My Flock

Chapter 7

My 'Musketeers' and I ended up making three trips around the park, riding the steam train, raiding a couple of concession stands for snacks, then transferring to an old fashion river-boat named Liberty Belle for more sightseeing and drifting around for a long while before we finally drifted to the park entrance.

Despite my assurances that we would be coming back to the Magic Kingdom at least once more and my hints that I wanted to get Johnny back to the hotel to rest, we made the mandatory visit to the souvenir shop before leaving. The boys were studying the selection of Disney World tee-shirts when I saw something that brought back many, many memories, even from my visit to Disney Land in California thirty-five or so years ago, the little mouse-ear beanie caps.

After glancing around to be sure no one was watching I perched one on my head for a minute. Damn, I've never seen a Mouseketeer with graying temples! I teased myself as I looked in a nearby mirror. What the hell, all they can do is throw us out! I decided as I sat my cap back on the shelf. I grabbed three of the smaller caps and quietly slipped up behind the boys.

"Yeah, perfect!" I teased as I dropped a cap on each of the boys heads.

Carl, then Johnny and Mark started giggling like two-year-olds as they looked at each other. I pulled my camcorder to my eye wanting to shoot them, but before I could start filming all three caps slid off the smooth nylon headgear straps going over the top of their heads and fell on the floor.

"Look! A Red Headed Rat!" Carl hooted as he scooped one of the caps up and perched it back on Johnny's head. It again slid off so quickly I wasn't too sure I had caught it on my camcorder.

They picked on each other for another second or so, pushing the ear-caps at each other before Mark barked, "Wait! Wait I got it!" He unhooked his upper strap from his facebow and all but ripped it off his head.

I don't even believe this shit! I chuckled as I watched him stuff the hat's ears between his headgear straps and wrestled to get the cap/headgear assembly back on his head. I was laughing so hard I hoped the video I was shooting would be viewable as Johnny and Carl followed suit, helping each other arrange their appliances and mouse ears. Well, Disney will remember this bunch! I chuckled as several camera flashbulbs went off around us.

A few seconds later Carl surprised me by grabbing still another set of ears off the shelf, jumped in the air and tossed it onto my head. What the hell, I decided, and straightened the beanie on the back of my head.

We were almost to the park exit when I heard several high pitched hoots and hollers from behind us. When I turned around, Bobby, Timmy and Pieter were running toward us. A few steps behind was Mike, struggling as Adam leaned against him holding his stomach.

Adam pulled me off to the side a minute or so later when everyone started to calm down. "I can't ask you to interrupt your vacation, let me take him back to the hotel," he said in a low voice.

I was about to answer when I noticed Johnny and Carl watching us with worried faces.

"I feel fine, I'm just used to working in very air conditioned server rooms all day, the pool sounds too inviting," I answered loud enough for the boys to hear.

Adam glanced at the boys, paused, then whispered, "I owe you one my friend. Have Mark get out my medical bag for you, there's some Children's Tylenol in it give him two." "You guys do exactly what Mister Miller tells you, take good care of the old man." he told my three new Mouseketeers. "Come on guys, we have to go find some of those hats!" he said toward Mike and the others.

"Thanks Pop, ah Dad," Carl exclaimed a minute later as he pushed under my arm and hugged my side.

"Yeah, thanks Pop, I mean Mister," Johnny proclaimed, hugging my other side. Mark pushed his face into my stomach and joined or snuggle.

"I don't really like being called Mister. Why don't you call me Pop, everyone does," I suggested.

I heard no objections when we arrived at the hotel and I suggested everyone get into some trunks and meet at the pool. I had just changed and was about to get a beer from our little refrigerator when Carl yelled that he was going over to Johnny and Mark's room, that they would be to the pool shortly. I did what I'm sure was a bug-eyed double take when I stepped out of our suite a couple of minutes later, all three of them were pacing impatiently around the pool's deck, wearing nothing but tight fitting Speedos.

"This is all we wear at home," Mark explained, I'm sure in reaction to my surprised expression.

"They feel all neat too, can I get some?" Carl added, running his hands over his bony hips and backside. Time to go shopping! I told myself as I surveyed the firm little bubble butts.

The Tylenol, and probably the pool water seemed to help Johnny's leg for a while, but after an hour or so he seemed to be slowing down, his limp started to be more pronounced when he was out of the water.

My legs and shoulders weren't faring too much better than his hip as I played with them, tossing one then the next into the air and let them dive off my shoulders. My back expressed a rather pointed complaint when I bent, cupped my hands under water while Carl planted his foot in my human stirrup, leaned his hands on my shoulders, but I launched him into a high back-flip into the water.

