Copyright 2003 by

This is a fictional story of loving between friends, young and old. If you don't like friendship, don't read it. If you don't like love, I'm sorry for you. If you are not old enough to legally read this, find your friend and have him read it to you.


Stocking Stuffer Part 18 Spring Break Part 8

Finally it was Friday noon and our entire tribe was meeting at the airport ticket counter. The boys were perfectly behaved although you could see the excitement and anticipation in the eyes. As I checked us in the harried counter clerk suddenly looked up from her computer screen and with a slight shrug she seemed to manage to shift some tension from her body. "Oh, Mr. Nick!" she glowed. "My son loves your books I have to get them for him first thing! I'm so glad you'll be flying with us. It's pleasure to have you. I hope your flight is as enjoyable as you make your books for my boy."

I couldn't even sputter a thanks when Steph piped up at my shoulder, "Hi, I'm Nick's boy. What's your boy's name? We're going to a book signing for Dad's new book and I bet we could get you a special signed copy? Don't you think so Dad?"

"Yes, Steph. That's very thoughtful, we can bring one back with us next week." I said looking first at Steph and then the ticket agent.

She beamed now with pleasure and as she finished checking us in she made a note of her boy's name and her name so I could leave the book for her as we left the plane. Handing me the boarding passes, she called over another agent and turned her station over to them. "Since you are all in first class for the trip, let me take you to the Voyagers Club. I'm sure your wait will be more pleasant there."

I could tell that Gene and Brian were impressed by the service, but I just grinned. They hadn't seen anything yet. When my publisher did something like a publication party at a convention, they did it right!


The Voyagers Club was as sumptuous as it sounded. The agent lead us in and directly past with receptionists with a slight nod. Taking us back toward the rear she turned a corner and suddenly we were in the middle of runways. The huge glass walls on all three sides looked out on row after row of planes being readied at their gates. The frantic spinning dance of the little luggage carts, the ponderous lumber of the larger fuel trucks, the bustling rise then fall of the caterers split personality vans was all so readily plain to view. For the boys it was like a rare earth magnet's affinity for steel. They were literally sucked to the windows by the spectacle played out before and beneath them.

The agent turned a smile at me and motioned towards the complementary bar. I thanked her and asked if we'd have to pay for window cleaning? I could already count the nose and hand prints attributable to our tribe. She laughed and shook my hand thanking me in advance for the joy her boy would get from his personalized book. Remind me to have the publicist send him the complete autographed set. Oh, also remind me to write him into the next story line. I'd love to see his face when he found himself in the middle of the action!

Gene, Brian and I headed for the bar. For the moment Tommy was one of them, glued to the window just like little 9 year old Mikey. We could hardly get a drink ordered as first one and then the next and then the first again and then the last of the boys kept running over and trying to drag us back to see what they had seen. The bartender just grinned and chuckled as we sloshed our drinks each time an elbow was unexpectedly grabbed. I looked around the room and found it filled with businessmen and women, probably on their way home after a week away from family. Most were stopped and watching our tribe with unabashed smiles on their faces. Once again, the joy of life and love contained inside our boys was lighting up a room.

We stood and stared, the dads explaining what they were seeing, the boys correcting the dads and the hour before our flight slipped quickly by. Gently a tap on my shoulder and a voice was saying my name. Quickly counting noses I saw all the boys accounted for and turning I saw a young man, uniformed like a flight attendant smiling out at me. He softly explained that our plane would soon be ready at the gate next door and if I'd like, the Captain would be happy to show the boys the cockpit before it boarded. Fighting for everyone's attention, I finally got them all corralled and introduced the young man by his name tag. Darien smiled at the boys and nodded to the grownups and asked us to gather our things and follow him. The boys quickly grabbed their fanny packs and as Brian, Gene and I took inventory Darien led us not towards the entrance we had used upon arriving at the club, but towards a single door next to the window wall. Swiping his identity card and entering a code he opened the door and motioned us out on a steel balcony. The heat of the tarmac jumped up at us and the noise of all the bustle we had been watching suddenly roared around us. My eager adventurous boys were a little bowled over by it all and suddenly every dad had one boy by the hand. Tommy could have been either one of them or one of us, it wasn't clear as he held Mikey's hand on one side and Scotty's on the other.

