The Tracy family was winging its way back to the South Pacific after a week of fun and frolic in England. The previous day had been Jeff’s birthday, and to his surprise, the gag gift that Gordon usually presented him with was missing. Instead, he was presented with the latest electronic PDA with a tiny plasma screen.
“Thank you, Gordon, for the wonderful gift,” Jeff said with a smile. “I didn’t think you’d take this ‘no jokes’ quite this far, but I appreciate it.”
“Hey, gotta start somewhere,” was Gordon’s laconic response.
On the way back, three of the brothers played poker in the passenger cabin while Scott co-piloted with their father. Absent from the little card playing group was Gordon, who was alternately reading or watching over Eleanor, offering to get her anything she needed.
“It’s good to have you on earth, John,” Virgil said as he looked at his cards. “It was nice of Brains to offer to take a rotation in Thunderbird Five so you could be with us over the holidays.”
“Yeah,” Alan said, putting up two fingers and getting two cards from Virgil as a response. “Too bad that Tin-Tin and her father decided to visit some of their old friends in Paris over New Year’s.”
“Too bad for you, you mean,” John quipped. “The rest of us wouldn’t have been able to cut in all night.” He threw some chips into the center of the tiny table. “I’m in.”
“At least with Tin-Tin there, I wouldn’t have had to dance with the Duchess of Royston,” Alan said, making a face. “And you would have had plenty of opportunity to dance with Tin-Tin. You may not have noticed, but we are stepping back in our relationship. Taking a good look at it and changing it if necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up just being good friends.”
“You’re stepping back, you mean,” Virgil said with a scowl. “I don’t think Tin-Tin is of the same mind. I call.”
“Sure, she is. Do you think her father would have been able to drag her away to Paris if she wasn’t?” Alan retorted. “I call your bet and raise you fifteen.”
John watched as Gordon got up from his seat and approached the cockpit. He stepped inside, and a few minutes later, Scott came out.
“Going to join us?” Virgil asked.
“Next deal. Gordon’s sitting in as co-pilot now,” Scott said. He hooked a finger over his shoulder. “What do you guys make of Gordon’s New Year’s resolution?”
“It won’t last,” Alan scoffed. “No way he can keep it.”
“Like I said, by January seventh, he’ll be back to his old, prankster self,” Virgil added.
“Really?” Scott asked. “Well, I had a little conversation with Dad about it and I brought up what you said, Virge. Dad thinks he’ll last longer than a week, though he doesn’t hold out any hope that Gords will be able to keep the resolution much longer than that. In fact,” Scott smoothed back his hair, “we have a little wager on it.”
“Oh ho!” John exclaimed with a grin. “Dad’s putting his money where his mouth is, is he?”
“Yep. I wanted to know if you all wanted in on it. Everyone picks a date by which they think Gordon will cave. Money goes into a pot and winner takes all,” Scott explained.
The brothers looked at each other, and grinned.
“I’m in.” “You can count me in.” “Give me some paper; I’ve got my date.”
“Who’s going to hold the pot?” Alan asked.
“Dad,” Scott said. “He says ‘you can trust me’.”
“Yeah, right,” Virgil said with a grimace.
“Well? Who else?” Scott asked.
John looked over at Eleanor with a speculative eye. She seemed to be napping, oblivious to their conversation. “Maybe Grandma should hold the pot.”
Scott raised an eyebrow at John. “Are you kidding? She’d be appalled that we were betting on Gordon’s resolution.”
“Hmm. I guess you’re right, Scott. We’ll just have to trust Dad,” John replied, turning back to the game. “Now, where were we?”
The game continued and Scott was dealt in. Looking at his cards, Alan said slyly, “Y’know, guys, this might be a good time for getting some of our own back from Gordon. If he’s serious about his resolution, he wouldn’t be able to retaliate, if you know what I mean.”
“Alan, that’d spoil the bet!” Virgil exclaimed. “He’s gotta cave without any outside interference.”
“Right,” Scott affirmed. “Goading him to break his resolution is off-limits. Understand?”
“Oh, all right,” Alan said, pouting. “I just thought that this was a golden opportunity to get back at him for some of the pranks he’s played on us in the past. Like the dye in the shampoo.”
“And the spider in the bed,” Virgil said, wincing. “I wouldn’t mind turning that one around on him.” He sat up straighter and his face took on a pious expression. “But I won’t. At least, not until after he breaks the resolution.”
“I distinctly remember the skin dye,” John said, shuddering. “He said he wanted to see how I looked in green, as in ‘little green men from Mars’.”
They all looked at Scott. “Yeah, well. There was the time he gave me monogrammed bikini underwear for Christmas,” he said in a low voice, hoping his grandmother wouldn’t hear him. “Then he stole all my boxers and left me with those…”
“I remember that!” John said with a snicker.