"Hi Buddy," I half groaned when Johnny pushed against me. "You think you could let an old man rest his bones for a minute?" I asked as he raised his foot and leaned on my shoulders.

To my surprise he threw his arms around my neck, wrapped his thin legs around my waist and rested his pixie little face on my neck. "I'm a little thirsty too, what about you?" I whispered into his ear. "And hungry!" I announced loud enough for Mark and Carl to hear.

Oh well, if you're going to screw up your spine, I don't think there would be a better way! I decided as I carried Johnny, his tight little body still pasted against mine as tightly as his long thin legs were wrapped around my waist, the other two Musketeers right behind.

I managed to get a beer out of the little refrigerator before their assault began. Well, the twins taught him well! I smiled as I watched Carl take charge of what was shaping up to be a three boy snack assembly line.

I settled down on one of the sofas and was waiting for the email program to come up on my laptop a couple of minutes later when the patio door opening distracted me, I glanced over just in time to see Mark slip outside. He returned a couple minutes later carrying a plastic grocery bag. After giving me a timid grin he rushed to join Carl and Johnny.

God Damn spam, I silently cursed as I started deleting the ten or so junk mail messages offering to help me grow a three-foot long penis, another offering a free month's supply of supercharged Viagra to help keep it eternally erect. "I'm in a damn hotel, paying for this shit by the minute!" I snarled at my laptop's screen as a message came up telling me how I could earn a thousand dollars an hour stuffing envelopes at home.

Since I didn't recognize the next message's address I hit delete again before the message's large graphic finished downloading. Damn another one? I cursed when the same unknown address showed up at the top of the next message. Wait, what? I asked myself as a full screen closeup of Mickey Mouse appeared, and a very familiar pair of high pitched giggles rang out the laptop's speakers.

For one of the few times in my professional life as a computer technician, I mentally praised Bill Gates as I clicked on my Deleted Items icon and restored the last message. I almost bucked my laptop off my thighs when what had to be an eight-foot tall version of Goofy filled my screen, with his exaggerated paws affectingly draped over Ronnie, Junior and the twins.

"Hi Dad, we tried to check in, but you didn't answer your phone!" Jerry's voice announced through the speakers.

"Look at the next one and see who's taking our picture!" Jeff hooted.

A warm little body distracted me as it pushed against my arm. "They're silly," Johnny giggled. He slipped inside my arm and flopped onto the couch, pushing his thin frame against mine.

"That's Ronnie's phone! He does that a bunch!" Mark proclaimed as he settled against my other side.

My eyes bugged somewhat when I realized my hands were resting on their bare thighs. I glanced at them, but before I could react Carl grabbed my hand and pulled it around his waist as he snuggled against Mark. This is going to be an interesting week, I thought as I looked them over, all three of them were still in speedos and had put their headgears back on, mouse ears and all.

"Anyone know him?" I chuckled as I reached around Johnny a brought the message with Mickey's picture. "He sure looks like some kids I know!" earned me a fresh set of giggles.

Without realizing it I reached down and gently squeezed Johnny thin little upper leg as he squirmed more tightly against my side. When I realized what I was doing I dropped my hand onto the couch next to him, only to have him pick it up and put it back on his thigh.

"Look Dad, they have horses!" Carl announced as he set a small photo album in front of me. "They said we can go ride them when we get home, can we, please?" he begged in his well practiced whine.

"Well, I think we better talk to Doct, , ," I began.

"That's Ginger, she's my horse!" Johnny cut me off.

"And that's Hera, and Zeus. He's a stallion, but I can ride him!" Mark proudly proclaimed.

We were almost to the end of the album, and the boys detailed description of each of the what seemed like a hundred or so horses, when I heard the patio door open behind me. I couldn't help but think of Adam's animals a split second later when a herd of excited kids stampeded into the sitting room, slinging shopping bags around. A few 'Hi Dad!'s and 'Hi Mister!'s later they charged like the cavalry into the boys bedroom.

I felt my face flush when Adam stepped in front of us, realizing I was not only snuggling with two of his children, all of us bare-chested and alone in a hotel room, but also that I was still cupping Johnny's thigh with my hand.

"Well, I see you guys got comfortable!" he said. "Feel better, your ears seem to have perked back up!" he tittered, tapping one of Johnny's mouse ears with his fingers. "Would you be able to spare one of those, I'm parched," he added, pointing at my beer can.

"Of course, would you grab me one too?" I replied.

His "I hope you don't mind, I told all the boys they could swim for a few minutes before supper." immediately evacuated the sofa of young bodies. "Damn, I know I'm sweaty, but is it that bad?" he snickered after the three speedo clad backsides as they disappeared into the bedroom, making a show of raising his arm and sniffing.