Darien yelled at us that we should follow him and stay very close together. There was no danger and we didn't have far to go. Turning he lead us down the stairs and onto the ramp itself. I was surprised with the heightened security that we were here, but Darien pressed ahead and quickly we were under the wing of the biggest bird I had ever seen so close. Sure I'd been in planes many times, but let me say, being IN a 747 and being UNDER a 747 are two very different things. It was humongous, as the boys would say. Darien pointed to an engine and yelled something about horsepower, then he was ushering us up a ramp in the plane's tail and we were quickly back into the relative quiet of inside. Inside the plane this time and walking it's full length toward the cockpit. The boys were buzzing together but stopped cold as we crossed into the spacious luxury of the first class cabin. Darien pointed out our seats and then continued forward. Stopping near the galley he took first Mikey and Scotty and ushered them forward and into the cockpit. I could hear the low drawl of a southern voice great the boys and hear their quiet "Yes Sir!" responses. Then they were back with us and Darien was leading Tommy and Steph forward. Again the rumble of the drawl, the two tone response, bass and treble, "Yes Sir!" and Darien was leading them back. He looked at us dads and softly said, would you gentlemen like a peak too? Just go forward and introduce yourselves, I'll get the boys seated. What the hell, I'll probably never have this chance again, so we went forward and I was more pushed in front than elected. I cleared my throat and said, "Uh, Captain, I'm Nick and this is Gene and Brian. Thanks for taking the time and effort to show our boys your aircraft."

"Not at all, Mr. Nick." he said turning a big grin toward me. "It's my pleasure to see such eager smiling faces. I'm heading home to my own boys now and it just reminds me what a lucky man I am."

He went on to point out and explain a few things and then I found him saying something that had us men responding just like our boys. "Yes Sir!" we said and turned back toward our seats.

As we sat and Darien served us another round exactly matching the bar round, Gene whistled, "Wow, Nick. We didn't know you were so important! And to think I've seen you in your underwear!"

I almost choked on my drink! Remind me to talk to my business manager about opening my own boys clothing store!

The flight was awe inspiring and uneventful. With four window seats and three aisle seats we pretty much took up half of first class. Darien provided impeccable service and I could see that Brian was impressed and told the young man so. I saw he also slipped him a business card and told him to call if he was ever effected by the troubles the airline industry was having. The consummate successful businessman, Brian was planting a seed that might someday grow or not. With such a positive attitude and professional manner I knew if Darien did call, Brian would probably be getting a remarkable find.

The boys of course were glued to the windows until the meal was served. Then they attacked it with their usual vigor and I kidded Darien that he better check the tray tables for nibble bites when we were done. Steph poked me with an "Aw, Dad," but I noticed he had nearly eaten the little paper wrapper from the cheesecake desert.

Deplaning in Orlando we made a more normal exit from the plane and I was proud to see all three boys hug Darien as they left the plane. Tommy shyly put out his hand and shook. I choose the middle road and both shook and hugged and told Darien he had made our flight wonderful.

Walking up the jetway we were barely at the terminal end of security when Mikey gasped and pointed at the uniformed man holding up a sigh with all our names on it. "What's he want?" Mikey crowded into Brian. " I swear I didn't take nothing from the plane!"

"Relax!" I heard Brian soothe, "He's our driver and he's just making sure we know we are supposed to find him."

