Helping a Friend by Colin Kelly

Sometimes the best gift you can give — and receive — is when you help a friend.

Chapter 3

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It was about ten-thirty and Chris and I were ready for bed. We went downstairs to announce our sleeping arrangement to my folks. They were watching the end of the ten o’clock news.

“Hi. I just wanted to tell you that we’re going to bed. Chris has a request, and it’s okay with me.” My folks both looked up, and Chris’s expression went from pale to sallow. I’m not sure that he really expected to have to explain to my folks, but that’s what we had decided. So he took a deep breath.

“I’ve been sleeping in the passenger seat in my mom’s car for almost six months, then in the shelter in the church for the past week. It made me feel so alone. The idea of being alone in a big house like yours sort of scares me. I don’t want to be alone. So, I asked Darryl if I could sleep with him for a few days until I get used to being here. He said it was fine with him. But I wanted to let you know what we’re going to do, and make sure it’s okay with you.”

My mom smiled. “Chris, how you’re going to sleep here is up to you and Darryl. That is, as long as you’re going to actually sleep instead of getting in bed and turning on Darryl’s TV and watching movies until three or four in the morning.”

“Or playing video games into the wee hours of the morning,” Dad added.

“We’re definitely going to sleep,” I said. “This has been a hectic and probably really confusing week for Chris with a lot of changes in his life. I’ve been working on the short story that Mrs. Harington assigned in my English 3 class and that’s due the day we return to school on the seventh, and just thinking about it made me more than ready for bed.” Then I yawned, a real yawn. Chris was looking at me, and since yawns are contagious, he started to yawn, too.

“Go on, get to bed and go to sleep,” Mom said. “We’ll see you two in the morning.”

“Dad, do you have to work tomorrow?”

“Yes. Unlike kids in school, we don’t get two weeks off over Christmas,” he replied. “I do get Monday through Wednesday off, however.”

I yawned again, then I said, “Good night, see you in the morning.”

“Good night,” Chris said, “and thank you so much for what you’re doing for me. I really appreciate it.”

“Good night, guys,” Dad said, then Mom said the same.

We went upstairs. “I’m going to take a quick shower then brush my teeth,” I said. It’ll be faster if you brush your teeth while I’m showering then shower after I’ve finished.”

“Okay. Works for me.”

I undressed and grabbed a clean pair of boxer briefs and a t-shirt for me and the same for Chris. He got undressed, too. It was the first time that we’d seen each other in the nude. I stared at him, and liked what I saw.

“You want a camera?” he asked, grinning. Then we both burst out laughing.

“Don’t need one. I have eidetic memory,” I replied.

“What’s that?”

“I remember images of what I’ve seen. Some people call it photographic memory, but that’s different. Photographic memory lets you remember what you’ve read. That would be more valuable then eidetic memory which is like remembering pictures or scenes or people.”

“So, you’ll always remember an image of my body?”

“Yeah, more or less. Images I’ve seen can fade. But the more often I recall an image the longer I can recall it.”

“So most images of things you’ve seen fade away?”

“Uh-huh. Some stay with me forever, like I saw an accident near school two years ago. A car ran into a kid on a bike, stopped, and then drove off. I saw the license plate and can remember it right now. It was 2GAT471 and the car was a white Kia Sorento. The last time I had to remember it was when the police came and I gave them the license plate number and the color and model of the car. They caught the driver the same day. So, I still remember it today, about two years since the last time, because it was a distressing experience.”

Chris spread his arms out wide. “Wow! Since you were looking at my magnificence, will you remember it for a long time?”

“Certainly this view, I will. That’s because your description was so funny.”

“Funny?” he asked. “Funny? What was funny?”

“The magnificence part. Since we have to study for our test in Spanish 4 when we get back to school, you do realize that magnificence is a female noun in Spanish. I’m not sure that word is appropriate for a guy to use.”

“You better not say that in Mrs. Acero’s Spanish 4 class! Nouns like magnificencia that have female endings aren’t used only for describing a female. Think about the Spanish word mano. It has a male ending but it doesn’t mean it can only be used for the hand of a male.”

“I know. I was just pulling your pierna. I’ll remember the vision of your magnificence for a long time.”

“It would be a lot more fun if you were pulling my pene.” We were both laughing as we went into the bathroom.

While Chris brushed his teeth, I got into the shower and was finished in less than five minutes. I got out and Chris brushed his right arm against me as he got in. It felt almost like an electric shock, and I took a deep breath. I dried myself, put on my t-shirt and boxer briefs, then brushed my teeth, all while he showered. He stepped out of the shower and I handed him a new bath towel.

