The day finally arrived. It was the match that Daniel Pleasant and his niece, Lucy Burb, had looked forward to all year — the Champions League final between FC Simçalona and VFL Simburg.
Since Simley Town FC is too low-ranked to ever qualify for the Champions League, Daniel and Lucy would be watching it on TV at home.
Seventeen-year-old Lucy Burb, self-styled “LB7” since she signed on to Simley Town FC four years ago, was staying with Daniel and Kaylynn Pleasant for a few days, because her parents were out of town. LB7 was a welcome extra pair of hands to help babysit five-year-old Parker Pleasant.
Demetrius Dreamer, Angela and Dirk’s two-year-old son, was also there for the afternoon.
Kaylynn had to leave suddenly for an ad-hoc cleaning task that afternoon. She had left some half-prepared cookies on a metal tray on the kitchen counter, which she would resume baking when she returned.
Daniel’s plan was to get the two toddlers to sit down and play quietly, where he and LB7 could see them, while they watched the match on TV. All seemed well for the first half, with a 0-0 scoreline.
After the Half-Time whistle, a news flash marquee scrolled across the screen:
Breaking News —
Charity Greenwood’s killer suspect released (**)
Sheriff Goode: “We got the wrong guy again”
“Wow. It’s been a year already, Uncle Dan. Wonder how come they’re taking so long to catch the right guy.”
“Yeah. The murderer seems smart enough not to leave a trail. He’s probably living like a normal guy, with nobody suspecting him.”
“Yeah, it’ll be scary if someone like him was secretly on our team.”
“Lucy, don’t worry. As the coach of Simley Town, I won’t allow delinquents like Dustin Broke on the team.”
“Uncle Dan, Dustin has been earning an honest living after he was released from jail. Besides, he’s married to Lilith now.”
Daniel frowned. “Don’t remind me,” he grunted, as he rushed off for a bathroom break.
Parker Pleasant looked up from the toy blocks that he and Demetrius Dreamer had been playing with over the last hour. Apparently, the older toddler had been waiting to catch LB7 alone.
“Yes, Parker?” LB7 smiled. “Are the blocks fun?”
“Yeah. Blocks are fun, but I want to play chess. But table is high.”
“Parker, the chess table is not for toddlers. You must wait for one year, when you age up into a child, before you can play.”
“But table is high for children too. How to be tall fast to see chess board?”
“Well, when I was a child, I was still too short to see the board, so I sat on top of big books on the chair.”
Lucy failed to notice a momentary gleam in Parker’s eye, as her gaze shifted to Demetrius, who was still trying to make a tower of more than five blocks high.
“Anyway, Parker… I’ll bring out more toys and books. Please sit down here with Demetrius, and be a good boy while we watch the match, OK?”
The second half proved to be more exciting than the first half, as Daniel and LB7’s eyes were glued onto the TV, faithfully following the ball’s trajectory, cheering and booing with the players’ moves.
They were too immersed in the match to notice that the two toddlers were no longer seated nearby.
Parker had silently lured Demetrius off to the kitchen. How the five-year-old managed to do this so quietly, the adults would never know.
Parker pointed to a bookcase in the kitchen, full of Kaylynn’s cookbooks.
“Dem, I have plan to get cookies,” whispered Parker.
“Wanna eat cookies?”
“Yes.” Demetrius’ soft-spoken nature, evident from his tender age, seemed to be working in Parker’s favor.
“Help me take books… BIG books. Bring books to me here. Then you and me eat cookies.”
The two-year-old boy silently removed the large cookbooks from the bottom shelf, treading noiselessly across the kitchen floor, and handed them to his five-year-old uncle waiting near the kitchen counter.
Demetrius was excited at how Parker easily stacked the books into a tower. In turn, Parker was pleased at how well his plan was working, and how he need not even tell Demetrius to be quiet.
Finally satisfied with his makeshift staircase of books, Parker attempted the climb, and successfully grabbed the tray of unbaked cookies…
The football spell on Daniel and LB7 was instantly broken, as the two immediately rushed to the kitchen.
They found Parker on the floor, bruised and crying, with the contents of overturned tray strewn all over the floor. Demetrius was nearby, licking one of the cookies.
“Lucy! Hold Parker’s hands! Don’t let him move!” ordered Daniel. Lucy was too flabbergasted to know what to do, so she was content to follow Daniel’s instructions.
Daniel rushed over to Demetrius, and took the cookie away, which caused the toddler to cry instantly. Daniel quickly checked Demetrius for bruises, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Lucy, take Demetrius to the TV now. Give him a sweet, and make sure he sits on the sofa.”
“Yes, Uncle Dan.”
Daniel grabbed the first aid kit, and approached his crying son, looking sterner than ever.
“Parker, you are a very naughty boy. Do you know it’s very dangerous to stand on books like this? Because they can fall anytime!”
Parker could only whimper in pain, as Daniel sterilized the large bump on his head.
“Do you know what you did is very dangerous? See, you got hurt! You could have also hurt Demetrius too!”
“Daddy, I want cookies NOW!”
“No! When the adults say the cookies are not ready, it means they are not ready! Parker, you are grounded. NO cookies for one month!”
Parker howled in disappointment and pain, as Daniel bandaged his wound.
“Uncle Dan…” Lucy appeared at the kitchen doorway, carrying Demetrius. “Simça just scored a goal. It was Torres, directly from a free kick.”
“Oh, Torres!” Daniel glanced at his niece and grandson in the doorway. “Thanks, Lucy. I’ll have to watch the repeat telecast tomorrow to see it properly then. Go back now. You don’t have to miss the match because of me.”
“Parker, you’re such a naughty boy, to make Daddy miss the exciting parts of the match. Next time, when you want something from the kitchen, you MUST ask me or Mommy. Understand?”
“Yes…” choked Parker through his sobs, as Daniel tended to the cut on his knee.
Daniel was grateful that Parker’s little bout of misplaced ingenuity did not result in any permanent injury.
Two hours later, Daniel was even more relieved when Angela didn’t sense anything amiss, when she picked up Demetrius to take him home.
None of the adults heard Demetrius mutter to Parker earlier that “cookies not nice, taste ewww”.
Angela believed LB7’s tale that Parker accidentally bumped his head on a counter, because Demetrius said they were playing tag inside the house.
Daniel did not want anything to endanger his relationship with Angela. He wanted to ensure that she would continue considering his home to be one of the options for Demetrius’ babysitting.
(**) News Flash: Charity Greenwood – See [Tybalt’s Exploits] for more details.
What thoughts run through Daniel’s head when enough of his descendants are old enough to play football?
What are his unspoken private opinions during the 2035 Encounter?
Find out in the [next chapter]…
GOALS OF DANIEL PLEASANT – Chapters
1. The Wannabe
2. Juvenile Match
3. His Biggest Fan
4. An Oldie But a Goodie
5. Pleasant-Burb Family Dinner 2015
6. Team Dynamics
7. The Trap — most “familiar” Pleasant family scenario
8. The Purge
9. A New Leaf
11. Pecking Order