Kane and Avery’s first Father’s Day
“Babe?” Avery called down to Kane. “Change in plans!” Kane cringed at the tone Avery used. With that tone in his voice, whatever happened couldn’t be good. He continued strapping a sleeping four month old Autumn into her carrier. He waited a second or two, watching to make sure she stayed sleeping before turning and heading up the staircase, ready to deal with whatever Avery needed.
“Baby?” Avery said again as Kane took the steps up two at a time.
“What happened?” Kane asked as he hit the top of the stairs and headed to the babies bedroom.
“I don’t think we can save it,” Avery said holding Robert out at arm’s length in front of him as he met Kane at the door. Robert was smiling happily, spit-up covering his brand new Father’s day outfit. The cute little sailor ensemble they had spent hours shopping for. The only one they could find that matched Autumn’s perfectly.
“No!” Kane took the baby looking to see if the clothes were savable.
“I knew I didn’t burp him enough. I’m sorry,” Avery said and Kane looked up, the saddest expression on his face.
“Dang it,” Kane declared. “I should have waited to dress him when we got there. He spits up too much. It’s my fault.” Kane took Robert to his changing table and began undressing him, trying to negotiate the outfit off without further damage.
“Here. This one kind of matches Autumn.” Kane looked over his shoulder and saw the rest of the spit up trailing down the back of Avery’s dress shirt.
“Oh honey, he got you too,” Kane said and gave Avery a small smile. Avery looked down his shirt and over each sleeve.
“Where?” he asked.
“All down your back.” Kane winced as Avery looked over his shoulder, clearly spotting the trail of white splattered down his back.
“Damn, he’s a sneaky little shit. He must have done that first. He wasn’t even on my shoulder when he spit up.”
“Language,” Kane said, lifting his eyebrows. “You promised.”
“That was way before I realized how much he’d throw-up all over me. I’m going to change.” Avery began pulling his shirt from his slacks. “Is it on my pants?”
“I don’t see any,” Kane said, his hands on Robert, but his eyes on Avery.
“All right, I’ll meet you downstairs,” Avery said, and left the room.
“No more spitting up today. Granddaddy Paulie’s excited about us coming over,” Kane cooed looking down at his wiggling little boy. “Maybe that’s why you throw up so much. You move all the time.”
Kane lifted Robert to take him to the bathroom to run a quick washcloth over his chest, before dressing him and taking him downstairs. As he got to the place they kept Robert’s carrier, he didn’t see it. A small honk caught his attention. He must have taken too much time. Avery had Autumn loaded and they were waiting for them in the front drive.
“Get in here!” Paulie’s gravelly voice boomed excitedly as he opened the front door of his home. He lived on the outskirts of Minneapolis. A small two bedroom home with a large work shop in the back. The shop was bigger than the house. Kane could never understand why Paulie needed that building. In all the years Avery had known Paulie, he’d had never used the space for anything other than storage. So he tended to agree, but Paulie would set them both straight saying someday he’d need to build something and now he had the room.
“Hi, Paulie” they both said in unison.
“I’m sorry we’re late, Robert had an accident,” Kane said. Avery carried Autumn in her carrier. He had both diaper bags slung over his shoulder, but Kane held Robert in his arms, trying to pat a burp out of him.
Avery positioned a foot at the bottom of the screen door encouraging Kane inside with a squirming, Robert, aka little LB, so named after Linda Blair of The Exorcist fame. Well, not so much Robert, but his spiting up ability. Avery swore and regularly placed bets that Robert matched Regan in The Exorcist in both distance and volume. Kane was covered in baby blankets. It was quite obvious he was making damn sure if Robert projectile vomited, it would be caught without destroying anything else today.
Robert gurgled and played with his hands. He was wide awake, turning his head, looking for the man who owned that loud voice greeting them.
“Get over here big boy,” Paulie said, taking Robert from Kane’s arms. Just like always, Robert was more than happy to go to Paulie. In a few years, he could see Robert more than happy to follow Paulie to the moon and back.
“He’s throwing up again,” Kane said, draping a blanket over Paulie’s shoulder to catch anything that might make an appearance.
“Is he now? He’s grown a foot since I saw him last week. He can’t being throwing up too much.” Kane looked over at Avery, he met his gaze straight on.
“Oh yeah he can,” Avery said. He placed Autumn on the sofa and began the process of unbuckling her from all the restraints.
“I think it’s time to give this growing boy some cereal,” Paulie advised, walking to the sofa, taking Autumn from Avery with his free arm.
“We aren’t supposed to feed him cereal for another two more months. Are you sure you can handle them both?” Kane asked, coming up beside Paulie, extending a hand to take either one of the twins.
“I got this and back when my boy was young, Marjorie fed him food from the time he got home from the hospital….” Kane interrupted Paulie’s rant.
“From the time he came home?” Kane asked, looking back at Avery who stood there smiling at the four of them. Man did he love his family.
“Absolutely! From the day he came home! And he never woke up one time in the middle of the night,” Paulie declared.
“Paulie, that’s not true,” Kane said, trying again to take one of the babies.
“Get back! It’s father’s day. They need to be with their Grandfather!” Paulie side stepped Kane and walked with the babies to the kitchen.
“Where are you taking them?” Kane asked.
“To their room,” Paulie cooed at Autumn. It was an awkward sound coming from the gravel, hard voice that boomed at everyone he met.
Kane jerked his head in Avery’s direction. “Did he just say their room?” Avery whispered.
“What did you do?” Kane called out. Avery was already across the room, pulling Kane along with him.