“Darryl, I can use the same towel I was using this morning.”

“I think it got put in the wash. Just use this new towel. Mom told me she wants me to use a clean towel every day.”

“Really? Why?”

“She thinks I get them dirty.”

“I don’t want to think about how you get them dirty, Darryl.”

“So just go with the plan and use a new towel every morning.”

“Okay, okay!”

“Chris, can I ask you an embarrassing question?”

“I guess.”

“How did you shower when you were living in your mom’s car?”

“I’d use the shower at school first thing in the morning. My mom would use the shower in the Parkside Fitness Center in Pleasant Hill, and on weekends and school holidays I also used it because I could get in on her membership card.”

“Don’t you have to be a member to use their facilities?”

“She has a membership that’s good through the end of 2020. She bought a five-year membership at the beginning of 2016. She can bring a family member for free.”

I thought about what Chris had just told me. “Do you think she might still be using that gym?”

Chris looked at me for a few seconds. “Oh! I see what you mean. We could go there tomorrow morning and see if she’s there. Right?”

“Right. Let’s ask my mom if she can drive us there in the morning. What time would we have to be there?”

“They open at six in the morning. I think my mom would be there around eight to use the shower.”

“Okay. Come on, let’s go downstairs and ask her now. That way she can plan to be up to take us there around seven-thirty.”

I got up and started for my bedroom door.

Chris called out, “Wait! We need to put something on, like a bathrobe or pants.”

“We’re just fine,” I said. “My folks see me in my boxer briefs and a tee all the time. Don’t worry about it. Let’s go.”

“Okay, if you say so. Don’t forget, I’m not related to you or your folks. They might not want to see me in my skivvies.”

I grabbed his arm. “Come on. Let’s get our butts downstairs and find out if my mom can take us to the gym early enough that your mom might be there. And don’t worry about your skivvies. Just don’t get a boner.”

“What did you say?” Chris shouted. But by then I was laughing as I was dragging him down the stairs.

“Hey, careful,” he yelped. “I don’t want to fall into you and have me or you or both of us get injured or killed.”

I pulled Chris into the family room.

“Chris figured out a way to find his mom. It’s just a maybe, but a good maybe. Tell them, Chris.”

He glared at me. “Actually, it was Darryl’s idea. He asked me what I did to shower in the morning and I said I’d take a shower in the gym as soon as I got to school. Then he asked me what my mom did to shower. She’d go to the Parkside Fitness Center in Pleasant Hill, and I’d go with her as her guest on the weekends when school was closed. We think if we could get to the gym early tomorrow morning, I might find my mom.”

“That you figured it out is very clever,” Dad said. “You two are very bright. I’m proud of both of you.”

“What time is early,” Mom asked.

“Around eight o’clock,” Chris replied.

“That’s not a problem. Maybe we should leave at seven-thirty. Then, Chris, you can look for her car in the parking lot or wherever she normally parks at the gym.”

“That’s great. Thank you. Darryl, we have to get to bed now so we’ll be able to leave on time. What time will you set your alarm?”

“I think six forty-five. A quick shower, a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal, brush our teeth, and we’ll be ready to go by seven-thirty.”

“Okay. Let’s go upstairs and get to bed.”

“Let’s do it.” I looked at my mom. “Thanks, Mom. We appreciate that you’re going to drive us.”

When we got back to my room I asked Chris which side of the bed he’d prefer.

“The side that doesn’t have the alarm clock.”

“That’s the left side when we’re laying in bed.”

Chris walked around the bed to the left side and got in. I set and turned on the alarm and the lamp that was on the nightstand on my side of the bed, walked to my bedroom door and closed it, then turned off the ceiling light. I got in bed on my regular side, the right, and turned off the lamp.

“G’night, Chris,” I whispered.

“G’night, Darryl.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

The next thing I heard was my clock radio blasting out KKDV’s morning program. I looked to my left and saw that Chris was laying on his left side and it appeared that he was still asleep. I let the radio continue; the volume was turned up just below where it would have static interfering with the music. Or, lots of talking. That was what was on the station right then,.

“Oh, god, turn it off, Darryl!” Chris grumbled.

“Time to get up,” I said in a cheery voice. I pulled the blanket and sheet off of him, got up, and went into the bathroom. Leaving the radio on at the same volume. I finished peeing and stripped, and was getting in the shower when he came in the bathroom.

