Written by Mitch
Friday, November 13, 7:00 PM
The breakfast bar off of Adge’s kitchen provided the best light in the condo for the webcam on his laptop, and therefore it was the place to be, waiting for his parents to accept his Vroom call on the other end. They had at least watched the game, this time - that much he knew from their text message offering condolences on his loss that afternoon. But what he didn’t know is why they insisted on a call that evening, especially when it would be so late at night for them. Or early in the morning. What did midnight qualify as, anyway? The big hare was never sure, and as he considered it, he imagined it counted as late if you stayed up until then, but early if you got up for it.
The finer points of horology went out the window as a pair of familiar faces appeared in the window before him.
“Hoy dere, Adge!” An older male hare grinned at him from the other end of the line.
“Hello, honey,” the female hare next to him said with a soft smile. “So sorry ‘e game didn’ go yer way, t’day. But yew looked so good out there!”
“Aye!” The male nodded. “‘N ‘em refs are bloind! Yew d’served t’ stay in ‘e game, yew did!”
Adge smiled, blushing a touch at the compliments from his parents, Jacob and Olivia Martin. “Aye, Dad, but ‘e game’s ‘e game, ‘n it were late ‘nuff ‘at Ah wouldn’a been able t’ bring it back.”
“Rubbish,” Jacob snorted. “They need yew in there t’lead ‘em!”
“Heh, Ah’s not a leader, Dad; Ah’m a rook, ‘n Ah’m still proper green, Ah is.” Adge shook his head. “Were glad ‘e coach done saw t’ me stayin’ in ‘e startin’ loineup, too, after ‘e shambles Ah ‘ad few games back.”
“Not the game on Wednesday, Ah ‘ope?” Oliva asked with some concern. “We didn’t see it, but yew were on ‘e noightly news, fer wearin’ ‘e poppy. That were proper sweet of ‘ee, Adge.”
Adge nodded lightly, taking a moment as he thought over that game. It was another loss, yes, and a bad one at that. Yet he still felt proud, and a smile slowly returned to his face.
“Ah were thinkin’ ‘bout great grandad Ernie, ‘n great-great grandad John, ‘n their brothers, ‘n all us Martins wot went t’ war, ‘n all ‘em wot didn’ come back. Wot our farm done meant to ‘e country, ‘n our boys. ‘E food we grew wot done fed ‘em, ‘n kept ‘em goin’, kept ‘em foightin’. Them days moight be past, but Ah’m still proper proud of it, ‘n wot we Martins ‘ave done, ‘n wot ‘at farm done. ‘N wot ‘e farm’ll do again once Ah gets it back.”
The expressions on his parents’ faces turned dour, and all his father could do was nod lightly. “Aye, Ah think of them too,” Jacob replied. “But, Ah also know we can’t jes’ look back, we gots t’ look fo’ard.”
“That’s wot Ah’m doin’,” Adge stated. “Ah’ve followed ‘e plan, ‘n Ah’m on track fer carryin’ it out wi’in a few years, Ah is. We’ll ‘ave ‘e farm back, yew’ll see.”
“About that…” Oliva bit her lip, her ears dipping as she looked sidelong at her husband.
Adge’s own ears cocked, one up, one to the side, concerned by his mother’s tone and expression. “‘Bout wot?”
“Adge, we’re afraid to say it, but we moight need t’ ask a bit more of ‘ee,” Jacob replied.
“Wot, ‘e boiler goin’, too?”
“No, boiler’s foine, son, ‘n ‘e ‘lectrician yew got us did a proper job upgradin’ ‘e breaker ‘n woirin’, b’fore ‘ee asks.” The older male held up his paw on the video feed to stay another interruption from Adge.
“Tis ‘bout Simeon.”
Staying paw or not, Adge’s brow crimped, and he asked, “Sim okay? Not ‘urt, is ‘e?”
“No, no, Sim’s fine,” Olivia assured him. “Tis just, his university is shuttin’ down ‘e department he’s troying fer his degree in.”
“‘E gonna switch degrees?” Adge asked.