As we filled each other in on our day I was thrilled that he was sure he had made a lot of 'progress', in his words, with Mike and even Bobby, even though I felt we might be imposing on him. He caught me off guard when he asked if I would 'allow' him to continue treating them, but especially Mike, after we returned from our vacations.

"Ah, , , thanks for the offer, but, I'm not at all sure where we are about insurance coverage, the only thing I know he has is Medicaide," I all but stuttered.

Tim's got to meet this dude, I silently snickered when he held up his beer can and grinned, saying "I'm sure we can work something out!" He really floored me when he added, "By the way, you are aware Mike and Timmy are in love, or at the very least infatuated with each other?"

Tim, no we, might need this dude's help! I decided as I tried to imagine my big biker friend's reaction to learning his only son was in love with a boy.

"I see Ronnie has been playing with his new toy!" Adam's chuckle snapped me back. When I looked he had turned my laptop and was looking at the boys' picture with Goofy.

"Well actually, it did come in handy today, I was at the pool, I guess in the water when they tried to check-in" I answered.

"More than you think! He's only had it a couple of weeks, but it's much more than a convenience, it's an electronic leash!" he replied. "I'm going to hang one on Johnny and Mark too, I wish I had before we left on our trip."

As soon as we finished our beer Adam announced he was going to take a quick shower and get in the pool for a few minutes. I shook my head and chuckled when I walked him to the door and saw the kids frolicking around the pool, everyone but Bobby wearing Speedos. "I think I need to go shopping this evening, or you are going to run out of clothes!" I quipped.

The boys were far from happy when Adam and I called them out of the pool and told them to get dressed, even when I told mine we were going to go shop for new swim trunks, but Adam quickly silenced everyone's complaints.

"You have to learn to speak their language, don't say shopping, or get dressed, say 'Hamburgers' or 'Supper'!" he tittered as he and I watched everyone sprint back to our rooms.

I hope Orlando is ready for this, I chuckled as we climbed out of the hotel's courtesy van a few minutes later. Although Adam and I both told our kids they didn't need to wear their headgears to supper, my three Mouseketeers insisted on wearing not only their headgear, but Mouse ears. As we walked through the mall they seem to enjoy the looks and attention they were getting, the direct opposite of any other kid I had ever seen wearing the appliances in public.

Speedo shopping went quicker then I could have expected, at first I had agreed to buy each of mine two pair to get through the week, but ended paying for three pair for each of them, even Bobby.

We had a brief scare right after we left the sporting goods store and started down the mall to find some supper. Mike and Timmy were walking together slightly ahead of the group, with Bobby right beside them when Mike froze in med-step; I could see his shoulders stiffen from under his baggy tee-shirt as the blood seemed to drain from his head, even visible from behind. When I looked further ahead of us I realized why, there were two dark complected bearded men twenty foot or so from us.

Adam seemed to pick up on the situation at the same time I did and rushed over to the boys, tucking Mike and Timmy under one arm, and Bobby under the other. He had just bent over to Mike's ear when a flurry of motion next to me made me look to the side, just in time to see the twins, along with Ronnie and Junior break into a run and rush in front of everyone. Jerry glanced back at us for an instant, causing Carl, Mark and Johnny bolt from my side to join the older boys, an instant later Bobby pulled out from under Adam's grip and rushed forward.

Okay, was this rehearsed or what? I asked myself as the youngsters formed into a human wedge ahead of Adam and his charges that would have made the Los Angeles riot police proud. Shit, I'd love to see their faces, I thought a few steps later when the bearded men stepped out of everyone's way.

Just a couple of minutes into our assault on the mall's Food Court, Adam and I both gave up on trying to sort out whose kid was whose, both of us following the little groups around with our wallets open, and getting lighter by the step. By the time our little eating machines were full I was beginning to feel like a VIP as all the mom and pop eateries warmly greeted me and my billfold with each refill, several of the managers seemed to be casting us longing gazes as we left the area.

By the time we got back to the hotel everyone's day seemed to be catching up with them, the boys even suggesting they were ready to lay back and watch some TV. After I changed into some comfortable shorts I chuckled a little as I walked back into the sitting room and surveyed the piles of blankets and pillows stacked just inside the door. Well, I guess it's my turn! I thought.

I was about to get a beer when another huge stack of bedding staggered in from the patio, carried by a pair of long thin legs, almost immediately followed by another blanket creature. After struggling for a second or so the first stack's legs slowly bent at the knees, then Jerry's face appeared above it. "Hi Dad!" he panted, flashing a wide, now headgear laden smile at me.

"Hi!" Jeff echoed as he appeared from behind the second load. The twins exchanged a quick glance then looked back at me with identical sad puppy eyes. "Ah, can Ronnie and them spend the night here Dad?" Jeff begged.