“You’re terrible,” he said.

“You should have asked before you fell asleep. The only way I can be sure to get up is have the radio blasting in my ears.”

He squinted at me. “It worked for me, too.” He grinned, then laughed. “That’s probably the only way it would have worked for me, too.” Then he stripped and stood at the toilet taking a leak.

By then I was finished with my quick shower, so I stepped out and he got in. I dried off, and since we were going to brush our teeth after breakfast I decided to just rinse with mouthwash instead of brushing my teeth twice. Normally I would have done that, the brush-my-teeth-twice bit. But we were in a hurry today.

I returned to my room and got dressed. As I finished Chris came in and he got dressed. We went downstairs to the kitchen. Mom had toasted asiago cheese bagels and cut them in half ready for us to anoint them with butter or peanut butter or cream cheese. I picked butter; Chris picked peanut butter. I had a cup of coffee; Chris had a glass of orange juice. We sort of gobbled everything so we could leave on time. I cut two bagels in half and put them in a plastic bag so we’d have something to snack on while we waited.

When we finished eating Chris and I went upstairs and brushed out teeth. I pulled out two heavy jackets and gave one to Chris. “Here, put this on. It’s going to be cold outside.”

I hoped we’d find Chris’s mom, or at least her car, as soon as we arrived. We didn’t find either.

“Why don’t we check with the front desk and see if she’d been here recently,” Mom suggested.

“That’s a good idea,” Chris said. We walked in. The woman behind the counter recognized him.

“Chris! How are you?”

“Good, Donna, better than ever. Have you seen my mom?”

“Yes. She was here on Wednesday. I didn’t see her yesterday, but that’s because I had a dental appointment and didn’t arrive until noon. Let me check and see if she came in.”

She sat down at a computer keyboard and display that was on her desk. “According to the entry log she wasn’t here yesterday.”

“What time has she been coming in?” Chris asked.

“Let’s see. Eight-twenty last Saturday and Sunday, seven-fifty on Monday, eight-ten on Tuesday, and eight-thirty on Wednesday. If she comes in today it should be around those times.”

“Let’s go outside and wait,” Chris suggested. “There’s a bench out there where we can sit.” We went outside and sat down.

“Chris, does your mother usually park in the same area?” Mom asked.

“Usually. Over there near those trees. She likes it there because the trees shade her car when it’s hot. She always parks there no matter what the weather is.”

“Okay, let’s wait and see if she shows up today,” I said. “Either of you want a half of a bagel? It’s asiago cheese.” I pulled out the baggie that I had in my coat pocket. I’d brought the leftover bagels from home in case anyone would be hungry.

Chris grinned. “I’ll have one of the halves,” he said. I handed it to him.

“Mom?” I asked.

“Okay, I’ll also have the same. Where’s the coffee?” she asked, grinning.

“At home. Here’s your bagel.”

“Having them cut in half across the bagel makes them a lot easier to eat,” Chris said. “These are really good. I like the cheese that’s on the outside.”

“It’s my favorite flavor bagel,” I said.

We sat watching cars come in the driveway. It was eight-thirty and we were still waiting.

“How long do you think we should wait?” Mom asked.

“Maybe until nine o’clock?” I suggested. “That way if she gets here later than usual we won’t miss her.”

“That’s a good idea,” Chris said.

At nine-fifteen Mom suggested that Chris go in the gym and ask them if they’d call him on his cellphone the next time his mother arrived.

“I don’t have a cellphone,” he said.

“We can have them call either me or Darryl,” Mom suggested.

“Let’s use mine,” I said.

“Alright, that’s a good idea. What’s your cellphone number?” Chris asked.

I selected it so it was on the screen, then handed him my phone. “Just show it to her. She can copy it from the screen. That reduces the chance that she might get it wrong.”

“Darryl, how about you come in with me,” he said.


We walked in and he asked that they call him the next time his mom checked in, no matter what time or day it was.

“I’m not living with my mom now, and I need to find out if she’s still coming to the gym.”

“We’ll be glad to let you know, Chris. We always enjoyed it when you would come in with her and you’d exercise together.”

“Thank you, Donna.”

We went outside and Mom stood up. “All set?” she asked.

“Yes. They’re going to call Darryl the next time she comes in.”

“What are we going to do now?” I asked.

“We have some shopping to do. We’re close to Sun Valley Mall. We can start there.”