Calling him over I corralled the boys and we all headed for baggage claim. Motioning to a Skycap the driver soon had the boys identifying bags and we were on our way to the curb. Arriving outside the terminal I praised my Wonder Kid Editor again. WKE was good, but I better not tell him I thought. Then I remembered Brian and his people at the fitting and I vowed I'd tell him and tell him publicly as soon as possible. The "what he'd done" in my praise department was to find the longest, sleekest limousine imaginable. There must have been nearly as many windows down the side as on the plane. As the skycap shoehorned luggage into the trunk, the boys were thunderstruck that this was our ride. I gently pushed them forward and finally Brian opened a door and started more or less shoving kids inside. Tommy was once again one of them, but maybe Gene was too! As Brian motioned me in first, he did a little bow and said sotto voce, "Hum, maybe I better see you in your underwear too!" I didn't have time to react before the inside of the palatial car was mayhem with squealing boys and hoots and hollers. Seems the darkness of the windows must have acted like a freeing balm and our kids were suddenly all over each other and us with, "Cool!", "Can you believe this!", "Wow, I've never seen such a big car!" and a hundred other exclamation and comments on the trip so far.

I grinned again, we had only just begun.

As the limo cruised through the streets and toward the Great Mouse House the boys were alternately pressed against the windows and ferreting out ever little nook and cranny in the car. They discovered the phone, the bar, the second bar, the third bar and then the TV. By the time we pulled in at the Resort, I groaned about the second window washing bill I was sure would be "taken out of royalties!"

The driver opened the door and as we all piled out a veritable army of bellmen began unloading the seeming ten tons of luggage. A uniformed door men stopped at the drivers door and then swung around greeting me by name. "Welcome Mr. Nick, gentlemen, and young sirs. Please follow this bellman to the lobby, your rooms are all ready."

Following our bags, the boys were practically tripping over each other as they stared up into the huge atrium. Then they did stop dead and pile against each other as the monorail came smoothly gliding overhead and came to rest at its station. I could hear the gears stripping in their heads as they realized the train was up above them and had come directly into the building. Getting them moving again, we ended up at reception with a young lady who once again greeted me by name and this time Gene and Brian too. Without any ado she handed each of us a hotel packet and confirmed the room keys and minibar keys were inside. Nodding to the bellman she wished us a pleasant day and we were off to the elevators. Disembarking from the largest elevator I had ever seen outside a hospital, we followed the bellman to our rooms. As I suspected we were on the luxury suites floor and as we reached a door the bellman motioned me forward. "Your suite. Mr. Nick" and he opened the door. Gene about broke his jaw it fell so fast and hard. The door opened on a marvelous living room with huge TV, lounge chairs, sofas and settees and complete dining area. Leading us left, the bellman showed us the giant bedroom with queen sized beds. Turning to Gene he lead him across the other side of the living area and opened another door into an identical master bedroom. "And yours sir." he cheerily grinned. "The other gentlemen will be directly across the hall, Please follow me sir. You share this suite with Mr. Nicks editor," he said to Brian. "I hope that will be satisfactory?" and we all followed in our best mother-duckling-leads-the-way manner to see a suite as delightful. "Will there be anything else now?"

"No, thank you very much. These rooms are excellent as expected." I replied, fishing in my pocket for some bill to tip him.

Like the limo driver, the bellman waved away my tip attempt. "Not necessary sir, it's taken care of. Would the young sirs care to help me place the correct bags in the correct rooms?" he said looking directly at Tommy.

Brian actually had to reach out and poke Tommy to get him again among the mobile and organizing the younger boys to get their bags and identify ours for the bellman. Soon everything was squared away into the appropriate room and the bellman left. He was no sooner out the door than the phone was ringing.

Picking it up, I found the Wonder Kid Editor on the other end and after a few quick pleasantries he was right into business. He was in the convention area and there had been a slight change in tomorrow's schedule and he said he'd like to come and go over it with me. Besides, he had to meet this traveling circus he was sure I had described to him. I asked for a half hour to get settled in. We rang off and I turned to find the room as crawling with boys as the limo had so lately been. Again it was a race to find the neatest thing and drag everyone over to see.

Scotty found the minibar and gave an excited, "WooHoo! There's a fridge! Maybe there's a snack!"

Thank God I'd kept the key, but the boys still tried to pry it open. "Hey what's wrong with this? It won't open?" Stephy asked.