"We'll be quiet, and won't stay up later or nothing!" Jerry added.

"And my dad said we can if it's okay with you Sir!" the high pitched voice of still another blanket creature chimed in as it stumbled into the room, the three Mouseketeers right behind.

My eyes bugged as I looked at my three rats. They were still wearing their headgears and mouse ears, but now wearing identical brown Speedos that seemed to be the exact color of their huge ears.

I only had a split second to enjoy their tight little bodies before Adam appeared behind them. "You just told me Mister Miller had already invited everyone to spend the night." he scowled. The room fell deathly silent as everyone turned toward the door and seemed to turn to stone. Adam glanced around then reached to his side. "Please join us!" he added as he guided an ashen faced youngster into view, then into the room with what looked like a death grip around Junior's long, thin neck. What looked like the remains of the other boys shuffled in behind him

"Well?" Adam more growled than asked.

I had to suck on my lip to keep from laughing as I looked around at our little zombies. A second or so later I found myself taking careful breaths as the tension in the room seemed to be compressing the air.

"Ah, , , well, , , ah maybe we meant, , ," Ronnie stammered.

"Um, , , um, , , well we thought, , , ah you said, , ," Jerry whimpered. His invisible antennas pushed out of his head so far I was afraid his headgear straps would either melt or snap under the strain as he stared into space.

"Ah, , , well what we, , , yeah that might wor, , ," Junior mumbled, then threw his hand over his mouth. He took a deep breath and swallowed so hard I would have sworn his Adam's Apple ricocheted off his bony knees. "Yeah, , , Ronnie said that he was sure Doctor Miller wouldn't care if we did if Mister Pop said its okay, I mean Mister Jerry said Doctor Pop would want us to stay here and can sleep over and stuff, , , ah, , , I mean ah, , ," he babbled.

"Yeah! That's it!" Jerry cut him off, just as smoke from Junior's brain overload began puffing out.

"Yeah!" Jeff injected. He flashed an all but blinding silver smile at Ronnie. "I'm very sorry if I mis-talked, that's what I meant, that I knew my dad would say it's okay if your dad did," he added, giving Adam an artificial smile that made me feel like I was in a training session for junior United Nations Ambassadors. "Ah, mis-spoked, whatever!"

Adam and I glanced at each other, then both rolled our eyes toward the ceiling as Ronnie, then Junior almost royally accepted their friend's explanation, even slightly bowing to each other. I started to look back to the good Doctor to see if I could get some reading on his feelings, but realized I was far too close to bursting into laughter to risk it.

"I think you guys better make your bed before you get your asses in any deeper," I suggested, somehow filtering at least part of the chuckle out of my voice. Somehow I managed to grab a beer and make it to the patio door without being struck by the dozens of pillows and bedding flying around the room.

Adam and I only talked ten minutes or so before we decided to call it a night. Well, I don't have to worry about them staying up all night! I thought as I stepped inside. The TV was still on, but playing to a lost audience, everyone snuggled into their little groups and far away in dream land. What a great idea, I decided as I turned off the TV. I don't remember my head touching the pillow.

What I at first thought was Binki or Bandit jumping on the bed stirred me slightly out of my slumber. Still half asleep it took me a second to realize I was in a hotel room and not home, that both of my pets were three or four states away.

"Hi Turkey," I groaned as my eyes focused enough to make out Carl's pixie little face. He was sitting on the edge of my bed looking wistfully down at me. "What are you doing up so early?" I asked as I extended my hand toward him.

He flashed me a quick smile and dove under the covers, snuggling against me. Just as I wrapped my arm around his thin body the bed shook again and a mop of red hair popped out of the blanket snext to Carl. Without even looking I was sure it was Mark that squirmed against my back and threw his thin arm around my chest.

"I should have known you two would be close behind," I tittered as I kissed Carl's forehead cupped the back of Johnny head. "Where are your ears?" I teased, running my finger over his headgear straps.

"They're too hard to sleep in," Mark whined right before he planted a kiss on my cheek.

"Can we go swimming?" Carl asked. "Please, Johnny and them get to every morning at their house!"

"No way!" I answered. The bed shook as my refusal sank in. "This feels too good, I think we should stay in bed like this all day!" I added as I turned onto my back and tucked Mark against my other side.

"But, , ," Carl began, then crawled onto my chest and buried his face in my neck. "Please Dad!" he cried as he pushed his facebow into my skin and kissed my throat, as Johnny scooted over and pressed against my side.

I enjoyed the cuddle of their warm bodies for a minute or so, stroking Johnny and Mark's thin shoulders and backs before answering. "I don't know guys, it might be too cold this early in the morning," made Carl pull his face away from my neck and give me one of his liver-lipped frowns, all but covering his facebow.