“You’ll see…” Paulie’s rough voice crackled causing Autumn to cry. “Shhh, baby girl. I’m sorry. I gotta get better about that”
Hours later Avery, Paulie and Kane sat at his kitchen table. The babies were in Kane and Avery’s arms, fast asleep. Paulie was finally sitting back, resting after the huge dinner he prepared.
“I can’t believe you did that for them. It’s amazing,” Avery said as he sipped from a glass of wine. It came from a special bottle of wine, a 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild, that Paulie had given to Avery and Kane as a Father’s day gift.
“My grandbabies need a place to sleep when they come to my house,” Paulie said proudly, topping off Avery’s wine glass. Kane lifted a hand to stop Paulie, but he wasn’t having any of that tonight.
“It’s Father’s day. His first Father’s day. Let the boy have a third glass of wine!”
“Paulie, it’s for his health. So he can have many more Father’s days with his children,” Kane said, but he gave, sitting back when Robert started the move. “I’m driving.”
“I think three glasses of wine in four hours is fine,” Avery started, but Kane looked up, giving him the eye until he got the desired results. After a minute, Avery nodded in his direction.
“Did you do all that painting yourself?” Avery asked, bringing them back in to the conversation they’d had on and off since they walked into that wonderland room.
“Nah, I paid someone. I can’t see well enough anymore.” Paulie had a tribute to Bugs Bunny painted in their new bedroom. Paulie had always liked Bugs Bunny, something Kane had never known until it came time to pick a layette. He’d pushed and pushed trying to get Kane to select Bugs. In the end, he chose Minnie and Mickey and at the time, he thought he had broken Paulie’s heart. Apparently not.
“And my boy here only had a little bit of a stroke when he saw those bunk beds.” That got both Paulie and Avery laughing. “I knew he would.”
“You promised, they can’t get on the top bunk until they get older.”
“I just can’t believe you built them yourself,” Avery added, ignoring Kane. He got it, it was about the fiftieth time he had Paulie reaffirm the promise of no top bunk until they were at least five. Paulie just had a way of telling Kane what he wanted to hear and then doing something completely different when it came time for action.
“I told Kane that someday I was gonna need that shop. I’ve been working on them since Sophia got pregnant. And I didn’t jinx anything by doing it,” Paulie said looking directly at Kane because he wouldn’t let anyone buy a thing for the kids until they hit the twenty week mark of the pregnancy.
“But wouldn’t you have felt bad if something had gone wrong?” Kane asked, and Avery laughed. This was completely their way of things.
“You would have never known,” Paulie replied.
“Of that, I’m certain.” Kane chuckled at him too.
“Babe, let’s give him his gift,” Avery said, fishing a card out of the diaper bag at his feet. Avery tossed it out on the table, letting it slide across to Paulie.
Paulie opened the envelope. He read the outside and then opened the card, a paper dropped out. Kane watched him closely trying to gauge his reaction.
“What’s this?” Paulie asked, pulling his readers from his pocket. “A trip to Italy?”
“You haven’t been back since I graduated from school,” Kane offered at the confused expression on his face.
“We want to send you home for a vacation. To see your family,” Avery added. Paulie read over the airline voucher and traveler’s checks. As he looked through it all, he got tears eyes.
“This cost too much money. I can’t take it.” Paulie finally said, and pushed the card back toward Kane.
“Of course you can. The restaurant’s doing great. Things aren’t so tight anymore,” Kane said, sliding the envelope back to Paulie. He opened the voucher again and read the details. “It’s open ended. You can go when you want, come back when you want.”
Paulie sat there quietly looking from Kane to Avery. He handed the envelope back to Kane. “Thank you, son, but I want you to cash this in and put toward their college fund. We just got them two, I don’t wanna leave right now,” Paulie said. “And it’ll do my heart good to know they have money in the bank, building interest for them.”
“Paulie, they’ll be here when you get back,” Kane started, but Avery stopped him, reaching across the table placing a hand on his arm.
“This is your gift, you go if you want or not, it doesn’t matter when. I’ll hold it for you,” Avery said. Paulie looked relieved and gave a silent nod as he rose, taking Robert from Kane.
“Shhh…” Paulie cuddle the baby close to him. When Robert started to fuss in earnest, he got up, patting his back and left them in the kitchen walking into the living room.
“Was he crying?” Avery asked quietly about Paulie.
“I think so,” Kane answered, completely confused. After a minute he rose and took off after Paulie. “Let me go talk to him.”
“Hey,” Kane said softly walking into the living room.
“He’s back asleep,” Paulie announced, holding Robert up against his shoulder.
“Are you okay? We thought you’d like the gift.” Paulie took a couple of turns about the room staying silent. Kane waited to the point he thought Paulie wasn’t going to answer.
“Son, I’m not ready to leave them. I’m an old man and I just don’t want to miss anything with them,” Paulie said, hugging Robert as he spoke. Kane nodded, watching the emotion crossing Paulie’s face.
“That’s fair. Then we’ll take the ticket and turn it into a college fund,” Kane offered, nodding again, trying to hide the lump forming in his throat. Just like he’d done about a million times since he was eighteen years old, he thanked God for bringing this man into his life.
“That’s what I want,” Paulie declared. Avery appeared beside Kane, Autumn sleeping soundly in his arms. She was always good at that.
“We good?” he asked Kane.
“It looks like the twins have a college fund.”
“And I want access to that account to put money into it. Being here, spending time with my boys and investing in my grandchildren’s future is the best father’s day present ever,” Paulie added with a smile.
“All right. I’ll work it out next week,” Avery said.
Happy Father’s Day everyone!
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