“What are we going to get?”

“Chris needs some clothes.” He started to object, but Mom said, “Shush! You need clothes. And shoes. We don’t know how long it’s going to take to find your mother. Whatever clothes in her car that are yours, Chris, might not fit you anymore. You’ve probably outgrown them. So, no arguments, we’re buying you some clothes. And shoes. Since I have the credit card you and I will do that. We’ll go to the clothing stores that are having before-Christmas sales.

“Darryl, I’m going to give you some cash and a list of things I want you to pick up for me.”

She handed me a piece of folded note paper. I opened it and saw the first item on the list and it read: ‘Buy Christmas presents for Chris.’ I refolded it.

“You should be able find these things,” she said. “Start at the Kitchen and Bath store.” She handed me some twenty dollar bills and I stuffed them in my pocket with the note. “You do know what a turkey baster is, don’t you?”

“I think so, and I can always ask a clerk.”

“Chris, you and I will also go to the T-Mobile kiosk. I’ll add you to our family plan and get you a cellphone.” He was shaking his head and was about to say ‘no’ when Mom interrupted him. “Don’t argue. You need a cellphone.”

“After that we’ll have some lunch in the food court, then we’ll stop at BuyMart on the way home and get you a laptop computer. You can share Darryl’s printer.”

“Is there a way we can get a second desk and chair in my bedroom for Chris to use?” I asked.

“There’s a desk in the guest bedroom. That’s Chris’s bedroom,” Mom said, with an emphasis that meant no arguments from me.

“Oh. Okay,” is what I said, but “Damn it!” is what I thought, with an emphasis that meant damn it. Still, he’d be just across the hall from me. Convenient. But still not in my bedroom and my bed. Of course, he was going to be in my bed for a week or two. No telling what might come up. That made me laugh.

“What’s funny?” Chris asked.

“You get to go clothes shopping and I end up buying stuff for the kitchen.” That definitely wasn’t what I’d been thinking that might come up.

I had no idea which stores Mom and Chris were shopping for clothes. Most of the stores in the mall were high-end more expensive places. But that wasn’t my problem. I checked to see how much money my mom had given me to buy Christmas presents for Chris and other things she wanted that were on her list. I counted it out; there was $120.00. Then I checked the list to see what she wanted me to buy, other than some things for Chris.

The turkey baster was $2.99. A set of four white wine glasses for my grandmother and grandfather was $20.00 and it came gift wrapped. A new six-inch utility knife for cooking was $7.95.They had free gift wrap so I had the turkey baster wrapped but not the knife. All plus tax. The total was $33.65. That left $86.35 for Christmas gifts for Chris.

Then there was the question about what to buy him. No clothes or shoes; that was being taken care of. No cellphone; ditto. No laptop; ditto. No printer; he’d share mine which had Bluetooth so it would be a no-brainer to connect it to his new laptop.

What he needed was a new backpack. His was ragged and he’d complained that one of the zippers didn’t work making that pocket unusable. I decided to go to the luggage store and see what they had. I found three JanSport backpack-bookbags. One was $55.00, one was $60.00, and the third was $65.00, all list prices. The $60.00 model had a dedicated laptop pocket, was maroon and black which are the Edison school colors, and was on sale for $49.00 plus tax, $53.30 in all. And they would gift wrap it for no charge. Fortunately, they had a box that it fit in and they gift wrapped it while I waited. So I had another $33.00 to spend on him. I decided to get him a Kindle e-reader from the Amazon store in Walnut Creek. I’d add to the $33.00 to cover the cost.

I had to navigate the now even more crowded mall with two large bags. A huge one with the backpack and a large one with the wine glasses and the stuff Mom wanted for our kitchen. It doesn’t sound like much, but it turned out to be clumsy trying to avoid hitting people with my bags as I tried to avoid being hit by people with big bags, too.

Mom said we’d meet in the food court for lunch. Wasn’t going to happen. It was jammed with people and there were long lines at each of the food stalls. I walked to Red Robin, they have excellent burgers with all you can eat fries. They had room for us, so before checking in I called Mom. She agreed that Red Robin would be fine. She said that she and Chris were almost finished, he was trying on a pair of New Balance shoes for PE. She said she’d text me as soon as they were leaving Shoe Basement, the name of the store, and then I could ask to be seated.

While I stood waiting for the text I decided to make sure that the gym hadn’t called and I missed it. There was no call from the gym. I did get Mom’s text, finally. They were on their way.

