“Bruno, are the lights supposed to dim when I push the ‘shift’ key?”
“It’s okay Boss, I fix later.”
“Bruno always called me Boss even though we never worked together, he was just my neighbor but had a knack for electrical things or things that made noise or seemed broken. He used to live in one of the Eastern Bloc nations where he claimed to be some kind of engineer before he came to America. Come to think about it, everyone I ever met from that region claimed to be an engineer in the “Old Country”. I don’t think that word translates the same as they think it does.
“If it starts to smoke again, use this, Boss.” He handed me a spray bottle that resembled the one on my barbecue.
“Maybe, I’ll just call my nephew; he’s a computer guy for Target.”
“It’s okay Boss, I used to be computer engineer in Old Country. You should see my computer, it purrs like a kitchen.”
Actually I did see his computer once; it took up most of one bedroom and had moving parts and wires running from one side of the room to the other. The screen was about eight inches round. There were two keyboards one in English and the other with Cyrillic letters on the keys, next to the keyboards was a green rotary phone connected to a helmet, like the kind in 1960’s Army helicopters, maybe our Army. On the other side of the room was the bed were four of his kids slept.
I thanked him for all of his help. On his way out, Bruno spied a broken clock-radio in the trash can outside the garage.
“May I?” he motioned to the appliance. “I can use that on my garage door opener. I used to be mechanical engineer in Old Country.”
“Of course, Bruno, take it.”
“My wife drove up as Bruno was leaving, she waved.
“Hi, Boss Lady!”
“What was that all about?” she quizzed me.
“I had Bruno put paper in my printer.”
She rolled her eyes. “I think you just have him over so you have something to write about.”
“That’s not true, Baby.”
On a three by five card I wrote with a Sharpie, ‘Boss Lady’ and chuckled to myself.
“You know you always make fun of that poor man and he only wants to help you.”
“Oh, I do not. He said his computer purrs like a kitchen.”
“Jack! And his name isn’t even Bruno.”
“I know but his real name is hard to say in English.”
“Boris is hard to say?”
“Well, maybe not so hard for you.”
“Remember, the boys are coming for the weekend.”
Andy and Randy are the grandchildren. They are eight years old and six years old respectably. They come up for the weekend whenever they can.
This Saturday, we left home early to eat breakfast at a restaurant.
“What would you like for breakfast, boys?”
“French Ghost! Grandpa, Boo La La!”
“Very nice, Andy and you Randy?”
“I don’t know. What do they have?”
“Well, it’s a restaurant, Randy. They have just about everything. Do you like eggs?”
“What kind of eggs?”
“I believe they have chicken eggs.”
“What kind of chickens?”
“I believe they are free range, natural, non-hormone fed Plymouth Rock egg layers that only listen to classical music.”
“No! They are more likely to be Rhode Island Reds that live in a cage the size of your cap, that are control fed and experience a metered light and heat protocol to produce three eggs per day until they are withered away at the age of seven months.”
“I’ll have oatmeal, please.”
After breakfast we went to play miniature golf.
“Is it called miniature golf or mini golf?”
“Good question, Randy.”
“Can I have the red ball?”
“Sure Andy, it will match your shoes.”
“I’m going to practice until it’s my turn. I’ll go up to number twelve.”
“No Randy, you stay with us. No cheating. Watch your brother play.”
Andy easily got his red ball under the big blue lion and had only ten inches to sink his putt for par. He squatted behind his ball; put his hands on either side of the bill of his ball cap and squinted at the ten inch path to the hole. He then stood over his ball, made two practice putt swings, eased into place, pulled the putter head two inches back and closed his eyes to calm himself before the tap.
“Grandma, Andy has a girlfriend!”
THWACK!! The ball went three mini fairways south.
“Grandma, Andy’s going to hit me…OWW!”
“Andy, you have three minutes to stop hitting your brother. Don’t use your putter to hit people, that’s why Mr. Wilson made five irons.”
“Okay, make that two minutes.”
Back in the car, we relived all eighteen holes of the mini course, all the way home. It was fun.
When we got home and started getting out of the car, Bruno stopped by to invite the boys to his house. They were having a party for one or two of his sons who were the same age as Andy and Randy.
“What kind of party?”
“It’s a party that celebrates a boy growing into a man when he turns seven. They serve cooked cabbage and play pin the tail on the Cossack.”
“Be back by four o’clock, boys.”
As the three of them walked down the street, I could hear, “What kind of engineer?”
Jack Haines lives with his wife, Ruth in the Pacific Northwest. He is a retired construction worker who enjoys writing, bowling and golf. His first book, MY OPIC OBSERVATIONS, will be released in April by Phoenix Rogue Press, with his second book, MORE OPIC OBSERVATIONS soon to follow.
Copyright © 2013 by Jack Haines