"Well Tiger," I replied. "It's full of drinks and beer and stuff." Before they could get more excited, I quickly added, " And everything inside costs like ten dollars each! So, don't even think of cracking that safe. We'll get our drinks and snacks down in the lobby or from the machines. Everybody understand?" I demanded.

"Yes Sir!" I got in echo of our words to the airline Captain.

"Okay, now go put your stuff away in the closets and dressers, back here in 15 minutes in casual dress. Your traveling clothes go back on the hangers."

Everyone disappeared into their respective rooms and I marveled at the first real peace and quiet I'd seen all day. Just as I thought it was a real peace, Stephy's arms were twinning round my waist and he gave me a huge hug and "Love you Nick!"

"Love you too, Stephy," I said turning to find my little nature boy completely undressed. Hugging him tightly to me I sighed with contentment then tapped him on the butt cheek and sent him back to dress. Soon the sitting room was crawling once again with boys, this time excitedly running from room to room where they were trying the view from each of the balconies they had just discovered. Our side of the building looked out over the Magic Kingdom and everyone was oohing and ahhing about the Castle and the other landmarks they could identify. Brian, Tommy and Mikey's rooms overlooked the lake and there was just as much pointing and excitement over the sailboats cruising the lake and the obviously wonderful beach. As Stephy asked about sharks, Scotty calmly told him this wasn't the ocean, but maybe there were alligators!

The main suite was kid empty when Brian and Gene approached me. "Uh, Nick," Brian stammered, "Well we just noticed the rate card on the door and we want you to know that we'll, uh, help with the rooms. I don't think I ever would have guessed a room at Disney could cost $2,000 a night!" Before I could reply there was a knock at the open door and a yoo-hoo announced the arrival of the Wonder Kid Editor. Calling him in I introduced him to Gene and Brian and we were all trading small talk. WKE slyly winked and said he hoped we wouldn't mind that he was sharing one of the suites, but when he saw the head count and talked to the hotel he realized that we could all stay for the same price as if just he and I came AND it would require no additional funds beyond the publishers contribution. Remind me to praise this boy unmercifully to my publisher! I was just thanking him for ingenuity when the little boys blew in. Suddenly each of us dads was presented with a cacophony of "I'm hungry." "When are we going to eat." and "What's for dinner tonight Dad?' Calming them somewhat I got them turned to face our guest and introduced him to each boy starting with Mikey and then Scotty and finally, "My new son, Stephen."

Steph was beaming as he hopped across the room and gave Mr. WKE a giant hug and "THANKS! This is the greatest!"

I think WKE was a little surprised, but then hugged Steph back and looking up at me with wide eyes, he told him not to thank him, to thank me, it was my books that made it all possible.

"Yeah! He's a great writer isn't he!" Steph declared. "He's writing his new book really fast too!" and he beamed from me to WKE and back again.

"Well, that's great!" WKE said. "We'll have to talk about accelerating publication then!"

I groaned at the thought of him now calling me sooner and more often to get the next book out.

As we talked about where to eat and the restaurants in the resort, WKE was in mid sentence suggesting we try the Concourse Steakhouse when he suddenly fell completely silent. Looking up I saw him staring across the room and looking myself I saw that Tommy had just entered our suite. He was dressed in a bright yellow polo shirt and kahki chinos and he certainly looked like he'd just stepped off a magazine page, no wonder WKE had stopped talking!

Tommy was looking at me and seeing my quizzical expression he looked around the room. His eyes finding WKE, he too took a little pause and seemingly stumbled over his own feet as their eyes met. It was a brief little interlude, I think I was the only one that noticed, because suddenly Mikey was launched across the room and smothering Tommy with hugs. As Tommy picked up and carried his little brother over to our group, I caught just another moments hesitation as he once again locked eyes with WKE. Then Brian was leading us all out the door and toward the elevator and the 4th floor restaurant. I had to touch WKE's arm to wake him from the trance that had captured him, then we were all abuzz descending to dinner.


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