I let them seduce me with their hugs for the better part of a minute. "Well, I guess you can go swimming, if you promise to stay dry, I don't want anyone getting wet!"

All three of them gave me a quick squeeze and sat up. They were about to hop off the bed when they turned back toward me in what seemed like perfect synchronization, Carl cocking his head to the side and giving me his classic lost look. I let them stew for a few seconds, then popped Johnny and Mark on their Speedo clad backside.

"Go on, and be careful until I get out there," I told them. They sprang off the bed and were almost to my bedroom's patio door before I could add, "Wait! Headgear, guys!"

Carl turned back toward me and continued to run backwards and snapped, "But we're wearing them!" his face silently but clearly added 'Dumb Adults!" as he disappeared out the door.

"That's the problem," I groaned as I heard three splashes.

Our morning was fairly relaxed and enjoyable. All of the boys swam for a few minutes before the lure of breakfast got to them, and soon we were back on the hotel's shuttle. We had planned to spend the day at Disney's Animal Kingdom, but after three or so hours the kids clearly were getting bored, and began begging to go back to the Magic Kingdom and its rides after lunch.

Ronnie, Junior and the twins took off on their own as soon as we hit the park gates, displaying Ronnie's cell phone like their Declaration of Independence as they scurried away. My Mouseketeers, ears tucked under their headgear straps, all stuck like glue to me as we began walking, as did Mike, Timmy and Bobby to Adam, this time our two little coveys staying fairly close together.

Several miles and rides later we were wandering around Frontier Town, and lucked into a very short line waiting to ride Splash Mountain, the huge water roller-coaster seen so often on Disney's TV ads. Carl and I lucked into the second from the front seat of our train of 'canoes'. It was every bit as exciting as it looked, when we fell off the what seemed like their mile high mountain, then threw what looked like a hundred or so foot wall of water ahead of us at the bottom of the fall my rectum must have sucked a gallon of air in. Damn, that's the foot bridge they show on TV all the time! I thought as I watched the tidal wave all but rip it off it foundation.

A few minutes later we were about to cross that same bridge when Carl, then Mark jerked away from me and rushed to the side of our walkway. "Look, look there's Jerry and Jeff!" Carl hooted, pointing at a train of Splash Mountain canoes nearing the huge water drop.

"Yeah, and Ronnie and Junior!" Mark shrieked.

Just as they did a sign lite up next to the bridges embarkment. It showed Mickey's happy face, but with his three-fingered hand outstretched. "Stop! Danger, Danger! Do not cross this bridge right now!" he proclaimed in his classic cartoon squeak. I managed to grab Mark and Johnny as they darted toward the bridge, but Carl was on top of it, cheering his brothers and friends on as their canoes neared the water fall.

I had glanced around to be sure Adam had the other kids in check when a somewhat angry voice yelled out, "Get off the bridge, get off. Do it NOW!

Oh shit! I thought as I saw two park security guards rush up the bridges inclined walkway, and the train of canoes go over the crest of the huge mountain. Carl bolted off the bridge, and away from the cops rushing toward him, at what seemed like Mach 5. The first guard, a seemingly well built female turned on her heels, trying to rush back down their side of the bridge, but crashed into her male partner, who seemed intent on sprinting across the bridge before the wall of water hit.

Oh shit, oh shit! I groaned as they tripped over each other and fell to the deck, just in time to be drenched to the bone as the ride's cars rushed under the overpass.

"Damn, DAMN! That's a fifty-dollar hat, I just bought it! God Damn kids!" the female officer yelled as she tried to stand back up, her uniform now looking more like a winning entry in a wet tee-shirt contest than that of a policeman.

"Let's go guys," I groaned as I followed her gaze to the soggy cap floating in the canal below the bridge.

I flashed an attempt at a thankful smile at her as I locked a death grip onto Carl's neck and started to usher him away, when he turned back toward the bridge and half giggled, "Wow! That looks like fun, can we wait for the next one?"

"Maybe later, Son," I grunted. If we don't get busted, I silently added, trying to ignore the cops' dirty looks.

Neither Adam or I offered any argument a couple of hours later when Ronnie called us and hinted they were ready to go back to the hotel and kick back, as soon as I told my Mouseketeers they bolted ahead of us toward the park's exit and the hotel's shuttle.

After relaxing around the pool for an hour or so, we attacked the hotel's buffet dinner, and what seemed like several hundred pounds of food later the kids seemed to be refueled; tired, but refueled.

We had settled into the sitting room of my suite, and the comfort of its air conditioner as we watched the beautiful Florida sunset through the glass door, when Jerry made an announcement that all but broke my heart, "We're out of drinks Dad!"

