gramps Blaze said to the fly, "You have nothing to fear, little fly. Joey won't hurt you." Then to Kid Joey he said, "Hurry up and do what he said, before someone comes in the door! Hurry and I'll keep watch."
With that, Gramps Blaze stepped outside the bathroom and Kid Joey hurried to the sink counter and put the little glob of potatoes on it. He dripped a little water next to the potatoes, and a little around where the fly stood on them. Then he hurried from the bathroom after washing his hands.
Nana Terri watched her two men take their seats, both looking very much relieved, though Joey kept looking back over his shoulder at the men's room door.
"Okay, what's going on?" she leaned over toward Kid Joey's ear and whispered.
"Why would you think there's something going on?" Gramps Blaze tried to help.
"Because you're involved in this or you wouldn't be butting in, for one thing," Nana Terri said, smiling that knowing smile of hers.
"There was a talking fly in my potatoes and I took him into the bathroom so he could wash up," Kid Joey told the absolute truth as Gramps Blaze's jaw dropped in surprise.
Nana Terri tilted her head at Kid Joey. "Okay. I believe there was a fly in your potatoes - well, actually, in this place, even that is a hard thing to believe - but talking?" She looked up at Gramps Blaze. "You're backing up this shenanigans?"
Gramps Blaze smiled and nodded. Kid had told the truth.
Nana Terri leaned in toward the table, knowing that if what Kid Joey had said was the truth, that it was a big secret. "Really?" she said, her voice just above a whisper, her lips read by Gramps Blaze as she looked first at him, and then at Kid Joey. "Don't be lying to me, guys."
Gramps Blaze leaned in and nodded, his face the picture of seriousness. "Really," he whispered back.
And just then a fly dive-bombed the table over Daddy's head, straight down to the other end where Kid Joey sat, putting his napkin back into his lap.
And Kid Joey and Nana Terri heard, "Thank you, Kid Joey!" in a squeaky little fly voice, then off it flew and out the front door of the restaurant as someone entered.
Nana Terri's eyes squinted as she smiled. "Well alrighty, then! Talking flies. Only to my grandson do such adventures happen!"
And by that time Daddy's cake, glowing with dozens of candles arrived and he blew them all out.
What a party!
TD - 10/20/2015