Sean shouted, “Did you see that, Papa? I made two free throws in a row!”
Marty Perry, Sean’s best friend since they were both two, yelled over him, “Mr. Savich, Sean wasn’t behind the free-throw line! He’s cheating. You give me the ball, Sean, or I won’t let you play my sax. It’s my turn!”
“Well, I won’t let you play my piano.” Sean ran away with the ball, Marty ran after him, and the two of them went at it. At least they rolled around in the thick summer grass rather than on the concrete driveway. The basketball—kid-sized and bright orange—went rolling out onto the street, hit a fire hydrant, and came to a bouncing stop against the curb.
Astro, Sean’s Scottie, and Marty’s big golden retriever, Burma, were dancing around them, barking as loud as they could, tails wagging furiously.
Savich said into his cell, “Excuse me, sir, but I’ve got to separate two warring basketball factions and rescue the ball. I’ll call you back with Sherlock in a couple of minutes.”
“I had four warring factions in my house, in any sport you can name. Call me back when you can,” Maitland said, laughed, and hung up. He had four grown sons, all bruisers.
Since it was safer to let both children pummel him rather than each other, Savich soon had both kids climbing on top of him, trying to hold his arms down on the grass. Marty’s mom, Lucy, trotted up, stared down at Savich, and grinned. “Ah, I think they might have you pinned, Dillon. Tell you what, let me take these ferocious wrestlers off your hands. Come on, Marty, let go of Dillon’s arm,” she said to her daughter as she peeled her off Savich. “As for you, Burma, stop licking faces. Come on, boy. That’s it. You too, Astro.” She said to Savich, “I can see I owe you or Sherlock a favor here for physical distress. Okay, Marty, Sean, how about both of you come with me. The magic genie sent some fresh lemonade and chocolate-chip cookies, extra walnuts.”
Sean and Marty instantly forgot their wrestling match with Savich and their own disagreement, and jumped to their feet, yelling together in victory. Savich hoped she’d made a couple dozen cookies, since both kids had hollow legs.
“I’m the champ!” Sean yelled. “Extra walnuts?”
“Yep, I asked the genie especially for extra walnuts, just for you, Sean.”
Marty was torn. “I don’t know, Mom. Mr. Savich was saying he’d play with us, you know, show us some moves.”
Burma, tongue lolling, barked, Astro joined in, and the two children laughed.
“You’ll need your strength,” Savich said. “Cookies first.”
Lucy said, “You might have to fight those mighty dogs for the cookies. You’d best hurry now, guys, chocolate chips don’t last forever, you know.”
The little boy and little girl went whooping across the front yard and next door to the Perry house, the dogs racing beside them. Lucy gave Savich a hand up, patted his shoulder, and took off after them. She called over her shoulder, “I’ll bring Sean and Astro home in an hour or so.”
He was dusting himself off when Sherlock appeared in the open doorway, wearing white shorts and a flowy pink top. She was lightly tanned, her hair pulled up in a curl-packed ponytail, the sandals on her feet showing off toenails painted a soft pink. She looked about sixteen. Savich felt the familiar kick in his blood when she waved and smiled at him. Ah, he thought, a hot afternoon, a fan stirring up the air over the bed, the blinds pulled, and blessed quiet—surely some things were meant to be. On the other hand, maybe not. There was Mr. Maitland to call back. He sighed and thought maybe they’d have some time this evening. Around eight o’clock might be lovely, not dark yet in the deep summer—he’d check her scar as the air cooled down around them, and who knew? Maybe Sean would miraculously be eager to climb into his own bed.
“I’d sure like some lemonade too,” Savich called out.
Sherlock laughed. “Then you’ve got to help me denude the Meyer lemon tree.”
He looked at her closely. “You’re not doing that, are you? Remember, your spleen became history only two months ago. Rest, Sherlock, you’ve got to rest.”
“Yeah, yeah, I was growing mold. It’s good to be back to work, back to doing important things, like making lemonade.” She touched her fingers to his cheek. “I’m okay. I won’t overdo, I promise.”
“You already did. You came roaring down to the Georgetown bank. Ruth told me you were outside running after that fourth robber, that Dane had to grab you.”