"You got a bunch of beer, but what about us?" Jeff sarcastically chimed in.

Shit! I groaned as my body refused to get out of its comfortable chair. Adam's face clearly reflected my thoughts.

I wasn't too thrilled as their plans unfolded, letting the boys walk down the street to the nearby grocery store. But their assurances they would stay together, coupled with Adam's assurances they would be okay, that Ronnie had his cell phone made the plan sound safe. I guess the high prices room service charged and my comfortable chair helped sway me, and I reluctantly agreed.

Yeah well, the twins are getting older, loosen the apron strings, Dad. And who's going to take on eleven kids? I told myself as I gave Jeff a twenty-dollar bill and told them to hurry back. I managed to get a dozen or so words of my standard 'don't talk to strangers' and 'look both ways before you cross the street' lecture before they slammed the sliding door on me.

They were gone a little longer than I would have liked, but soon the door slid back open and the twins, Junior and Ronnie rushed inside laden with six-packs of sodas and bags of snacks. All four of them were breathing rapidly and had been perspiring. I started to ask why, along with where the others were when I heard the boys' bedroom door open and several more voices echoed from the next room.

Jerry and Jeff deposited their burden next to the refrigerator, then left their friends and rushed to Adam and I, and still panting lined up next to each other.

"Thank you, Dad, very much!" Jerry proclaimed, flashing me a wide grin as he tried to catch his breath.

"Yeah, thanks Dad. Ah, thank you Dad! Here's your change Sir!" Jeff proudly announced as he sat a some bills and coins on the coffee table.

I felt a knot forming in my stomach as I looked at the money, in the fourteen years plus since the twins were born, the only time I had been able to retrieve any change from money I had given them I had to use death threats to get any of my money back.

"Hey, thanks guys, did you get everything you wanted?" I was about to continue, and leaned over to asked Junior and Ronnie if they did, but the knot in my gut tightened when the twins stepped to the side, blocking my view of their friends and the refrigerator.

"Yes Sir! Thank you Sir! May we go to our room Sir?" Jeff answered in as crisp a voice as the best any Military School Cadet could wish for. Three 'Sirs' and 'May' instead of 'Can' in the same sentence from one of my sons? I asked myself, SOMETHING is definitely wrong here!

"What do you have there?" Adam's asked. I tried to follow his eyes but the twins, clearly shuffling back and forth to block Adam's line of sight distracted me.

"Just a coke Sir!" Ronnie panted. "Oh, and I was a little hungry Sir!" he added, holding up a wadded up piece of luncheon meat. He took a small bite of it before dashing into the boys's bedroom, with Junior right behind.

"Something is awry, I smell a rat," Adam told me as the twins disappeared onto the bedroom, slamming the door behind them. A big Rat, or a nest of them, my stomach, then my groin silently answered. We stared at each other for a second or so, then stood up at the same time. Somehow I wasn't surprised when we walked side by side to the refrigerator instead of the boys' bedroom door, then downed about half of a fresh can of beer each.

Lord, what have they gotten themselves into this time? I wondered as Adam and I stepped into the bedroom and looked around. Carl and Mark were crouched at the patio door, peeking outside through tiny gaps in the door's closed curtains. When I first opened the door all the other boys were huddled next to one of the beds intently studying what looked like one of the hotel's bath towels on the bed, but as soon as they heard us everyone but Johnny and Bobby snapped upright and lined up forming a human shield of skinny bodies between Adam and I and the bed.

"Hi Sir!" Jerry blushed, flashing a guilty grin that reminded me of the cartoon cat that ate the canary so much I thought I saw feathers stuck in his braces.

As soon as he glanced to his side everyone else chimed in an identical 'hi sir' in harmony that would have made the conductor of the Vienna Boys Choir beam with pride; even Carl and Mark joined in the greeting before turning back around and resuming their surveillance.

"What's going on guys?" I asked as I stepped up to their human barricade. As I did I could see Johnny sitting wide eyed on the edge of the bed with a towel wadded up on his lap, and Bobby leaning against the bed's headboard in a semi-fetal position. "Excuse me," I growled at the twins. They exchanged glances and slithered out of my way.

The color drained out of Johnny's face so much his freckles seemed to disappear briefly as he looked up at me, then his brothers. "I was drying my hands, sir!" he whimpered as he rubbed his hands on the towel. "I was gonna get a snack and I almost forgot to before I eat, but see, I remembered!" he announced, his voice as artificially proud as was his smile.

"Oh Shi, , , ah, there they are!" Carl's hushed voice distracted me. When I looked around Adam was only about a foot shy of being next to Carl and Mark, and about to peer outside. My throat tightened so much I thought it was going to cut my breathing off when Adam informed me there were two policemen and a couple more men in uniforms walking around the pool area.

