Before too long, James had a little brother. His parents named the baby Johnny. He, too, had human skin. Ericka went to work just prior to this second baby’s birth. She also chose the Espionage Career. Ericka found it fun working with her sister-in-law, Aubrey, which gave the two women a chance to get better acquainted.
Once Johnny burst out of his bassinet, the parents bought another junior bed. By rearranging a few items of furniture, it made for a cozy bedroom for the boys. The boys grew very close. They were best buddies, in fact. However, the peace was shattered when Johnny spotted this alleged monster underneath his bed, too. Were there two monsters? Or just two little boys with hyper-active imaginations?
Whatever it was, Rory and Ericka decided the only way they were going to get a proper night’s sleep again, and the boys, too, would be to switch bedrooms. Once again the Game Room upstairs was re-purposed as the boys were moved into this ample-sized room, child’s lab table, too. The puppet stage was moved onto the back patio, where they boys could perform to larger audiences.
The ‘cursed’ room became the Game Room. Rory was anxious to see if this was enough of a change to banish this monster or monsters from his boys’ life for good? In the meantime, the boys spent a great deal of time together. They went to the Magnolia Park in search of special foil packs of Voidcritter cards. The latest craze in kid card games. Both were fortunate. The next day, Sunday, they went to the park in Oasis Spring. There James, who was only days away from becoming a teen, met a very sweet girl. The two struck up a conversation and James hoped to make her his friend.
This friendship took Rory back a few years. He met Ericka in grade school, too.
Ericka was now expecting their third child. Rory was excited and wondered if he would be blessed with a baby girl, this time. He loved his boys, but a girl would be very nice, too. Besides, the boys were still having problems with this phantom monster, despite the change of rooms.
Rory talked to a few of his co-workers hoping one of them could come up with a better idea to counter this monster and the lack of sleep in the household. Before long the baby would be here and sleep would be next to non-existent. Rory got another promotion. He was now a Technological Innovator. The raise was nice, too.
Joseph’s birthday rolled around, and as the newly designated Patriarch, Rory, took it upon himself to plan a celebration for his father. He talked to Gramps, mostly. They thought of throwing a huge birthday bash, but that had led to problems in the past. And nobody, but nobody wanted to clean up the inevitable mess. The best and easiest thing to do would be to take the family out to a very nice, posh dinner at Chez Llama.
This time, the family managed to sit together using two tables side-by-side. The evening was fun. Joseph got up and did an excellent routine, something about “Who Needs Soap?” Rory roared with laughter, as did the other patrons in the restaurant. Joseph grinned, bowed, and thanked his audience. After drinks and their entree was over, Rory whispered to the waiter, “Would you please bring the cake, now?”
“What’s all this?” Joseph said, as Rory quickly dotted the cake with candles.
“Can I light them?” James asked.
“Sure,” Rory said.
“Aw, I wanted to,” Johnny moaned.
“Next time, it will be your turn,” Ericka quickly said, patting the boy’s back.
James, taking his role very seriously, lit each candle. The cake was aglow. “Grandpa, make a wish!”
“A wish? Hm, let me see now … I wish for …”
“Not out loud, Grandpa, or it won’t come true!” Johnny cautioned.
“Quite right, quite right. Ah, I’ve got it,” Joseph said, working the ‘crowd’. Then he leaned forward and taking a huge breath, blew out the candles. Or almost. He took another breath and tried again. This time the candles went out. All of them. The family applauded.
Joseph spun around and his dark hair turned gray right before their eyes. The “Roast Master” smiled, bowed and took a piece of the chocolate cake. Ericka helped serve the others. “Um,” he said tasting the frosting, “I hope this doesn’t make me even older.”