Jacob cut straight to the point. “No, ‘e’s changin’ universities. ‘E’s transferrin’ t’ Florida A&M.”
Adge sat there, processing it. He was in Tallahassee. There was a major university in Tallahassee. He drove by it every day to the practice facility. Surely it had a name. Some sort of sign. He had to know what it was, right? His brown eyes went wide as a fragment of memory from one of his drives came back to him. That was it. That was the university.
“Wait, ‘e’s comin’ ‘ere? T’ Tallahassee?” He blurted. “Whoy can’t ‘e foind another uni in England?”
“Sim weren’t accepted into any o’er uni wot ‘as ‘at degree,” Jacob sighed. “But ‘e were accepted t’ Florida. ‘N yer there, ‘n, well…”
The heavy sigh which escaped Adge’s nostrils was certainly audible over his laptop’s mic, and his broad shoulders slumped while his eyes closed. “‘N Ah’m guessin’ ‘e’s exptectin’ t’ live wit’ me, ‘cause ‘is scholarship won’t cover dorm, right?”
“About the scholarship…” Jacob started.
Adge’s eyes snapped back open, then grew hard. “Sim does ‘ave a scholarship, roight? ‘E’s got ‘e cost covered. Please tell me ‘e’s got ‘at worked out. Mom, Dad, yew’ve thought ‘bout ‘at, roight?”
Jacob and Olivia looked at each other for a moment, before Adge grumbled and put his head in his paws.
“Ah’m payin’, ain’t Ah?” He asked through them.
Olivia gave a slight whimper, and attempted to help her son see reason. “It’s not so much, Adge. ‘Special wit’ wot yer makin’, these days. It’ll mean so much to ‘im, and it’ll help ‘im get ‘is degree. And jes think, ‘aving ‘im there wit’ you? It’ll be good ‘avin’ fam’ly around.”
Through it all, Adge slowly looked up, and his heavy brow crimped at a particular word. “Wit’ me? Wit’? ‘E’s expectin’ t’ live wit’ Ah, too?”
“Well, ‘f course, son,” Jacob snorted matter-of-factly. “Ah mean, yew’ve got a place. Be roight silly t’ ‘ave yew rent two places, now wouldn’ it?”
“Ah’ve only got one bedroom,” Adge protested.
“‘At’s foine, Sim c’n sleep on ‘e couch ‘til yew gets a bigger place,” Olivia said sweetly.
“Ah don’t e’en ‘ave a couch!” Adge barked. His long ears angled back, and his brow was set, creating wrinkles along the bridge of his broad nose. “Ah’ve got a bloody chair, b’cause Ah lives alone, ‘n Ah’m ‘ardly e’er ‘ere!”
Jacob’s face went hard, and he scowled at the lens. “Yew watch ‘ee language in front yer mother, Adge! ‘N watch ‘ee tone b’fore ‘ee father, too! Tent no other university ‘ere’ll take Simeon, ‘n yer a bloody millionaire, so Ah think yew c’n spare a bit on ‘ee own brother! Ye’ll need a qualifoied ag’er’cul’churral engineer if’n ‘ee wants t’ run ‘e farm again, so yew c’n jes shut ‘e self-centered mouth ‘n look at ‘e bigger pic’cur!”
As Adge seethed, Oliva tried to help. “Besides, if’n yer ‘ardly ever there, it won’t be no problem, will it? Ah’m sure Sim’ll be busy wit’ ‘is school work, too, so you’ll ‘ardly see each other.”
It didn’t help, and Adge reached for his shaker bottle, giving it a few good shakes before taking a swig of his half-finished protein shake in order to try and calm himself and find the right words to say.
Wiping his lips on the back of his wrist, he looked straight into the camera. “Ah’ll do it b’cause ‘e’s moy brother. But ‘e best not be expectin’ t’ live loike no baller, or treat me loike no piggy bank. ‘E’s gettin’ a job t’ cover anythin’ beyond ‘e basics.”
“Don’t yew think ‘at’s a bit strong, Adge?” Jacob asked. “Ah mean, ‘e’s gon’ ‘ave schoolwork t’ focus on.”