"Cut the bull shit boys, I want to know what is going on, and RIGHT NOW!" I barked.

Young eyeballs flashed at each other like billiard balls bouncing around the table after an eight-ball break shot for a split second, the twins' telepathic popping out of their heads so quickly they could have been the cue-stick.

"Show him," Jeff groaned.

Johnny gasped, shot Ronnie and Junior a terrified look as Bobby shuddered and let out an anguished sob, pulling his knees even more tightly against his chest. I was about to say something when Ronnie nodded at his carrot topped brother.

Johnny took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and very gingerly stroked the towel several times as he whispered to it. I fought off panic as he unfolded the towel and revealed what looked like a huge, bug-eyed sewer rat sitting on his lap. About eight or nine inches long including its thick tail, that was almost as long as its torso, the only thing that distinguished it from being one of the bigger rats from the movie 'Willard' were its slightly longer legs and narrowed waist, along with his short white fur sprayed with back spots.

The creature shivered as it looked up at me, its eyes seemed to be bugged out of his tiny head so far they looked like they were glued onto the outside of its skull. I started to reach down and risk trying to slap the damn thing off Johnny's lap before it could bite him when it showed its small, but clearly very sharp teeth at me, but it shivered and pushed itself tightly against the lad's lap before I could.

"He's Herbert, Sir" Johnny whimpered, protectively pulling the varment into a hug. "He's a Teapot Chihuahua." The rat let out a soft yelp and pulled his lips even further up, showing more teeth, as Johnny said, "I mean a Teacup Chihuahua, sir." "Oh, and he said he's 'Erbert', sir," Johnny corrected himself after the rat whined again.

Chihuahua my ass, that's a rodent! I thought. Shit, he's smaller than Binki! And a Mexican Chihuahua named 'Erbert'? I suppose he has French speaking parents? Robbed leftovers from upscale Paris restaurants? I silently snickered.

"And where did you find, , , Erbert?" Adam asked. When I glanced away from the rat toward his voice he was sitting on the opposite side of the bed from Johnny, with Bobby tucked against his chest.

"They were gonna bust him," Bobby sobbed into Adam's chest.

"He was all scared, and crying and stuff!" Johnny whined. 'Erbert' whimpered a couple of times and tried to bury his head in the youngster's lap.

"Bobby saw the cops and stuff chasing him, and then he told Johnny were he was," Jerry injected. "I mean Johnny found him."

"It was the Dog Catcher but they were," added Jeff.

"Oh, , , oh no, here they come!" Carl hissed from the patio door.

Adam and I exchanged worried look as Bobby whimpered and pushed against the doctor. I held my hand up toward Adam and started toward the bedroom's patio door, but turned and rushed into the sitting room.

When I peered out the side of the glass door there were two uniformed cops on the patio, but seemed more intent on shining their flashlights around than talking to me. "Damn," I whispered a second later when, just as I was about to step back, one of them noticed me. Oh well! I thought as I stepped outside.

"Good evening, is anything wrong?" I risked.

"No sir, but be sure you keep your doors locked," one of the officers answered.

"We're just looking for some kids we think fled into the hotel grounds," the other policeman chimed in. "Please return to your room, and if you see a gang of kids phone the Police Department."

Great, how much shit did they get into? More importantly, what do the cops know? I wondered. "Goodness, a gang of kids here? What did they do?" I tried.

"They stole my, , ," a sloppy looking man wearing a different uniform than the officers began, but was cut short by what seemed to be his partner.

"We just want to ask them a few questions," one of the policeman answered, shooting me a 'get lost old man' look.

"I'm sorry if I'm being nosy, but is it safe to be here? Perhaps I should alert the other members of my traveling party and move to a safer hotel!" made them turn back to me. What the hell, I thought. "My Goodness, street gangs invading Disney Resorts? That is not how the Tourist Bureau described Orlando, perhaps my group should cancel our vacation and find somewhere safe!" I turned back toward the door to my suite before adding, "This is NOT how the Hyatt, or Disney World advertised itself, I'm going to demand a full refund!"

"Perhaps my partner mis-spoke," one of the cops retorted. "They are not a gang, we're sure they are just some of our local street urchins, , , I mean some local kids. We think at least one of them witnessed an officer-involved traffic accident, and would like to, , , interview them."

"And they stole my 'dawg'! I'm gonna get wrote up if I don't get him back!" the sloppily dressed man snarled, hillbilly dripping from his voice.

"Leroy, they didn't steal your catch, you put it in the wrong pen and it crawled between the bars!" the other man countered.

I noticed one of the policemen lower his hand to next to his sidearm, I would have sworn I saw him scratch an itch on his trigger finger when Leroy snarled, "When I get a hold of that dawg again he ain't gotta worry 'bout no cage, I'm gonna stomp him like a Cockroach! Them brats too!"

