Renunciation

The annual New Year’s Eve bash at Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward’s palatial mansion was the usual big success. There was plenty of food, plenty of drink, plenty of music, plenty of dancing, and plenty of pretty girls to dance with.

Gordon Tracy was feeling mighty happy with himself and the world at large. He and his family had made it through another year of hairbreadth escapes as the operatives of International Rescue. He was proud of his family, proud of the tradition that they had started and of the services that they provided, rescuing those who had no hope.

He wandered out onto the terrace, breathing in the chill and bracing air, carrying with him a glass of scotch. The clear night was a rarity in England this time of year, and Gordon found it refreshing compared to the heat being generated inside the ballroom. Besides, Her Grace, Deborah the Duchess of Royston, had been looking for a Tracy, any Tracy, to dance with and he had no intention of being the sacrificial lamb this year!

His attention was drawn to a familiar, deep voice conversing with someone not far away. Moving quietly, he drew near to find his father, billionaire Jeff Tracy, in conversation with his old friend and confidante, Lady Penelope.

“I don’t know, Penny. I wish I could make him see that all of his fooling around is hurtful. I just wish he’d get serious about things,” Jeff said.

“I’m sure he would, Jeff, if you confronted him about it,” Penelope replied. The two moved away, still talking, but Gordon stood in utter shock.

Fooling around? Hurtful? Get serious? Could Dad be talking about… me?

Gordon knew only too well his reputation as a happy-go-lucky young man with a keen sense of wit and an eye to practical jokes. His outlook on life was one of “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants”, and had been ever since his horrific hydrofoil accident. Life was too short to waste on being solemn and full of angst; it was better to live and enjoy life while you had it. But now, as he gave his father’s words serious consideration, he could see that his practical jokes could be hurtful to his brothers.

He tried to be careful; his pranks were usually more detrimental to pride than to the actual body. Though he could think of a couple of times when his jokes went wrong and more lasting damage was done. Like the time Virgil actually got bitten by the spider in his bed, or when Alan got the dye from the shampoo in his eyes and Brains had to step in with emergency medical treatment.

I guess Dad’s right. I should be more serious and stop fooling around. Or else I might really hurt somebody.

He sighed and tossed off the rest of his scotch. Then he straightened up and went in search of the rest of his family.

It was a tradition with the Tracys that once the stroke of midnight had passed and the guests had gone away, they would gather in the small drawing room of Lady Penelope’s manor house and, as a family, toast their absent wife and mother, Lucille, then reminisce about the year just past. This year was no different. Jeff and his sons met in the richly appointed room, along with Jeff’s mother, Eleanor, and had a session of “remember when”. The incidents brought the family alternately to the somberness of sorrow, the laughter brought on by comedy, and the pride engendered by a job well done.

When things were winding down, and individuals were making toasts of their own, and joking about New Year’s resolutions, Gordon cleared his throat. Everyone’s attention focused on him, and suddenly he felt nervous. He cleared his throat again, and scratched his ginger hair.

“Uh… well… this is the time of year to… uh… turn over new leaves and all that sort of thing and… I… uh… wanted you all to know that I’ve made a resolution for the New Year. My… uh… resolution is… to stop playing practical jokes.” The last five words came out all in a rush and his listeners weren’t sure they heard him correctly.

Scott cocked his head at his younger brother. “Let me get this straight, Gords. You are telling us that you’re turning over a new leaf? That you resolve not to play practical jokes on us?”

Gordon scratched his head again, and looked at his shoes, then sideways up at Scott. “Uh… yeah. That’s what I said. No more practical jokes. My… uh… New Year’s resolution.”

His brothers looked at each other, then burst out laughing.

“Oh, that’s a good one!” crowed Alan, pointing at his older brother and, quite often, partner in crime. “You, the king of the jesters, giving up pranks? Never happen.”

“I give you a week,” Virgil chimed in, laughing. “Not even that! There’s no way on earth you can stop with the practical jokes!”

“I agree with Virge. There’s no way! Though I must admit,” added a grinning John, down from Thunderbird Five for the holidays, “it’ll be a hoot to see you try!”

Gordon’s face flushed red, and took on a stubborn look. He pointed at his brothers and said angrily, “You wait! You just wait and see! None of you are taking me seriously, but I’ll keep this resolution!”

“Whoa! Calm down, son!” Jeff said, stepping in and putting an arm around Gordon’s shoulders. “I’ll have to admit that it would be very nice to have some serenity around the house and not have to deal with the fallout from some of your more… inventive pranks. But don’t you think you’re taking this a little too far?”

“Don’t you think I can do it, Dad?” Gordon asked, looking his father in the eye.

Jeff sighed. “Gordon, you can do anything you put your mind to.”

“Thanks for the support, Dad.” He turned to his brothers. “You bozos just watch and be amazed. A new, serious Gordon Tracy is on the horizon.”

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