“Ah ‘ad t’ ‘ave a job when Ah were in uni,” Adge retorted.
“Aye, and… yer marks weren’t wot Ah’d call stellar, son, ‘n we both knows it.”
Adge furrowed his brow further. “Ah still graduated, didn’t Ah?”
Jacob nodded to the camera. “Aye, but ‘e career yew was after weren’t lookin’ at ‘ee grades, were it?”
“Wot’s Ah care if’n Sim’s marks ain’t stellar, if’n ‘e’s gon’ be workin’ on ‘e fam’ly farm, once Ah gets it back?”
“And wot if ‘e new owners won’t sell it back, honey?” Olivia broke in. “Sim needs t’ ‘ave ‘e best possible chances. We wouldn’ send ‘im to you if’n we didn’ believe it weren’t ‘e best choice.”
The possibility of not being allowed to buy back his family’s farm was one which Adge has chosen not to entertain. In his mind, he was going to get the farm back. There was no reality in which that would not happen. It simply hadn’t been an option. But now, as the seed of doubt was planted, he felt it take root with his father’s words. Just as he could feel Sim already taking root in Florida, with him.
The pair had grown up together, sharing a room, sharing chores, sharing everything but girls, as Sim was slow to get out of the “girls are icky” stage before Adge went off to university. And therein lay another problem. To Adge, Simeon was still a kid. Adge had left home at seventeen to go to university, and Simeon was about to turn fourteen. To adults, three years of age difference means little, but to a teenager it meant almost an entirely different culture. Would Adge even know how to relate to Sim anymore? Would they get along?
“Honey?” Olivia asked, seeing Adge lost in thought.
“Oh, sorry, were jes’...” Adge started, then leaned back a bit on the stool he was sat upon. “Sim’s roight lucky Ah done well in ‘e comboine, ‘n e’en got drafted, b’cause if’n it weren’t fer ‘at, ‘e’d be in a spot roight tough. Good thing Ah’m ‘ere t’ bail ‘im out.”
“Yer not bailin’ ‘im out, Adge,” his father insisted.
“Oh, am Ah not?” Adge countered. Leaning back toward the camera, he tried to remember to look at it, instead of the image of his parents on the screen. “Ah’m payin’ fer ‘is university, Ah’m payin’ fer ‘is room ‘n board, Ah’m payin’ fer ‘is whatevers, ‘n, let Ah guess, Ah’m payin’ fer ‘is floight too, roight?”
“Loike any ‘o ‘at is a drop in ‘e bucket compared ter wot yer’ makin!” Jacob said.
“At’s not ‘e point!” Adge fired back. “‘E point is, Ah done wot Ah did fer ‘ee, ‘n ‘e house, ‘n payin’ it down fer ‘ee, b’cause Ah love ‘ee. All of ‘ee. But don’ go takin’ moy ‘ard work, ‘n moy generos’ty fer obligation, moind. Yew can’t go loinin’ me up t’ pay fer things ‘n jes’ expect Ah’ll do it. Ah mean, aye, Ah’ll pay fer Sim’s schoolin’, ‘n Ah guess ‘e’ll live wit me fer now, but, next toime yew need t’ visit ‘e Bank of Adge, ask me first. ‘E more wot gets takin’ out, ‘e longer until ‘e Martin farm is ‘e Martin farm again.”
He watched his parents lean back, surprised at their son’s outburst, a glance at each other, and Jacob nodded.
“Fair ‘nuff,” the older buck said. “Ah s’pose it jes came up quicker ‘an any of us thought, ‘n we got t’ discussin’ wi’out consultin’ ‘ee. We didn’ figg’ur yew’d moind ‘elpin’ yer brother, but it were wrong ‘ow we went ‘bout tellin’ ‘ee.”
“But yew will ‘elp ‘im, won’t you?” Olivia asked.
Adge nodded slowly, then finished off his protein shake. “Aye. Ah’ll ‘elp ‘im. When’s ‘e lookin’ t’ ‘ead over? After Christmas?”
Another glance between his parents, and Adge balked. “Wait, ‘e’s comin’ now?” He ran his paws through his short crew cut and long ears, trying not to growl in frustration. Out of sight, his toes balled into fists as he fought back yet more indignant range.