"Why don't you go find your, , , 'DAWG'!" the officer growled. He scratched his trigger finger again then grasped his pistol holster and adjusted its position on his hip. "At present we don't suspect the kids, excuse me the young people, of being involved with the dogs's escape from our Animal Control Officers, or any wrongdoing," he told me. "There is one youngster we are very interested in, in interviewing."

He glanced at his partner before continuing, "The officer only sustained minor injuries, but drove his patrol car into a drainage culvert and rolled the vehicle over, probably totalled it." He took a deep breath before adding, "Unless we can corroborate the officer's description of the events leading up to the accident, he might have to pay for the vehicle."

I felt my stomach tightening as I digested his comments. "How terrible, I hope he is okay," I commented, as much as anything to give myself a little time to think. "Was the youngster involved, could he be injured too? What does he look like, or the other youngsters? I'll be glad to keep an eye out for them for you?" Yeah, it's working, you still can bullshit a bullshitter! I congratulated myself as I watched his face brighten.

"Thanks if you can help!" he exclaimed. "The other kids were in a shadowed area, the only thing we know is there was about was about ten of them, carrying bags or parcels."

He tucked his flashlight under his upper arm and retrieved a small notebook from his shirt pocket. I felt a tightness in my throat almost identical to the one in my stomach as he described what could have been either Carl or Mark's height, build, ever hair color. They instantly developed into knots when he said, "Light blue Disney World tee-shirt and white knee length shorts," exactly what Carl was wearing.

"Go on, tell him!" the other officer tittered, making his partner blush slightly.

"We, , , we think the involved officer might have, have had his bell rung, , , or became delusional just before the crash," he almost stammered. "But he swears the youngster had, well what distracted him and caused him to crash was, , , well the boy had a fixed, thin almost reflective grin on his face, and, , , had stiff, , , ah, animal ears protruding from the top of his head."

"He claims it couldn't have been a cap or such, they were too firmly connected to his head," the second cop injected.

I took a second to silently thank God for providing enough shadow on the patio to hide what I was sure my ashen face. "Well, he doesn't sound like he would be hard to find," I commented, trying to keep my voice steady. "I will keep an eye out for him, and call if I see him," I offered, turning toward the door.

"Thanks, and be sure to lock your door," one of them answered. Oh, don't worry! I thought as I stepped inside.

Adam startled me when he stepped back from the door to let me in. "Any thoughts?" I asked him as I rearranged the curtains to be sure they blocked any view from outside.

Before he could answer our entire flock of kids rushed out of my boys' bedroom and lined up, staring at us wide-eyed. "Oh," Jeff mumbled and darted to the refrigerator, then rushed to us with two beers.

The kids shuffled their feet as they exchanged glances between each other, and at Adam and I. A second or so later Erbert pushed his tiny head out of the collar of Bobby's tee-shirt and whimpered softly. He shot Adam and I a bug-eyed look then tucked his tiny snout under Bobby's chin.

"Please Mister, please don't let them get Herbie sir, I mean Pop!" Bobby whimpered in an ear-piercing high voice.

Johnny leaned into a snuggle with Bobby and the dog. "That man hit him and stuff, he's really, , ,"

"No one is going to hurt him," I cut Johnny off. I glanced over at Adam, wondering if Johnny was really communicating live time with the little rat/dog before risking, "Is Erbert house brok, , ,"

"Potty trained?" Adam cut me off. "We are not suppose to have pets in the hotel rooms."

I started wondering if all this was real, or if I was having a flashback from my deviant childhood when the little rat jerked his head around, give Adam and I a very indignant glare, then turned away, tucking his head against the side of Bobby's neck, just the back of his head showing.

"Dad! Pop! That was, well he's almost a year old, he don't do that stuff!" Johnny declared, his face as irate as Erbert's had been.

Dad told me not to smoke that shit, why didn't I listen? I thought. I waited a second or so, hoping my bad trip would end. I glanced around, I'm sure looking for a way out."You guys make your nest, ah bed, and make room for Erbert, it has been a long day." causing a storm of activity as the piles of blankets and pillows began flying onto the carpet.

"What do you think?" I whispered to Adam.

"Their not getting Erbert, I know that much," he answered. "But, we can't keep a dog in the hotel, not only could we be kicked out, but would end up paying for any damages they want to claim he caused."

"And I could end up paying for a police car if they find out who Carl is," I groaned.

We turned away from the boys and stared at each other for the better part of a minute. "I think it's time to get out of Dodge, you think your guys would like to go horseback riding? I know of a Horse Ranch where we could finish our vacation!"

To Be Continued…