“My mom and my friend are on their way from Shoe Basement and they’ll be here in a couple minutes. So can I be seated now?”

The hostess agreed and as I was being seated I saw Mom and Chris and waved. They joined me with a lot of shopping bags.

“Your mother is crazy, Darryl. All of this stuff is mine.”

I pointed to the two bags I’d been carrying. “All of this stuff isn’t yours.” We both laughed. Technically, what I’d said was correct. It was partially not for Chris and partially for him.

We had lunch, burgers for me and Chris and fish and chips for Mom.

“Did you get a cellphone?” I asked Chris.

“No. They only ones they had in the kiosk were the really expensive ones, $699.99 and up. Mostly up. Can you imagine paying almost twelve-hundred dollars for a cellphone?” He shook his head like he couldn’t believe it.

“We’ll stop at the T-Mobile store in downtown Pleasant Hill to get his phone, then go to BuyMart in Walnut Creek and get his laptop,” Mom said.

Sheesh, this turned into a shopping day with the mall being jammed and we didn’t know what downtown Pleasant Hill would be like; the problem there is always trying to find parking. Then we would be going to BuyMart in Walnut Creek which I knew would be even more jammed with shoppers. Of course, there were only four shopping days until Christmas, so I guess big crowds were to be expected.

“Did you get a call from the gym?” Chris asked.

“No. And I checked a few minutes ago to make sure I hadn’t missed it. I also checked my texts, too.”

“Did you check your email?” Mom asked.

“No. I didn’t give the gym my email address. Just my cell number. So they could phone me or text me. They didn’t, so I guess we have to continue waiting.”

“They told me they never forget to enter anyone using the gym,” Chris said. “But maybe they did forget yesterday.”

“Maybe that was because they had an intern at the desk. I suppose we could have asked if they have surveillance cameras,” I said.

“That’s an interesting idea,” Mom said. “We could phone them and ask.”

“Okay. I’ll do it right now.” I pulled out my phone and searched for the phone number of the Parkside Fitness Center and dialed the number. I asked for the registration desk. When I was connected I handed the phone to Chris. He asked for Donna.

“Since you weren’t there yesterday,” he said, “whoever was filling in for you might have forgotten to check in my mom. Do you have surveillance cameras showing the registration desk? Okay, thank you.”

“The answer was no cameras,” he told us. “Too bad. It was a good idea.”

We finished lunch, and Mom paid for it using the display at our table. The waitress didn’t have to get involved. It worked great as long the bill was being paid by credit card.

“Next we’re going to the T-Mobile store in Pleasant Hill Downtown,” Mom announced. So that’s what we did. They had a deal. Add a line and get an LG phone with a stylus and a 6.2” screen on sale for $8.00 a month for two years and free activation. Mom signed him up and Chris walked out with his first cellphone ever.

If we’d thought Sun Valley Mall was crowded, BuyMart was a zoo. There was actually a line to get in the front door. So we got in line. We worked our way through the crowded aisles of electronics and appliances and books and whatever, and finally arrived in the back of the store where all of the computers were sold.

We looked at several laptops. Chris picked an Acer that was on sale for $399.00. I checked the specs. “This isn’t a good choice for two reasons,” I said. It’s underpowered, and it’s heavy. This Dell is on sale for $899.00. It’s lighter weight so you won’t break your back carrying it in your backpack, it has a faster processor, four times as much RAM, a solid state drive with twice the capacity, and a touch screen. They’re throwing in the stylus so you can write and draw on the screen, and that normally sells separately for $45.00.”

“You like it, Chris?” Mom asked.

“Yeah, but it’s way too expensive.”

“Nonsense. I think this Dell laptop is the one we should get you.”

Chris looked like he was about to cry. “You shouldn’t be spending so much on me.”

“You’re living with us now, and we can afford it.”

I guess hearing the words ‘we can afford it’ one of the BuyMart clerks joined us. His name was Brandon.

“This is a very good buy,” Brandon said. “Normally it would be almost $1,400.00 but it’s a discontinued model and we bought all of them that Dell had available.”

I turned around and checked the price for this model on Amazon. It was $899.00 but didn’t include the free stylus.

“I think it’s a good deal,” I said. Mom nodded her agreement.

“We’ll take it,” I said. How about throwing in a laptop mouse?”

“Well, we’re throwing in the stylus. But tell you what, we have a Logitech laptop mouse on sale for $9.99. How about I include it?”

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

“I agree,” Mom said.

