The story of a hero is not always about the chosen one or a jack of trades master of all, sometimes a great hero arises out of accidents, this is one of those stories…
The rattling of the car jostled Thomas awake as he and his family traveled down a large rolling hill into the bayou. As his parents' blue station wagon peaked over the hill, he could see the fading sunset disappearing into the marshlands, as well as a small, cozy-looking cabin sitting at the end of the dirt road.
As they pulled up to the old pickup truck parked on the lawn, they found the French door of the cabin opened and a pixyish, ebony woman smiling behind the doorway. His Aunt Tanya came bounding out the door with her apron still over her green blouse and jeans, and she pulled him into a bear hug before he could even get his bag out of the trunk, "Oh baby, look how big you are!" she exclaimed with her head barely reaching his chest.
Thomas rolled his eyes and tried half-heartedly to wretch himself free from her embrace only to be pulled in closer into the crushing hug, so with a half-smile on his face he caved in and wrapped his arms around her patting on her back until she let him out of her grasp. She spun out of his arms to grab onto her next victim, which happened to be her brother-in-law, who also happened to be Thomas’s father. Unfortunately for him, she was just tall enough for her chocolate-colored curls to go straight up his nose. Thomas muffled his laugh and just shook his head and grabbed the duffel bag that contained some clothes and supplies in it and walked into the house, ignoring his dad's predicament.
He was welcomed by the intoxicating scent of gumbo and the sound of Billy Blackthorn rocking out on the radio, as he entered the simple cabin. As he slowly made his way to the guest room, he saw that his Aunt Tanya and Uncle John finally hung their wedding photos from last year, unfortunately, that included the one where he, his Uncle John, his father, Grandpa Eddie, and Aunt Tanya was featured happened to be the main star of the collection.
His uncle and dad were practically spitting images of one another, it probably helped they were twins, in their matching tuxedos, and stern hawkish faces, pale skin, ridiculously thin and tall frame, and wavy golden hair, with the only difference being his dad having a pair bifocals, and Thomas looking almost exactly like them exempting the fact that he was somehow taller and fairly filled out and was wearing a black two-piece instead of a tux; Thomas’s Grandpa Eddie happened to be his Aunt Tanya’s father who looked like a twenty-first-century Fredrick Douglas with his barely tamed steely gray hair.
The picture was taken moments before the disaster, with Thomas standing awkwardly in the background of the photo holding a solo cup as his inebriated Aunt and Uncle hung off his father and grandpa, right before the old dock gave way and they fell into the swamp. He shook off the nostalgia and decided to head to the guest room where he normally slept when he came over. He decide to ditch the pull-over hoodie and sweat pants for some jeans and a loose black t-shirt, and after he changed he started unpacking his things into the little walk-in closet and then his dad walked in, looking out of place in the rural cabin given that he was wearing a formal suit and tie, and told him in that nasally monotone only Dads from the Midwest had, “Your mother and I are going to New Orleans for a few days to have a little time for ourselves, okay?”
Thomas rolled his eyes and gave his dad a little one-armed hug, “Okay Dad, tell Mom I said not to worry. I’ll be fine.” The footsteps that quickly crept away from the door definitely was a dead giveaway on why his dad came to say goodbye in the first place. His dad flashed him a peace sign as he left the room and then his aunt stepped in.
“What have you been doing sweetheart?” Aunt Tanya said softly as she plopped down on the bed.
“Well, you see I ended up joining Reagan High,” he said, trying to mask his smile.
She suddenly sat up straight with a grin, “Really?! I am so proud of you!” as she flung herself onto her nephew once more. “Yeah, it was really hard to get into their three-year program, but I heard if I manage to do well, I could even get into NDU.”
She hugged him even tighter and then said in her sweet Cajun voice, “Hold on, let me go get John!” She left the room and then he heard her yelling from the front window, “Johnathan Anthony Walker, get your ass up here! Our nephew is here!”
A startled tone shouted back from the docks, “Hold on woman, I am a’ coming!”
The crazed looking man came running up the house with his headset on barely clinging to his neck by his ponytail, holding a small microphone-looking object attached to a cord that was plugged into a complex radio with a small screen on his back, which looked more than out of place with the work boots, wifebeater, and cargo shorts; and with the deep shadows on his face, and the scruffy beard he looked like a serial killer. The grin when he saw Thomas standing in the kitchen didn’t help his look.
“There is my boy!” he said, placing his hand on Thomas’s shoulder. Then he noticed the gumbo on the stove, so he shifted over to the stove with a ladle in his hands, “Oh gumbo! Sweetheart you get me so well. Ah fuck, that’s hot!” he shouted as the gumbo scorched his lips.
“Ah get over it sissy, anyways your nephew has some great news,” said Tanya mocking him.
“Oh really? Well, what is it little man?” he said blowing on another ladle full of gumbo
“Well you see, I got into Reagan High.”
“Hol-holy Shit! That is one of the top five private schools! Even your old man and I couldn’t even get in. I am so proud of you Thomas!” he said, dropping the ladle in the pot and wrapping his arms around him.
“Uh, by the way, Uncle John. What is that on your back?”
“Oh, this? Just a little modified sonar gun!” He said with a sly grin.
“He electrocuted himself with the first prototype, I don’t understand why you can’t just use normal sonar for that thing,” Tanya said with an exasperated face.
“What thing?” Thomas said, interrupting them before they could start bickering.
His uncle’s grin became more manic, “There have been reports nearby of fish being electrocuted in the swamp.”
“Does that mean there are electric eels in the swamp now?”
“No! That is the thing, the bite marks on the fishes' heads are more comparable to saw teeth than any known fish or eel bite.”
Thomas looked at him blankly, “So what is that supposed to mean to me?”
“It means there is a completely new species in the swamp, and I am going to be the one to find it!” John said with glee.
“And Thomas, I want you to be the one to help me!”
“Of course! Anything for my favorite nephew, I want us to have a fun time together! What is more fun than discovering a new species? Also, I already got some custom traps set up, and some night vision goggles in the fan boat…”
“Now hold on, Thomas you only have to go if you want to and if you boys do plan on leaving, don’t leave on an empty stomach,” said Tanya.
“So Thomas what do you say?” John said with a gleeful smirk.
Thomas got up and politely got some gumbo before saying with a smirk of his own, “You can count me in!”
“Johnathan Anthony Walker, get your ass up here! Our nephew is here!”
Damn, this brings some memories!
Love it already.
I am confused on how his father is his brother in law.
His aunt's husband's brother is his dad. Which makes his dad the aunt's brother in law.