“Well, not now,” Jacob replied.
“Next week,” Olivia clarified.
“Next bloody week?!” Adge looked around for something to throw, but he didn’t dare risk breaking his shaker bottle - it was the one the team gave him, after all. Finding nothing, he turned back to the screen, his buck teeth biting into his lower lip as he glared at his parents. “Ah don’ ‘ave a place fer ‘im! Ah’ve got games, ‘n prac’is. How’m Ah s’posed ter get ready fer ‘im t’ be ‘ere in a week?!”
“Don’ yew ‘ave people fer ‘at” Jacob asked, ears quirked in honest confusion.
“No!” Adge shouted. The shaker bottle went flying, thankfully bouncing harmlessly off the kitchen wall, and back onto the carpet of the living room. “Maybe next season, after Ah’ve ‘ad some down toime, but ‘e season is all go, Dad! Roight now all Ah’ve got’s moy agent, ‘n ‘e tent no personal assistant! That tent ‘ow it works!”
“But yew don’ ‘ave a game tomorrow, dear,” Olivia said. “Couldn’t yew make some calls then?”
“Ah ‘ave prac’is tomorrer, Mum,” Adge grumbled.
“Well, surely not all day.”
The temptation to smash his head into the keyboard was strong for Adge, but he attempted to retain what little resolve he still possessed at that point. “Most of ‘e day,” he managed. “But Ah’ll do wot Ah can. Best get started on ‘at now, t’ be honest. Unless yew’ve got more surproises fer Ah, t’noight. Moy sisters ain’t comin’ along too, is they?”
“Oh no, honey, they’re doin’ foine, ‘ere,” his mother assured him. “And, please, we didn’ mean fer it t’ come across loike this. We… we thought yew’d be ‘apppy t’ ‘ave Simeon there. Your brother, someone you know, ‘n c’n relate to. We thought yew’d be glad fer it.”
Adge could feel the hurt in his mother’s voice, and his ears came down in shame. He’d been upset, and he’d shouted, and all his parents were really trying to do was help their children have the best life possible - even if it was on Adge’s dime, now. He could hardly fault them for that.
“Ah’ll be glad t’ see ‘im,” he replied. “Jes… little more forewarnin’ next toime, alroight?”
“Fair ‘nuff, son,” Jacob smiled, then stifled a yawn. “And again, sorry ‘bout ‘e game. Yew done played good ‘n ‘ard, ‘n yew made us proud. Can’t win all ‘e toime, roight? Wouldn’ be fair t’ e’ other teams.”
Adge chuckled. “Wouldn’ be fair, but would be fun. But Ah best be goin’, ‘n startin’ t’ make plans. Send me ‘e date Sim’s floyin’, ‘n ‘e floight number yer lookin’ at, ‘n Ah’ll get it booked fer ‘im. Ah’ll make it work, some’ow.”
“‘At’s all we c’n ask. Now, we best let ‘ee go. Yer mother’s not used t’ bein’ up so late, ‘n Ah ought t’ get ‘er t’ bed. Yew sleep well when yew turns in, y’ ‘ear?”
“Aye, Dad, will do. Yew ‘n Mum ‘ave a good noight, now. Ah’ll talk t’ ‘ee later.”
As the call ended, and his screen went blank, Adge went to lean back in his seat, only to recall it was a stool. His paws barely caught the edge of the counter of the breakfast bar in time to save him from toppling onto his back, and he rolled his eyes before getting up to pace back and forth in his nearly empty living room.
Simeon was coming, and he had a week to prepare for it, in the midst of a busy game schedule. How that was going to be possible, Adge didn’t know, so he fired off a message to his agent, before pulling up the Ikea website, and began to make a list of all the things he was going to need. More expenses. More expenses which meant that it would be longer still until the dream of the Martin farm could be a reality. But family was family, and you couldn’t have a family farm without family, after all, so the list of items in his shopping cart grew, as did his curiosity about just how much of it could fit into his Land Rover for pick-up, because shipping cost was surely going to be outrageous.