Rory was finally making some headway at the Lab. He got his pay all straightened out and he made a concerted effort to always be focused, even if he had to use a device to make it so. Staring at the jiggly-wig, for lack of its proper name, helped greatly. He was busy inventing all manner of devices. He cloned a rose, but when he attempted to clone a serum, it kept going wrong. All he got for his efforts was some sort of cube. He would have to look into it later, to see just what it was, and if it held any unwanted surprised. Rory was dying to try out the worm-hole, time Portal thingie he’d built, but only had time to calibrate it.
So caught up in his work, he failed to realize it was Johnny’s birthday. Johnny was a teen. But it mostly went unnoticed. So the boy, hung his head, feeling quite sorry for himself, and hummed the happy birthday tune to himself. Rory felt badly about the lack of a party, but they were still digging out of their financial hole. Despite the lack of funds, they still could have had a quiet family dinner and cake, at the very least. This was an epic failure on his part. Instead, Gramps baked a delicious chocolate cake, James added candles and celebrated, but Johnny was still down in the dumps. Who could blame him, they blew it. Had the cake come a few moments sooner, things would have been happier.
Thankfully Aunt Aubrey called and invited the boys out to a dance party at the ruins. Being a Saturday night, the boys were eager to go. They danced until Johnny just couldn’t stay on his feet a minute longer. He curled up on a stone bench while James and the others continued to dance.
While the teens were out making merry, Joseph returned home from work. He was now a ‘Stand Up Star’. Or as he put it, “An Artiste.” The family was thrilled for him, he had worked so very hard at it and he truly was a funny guy. The fact that his father was rather childish was a factor that played into it, Rory was certain. Along with the news of Joseph’s long-awaited promotion Rory also got some happy news of his very own.
Ericka stared at the little stick, elated. Running into the living room to find Rory, “Rory! I have Big News,” she said, “we’re having another baby!” Waving her hands and all but jumping up and down. Rory joined in her excitement.
“We should tell Dad,” Rory said. “If we can find him.”
“I think he’s in the diningroom having some dinner. Keeping Jaron company. I’ll just go give him our happy news.”
“What a night for him. He gets a big promotion and news of another grandchild.”
Ericka smiled and made her way through the kitchen to the back hallway and through the archway into the dining room. “Dad Joe,” she began and stopped short. “Dad — Rory! Rory, come quick! Something’s happened!” And then she began to weep. Joseph lay on his side on the floor.
“What’s wrong with Grandpa, Mommy?”
“I’m not sure, but I think he’s left us. Rory, what’s keeping you?”
Rory came through the archway from the main foyer side and stood aghast. Behind him, he could hear the Grim Reaper floating his way into the room. He hated the Reaper. Hated the pain and suffering he brought with him. Rory got down on a knee and checked to see if his father had a pulse. None. He was gone.
“He didn’t even get a chance to enjoy his promotion. Seems so wrong, somehow. Worked hard his entire life …” Rory sighed.
“Grandpa was very excited. He smiled a lot. Told me he was going to be the main comedian, now. He sure had fun on the slippery slide, didn’t he? I miss him.” Jaron began to weep.
Ericka hugged her little son to herself. “Now, now, you know Grandpa wouldn’t want us all to cry. We should throw him a Wake.”
“Why don’t we just wake him up right now?”
“No, I said a Wake,” his mother said gently.
“Oh. So you don’t mean what you’re doing when you’re not sleeping — Then, what’s a wake?”
“That’s a party for those who have passed away, son,” Rory said. “So that when they look down at us from above, they know we’re going to be just fine. I think it’s a marvelous idea, Dear. I think Dad would approve of it. Yes, we can invite all of his friends. I’ll just go draw up a list.” Rory drew in a breath, and rubbed the tears from his eyes.
“Oh, well, if you insist,” Ericka sighed. “Just not right this minute. I think I need to go cry this out, first.”