The clerk looked at Chris, who seemed to be shell-shocked. “Since this seems to be for you,” Brandon said, “is this model going to work for you?”

“Yeah, I… yeah, I guess. Yes.” He grabbed my mom in a big hug.

The clerk looked at me. “How about you?” he asked.

“I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.”

Realizing I wasn’t a customer for a new laptop, he turned back to Chris. “How about a printer?”

“I can use Darryl’s,” and he pointed at me.

“This Dell has Bluetooth, right?” I asked.

“Yes, it does. Your printer has Bluetooth?”


“Then let’s go write it up.”

He tried to sell us a two-year extension for the warranty, but Mom ended that when she found out it was $129.99. We finally escaped with two boxes, one box with the Dell laptop and its accessories, and a small box with the mouse. Chris carried the bigger box and I carried the small one.

When we got home Chris took all of his goodies into his bedroom. He showed me all of the clothes Mom had bought for him. Jeans, khakis, shirts, T-shirts, boxer briefs, socks, two pair of New Balance shoes, two Speedos for swimming, a heavy-weight jacket, a light-weight jacket, and a rain jacket. He had it organized on the bed, then he started putting it away with my help. I did half of the removing of labels and stickers and price tags and so on; he did the other half.

“We’ll wash the jeans, shirts, t-shirts, boxer briefs, and the Speedos before you wear them,” I said. “Let’s take them to the laundry room and I’ll show you how the washer works.”

“I’ve never had so many clothes, Darryl. I can’t believe it. I’m almost dizzy.”

After all of his clothes were either in the wash or hanging in his closet, it was time to get his laptop set up. That took about an hour and a half, including the time to initialize Windows 10, hook up his mouse, get him hooked up to our internet connection, and to install Microsoft Office and the Adobe applications. We synched his cellphone to our network and his laptop. Then we hooked up his laptop to my printer. While this was being done, I moved his clothes from the washer to the dryer.

When I got back to my room Chris was sitting at my desk playing with his phone. “Having fun?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’m finding all kinds of apps that I have no idea what they would be used for.”

“Yeah, that’s typical,” I said. “You know, one thing we should do is put all of the family’s cellphone numbers and the home landline number on your phone.”

That’s what we did, and it took about five minutes because I’d have look up a number on my phone and Chris would manually enter it on his phone. There might be a faster way to do it, but I didn’t know what it was. The only fast way I knew was to copy all of the numbers from my phone, and that didn’t make sense.

“I have another suggestion,” I said. “Why don’t you put the number for the Parkside Fitness Center on your phone, and call them and give them your number in case your mom is there and they want to call to let you know. You can tell them to remove my number.”

Chris agreed that was a great idea. When he call the Parkside Fitness Center after giving them his number they told him that his mom hadn’t been there since we were there this morning.

The twins were eager to see the computer and cellphone Chris got. They had questions about the stylus and how he could use it, so he demonstrated drawing on the screen using the built-in graphics software.

Finally it was all done, and it was time for dinner.

Mom made meatloaf and we had it with veggies and a salad. Mom talked about the surprise Christmas gift that she’d received. She brought out the gift-wrapped package. She pulled off the Christmas paper and there it was, the turkey baster. With a gift receipt.

Everyone was laughing. “And how much did this gift cost me?” Mom asked.

“I shouldn’t tell you,” I said. “I heard that it isn’t polite to tell the recipient how much the giver spent on the gift that they gave.”

Mom did her squinty-eyes bit and stared at me. “I’m the giver. It’s my money that paid for it.”

“It was on sale.” I said.

“How much?” Mom said.

I heard Chris and the twins doing everything they could to keep from laughing out loud.

“Three twenty-five.”

“Three dollars and twenty five cents?” Mom asked, using an incredulous tone of voice.

“Hey, that includes sales tax,” I replied. “It was two dollars and ninety-nine cents before sales tax.”

At that point Chris and the twins started laughing. Then so did Mom and Dad. I just sat there glaring at them until, finally, I started laughing, too.

Even I had fun going shopping today. But I had one more shopping trip to make. I wanted to buy Chris a Kindle e-reader as my gift to him for Christmas. That meant going to the Amazon store in Walnut Creek without him. I didn’t have a clue how to accomplish that.

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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2019 by Colin Kelly (colinian); the original image is Copyright © by Sabphoto | Adobe Stock File #70786207. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story and has licensed use of this image. No other rights are granted.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don’t want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren’t supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!