“Still, I’m not jeopardizing my bet,” Scott said, turning his attention to the cards. “I call.”
“I call and raise you fifty,” said John.
“Ooh. Either John’s got his game face on or he’s got a good hand,” Virgil said. “I fold.”
“Too rich for my blood,” Alan said with disgust, laying down his hand.
Scott gazed at his younger brother, who saw the scrutiny. John’s eyebrow quirked upward in challenge, and Scott, looking at his cards, tossed the requisite number of chips into the pile. “I call.” He put down his cards. “Full House. Now, what do you have, Johnny boy?”
John smiled and lowered his hand. “Read ’em and weep, Scott my man. Four of a kind.”
Scott groaned as John swept the chips over to his side of the table. Jeff’s voice came over the intercom. “We’re on final approach to the island. Everybody fasten your safety belts.”
After the family had unloaded the jet, and everyone was settled at home, Scott, Virgil, John, and Alan all approached their father with their wagers on when Gordon would fail in his resolution.
“All right now. Alan picked the fifth; hmm, you don’t have much faith in him, do you? Virgil chose the seventh. Scott’s date is the tenth. John’s is the twelfth, and I choose… the fourteenth.” Jeff read off the list of dates. “I have the money here in the envelope and it’s going into my safe right now. Any questions?”
The Tracy sons shook their heads. “Just don’t tell him about the bets,” John said.
“And no sabotage!” Virgil added.
The little group broke up and everyone went their separate ways.
The day went by quietly as far as Gordon was concerned. He buried himself in Thunderbird Four’s maintenance. He swam his usual laps. He went surfing with Scott. He helped Grandma in the kitchen after dinner. Not a practical joke in sight.
Alan watched with growing concern. He was certain that he knew his next older brother better than anyone else, and that this resolution was a passing fancy. But the fact that Gordon had lasted even this long after coming home showed him that perhaps Alan had misjudged his brother’s commitment to the resolution.
So, what do I do? Alan mused. Do I just leave things as they are? I’m sure to lose the bet that way. He really seems to be serious about this! Or… do I hedge my bet? And get in a bit of satisfaction as well? I’m sure that if I gave him some… incentive, he’d come after me with another prank. He wouldn’t be able to resist! He grinned to himself. Sorry, guys! But I have no intention of losing this bet!
Gordon woke up early with a smile. Yesterday had been good. He had kept himself busy and wasn’t at all tempted to play a joke on anyone. Helping out his grandmother had felt particularly good; with Kyrano still in Paris, she was in charge of the house and at her age, could use an extra set of hands. In fact, he had already promised her that he’d help make dinner. She had looked at him with surprise but had accepted his offer.
He headed into the shower, pulling off his old t-shirt and dropping his shorts. Turning on the hot water, he stepped in and started to scrub. Pouring some shampoo in his hand, he rubbed it through his wet hair. It made a fine lather that he could feel beneath his fingers. He hummed as he scrubbed his scalp vigorously. Bringing his hands down to rinse them, he stopped and stared at the lather in shock!
He frantically thrust his head under the stream of water and watched with dismay as bright purple suds ran into the tub and down the drain. Without finishing his shower, he hopped out of the water and looked at himself in the mirror.
Oh My God.
His ginger-colored mane was now a deep plum color. Not only was the hair on his head a new hue, but also his eyebrows had been stained. He looked down to see, with relief, that his other bodily hair had escaped the dye.
Reaching back into the shower, he pulled out his bottle of shampoo and poured it into the sink. The usual clear goop was a violent violet color.
How the hell…?
His mind flashed back to another bottle of shampoo and his own hands pouring a red chemical into…
He scowled, and automatically his mind began to run through the possibilities for revenge. A scenario came to mind and he smiled wickedly. Then he was brought up short by another memory… the memory of his New Year’s resolution.
Gordon groaned. I am going to regret that resolution, but if I don’t stick with it, I’ll be more of a laughing stock that I ever would be with purple hair. At least I still have some counteragent from when I did this to Alan. I might not get it all out, but I should make it to breakfast without looking like a clown!
Drying off and wrapping a towel around his waist, he looked in the space under his bathroom sink for the non-descript bottle he had left the antidote in. Frowning, he began to paw through the cleaning supplies.
“Looking for something?” came a voice from the doorway.
Gordon turned to see Alan leaning against the doorjamb, holding the bottle of antidote between two fingers, and a digital camera in the other hand.
“Smile!” A flash went off and Gordon blinked.
“You’ve had your fun, Alan. Now, may I please have the antidote to the dye?” Gordon asked with exaggerated patience.
“This?” Alan indicated the plain bottle, swinging it back and forth.
“Yes.” Gordon held out his palm.
Alan grinned, then poured the contents of the bottle into the outstretched hand.
Gordon cursed and brought up the other hand to try and catch the liquid. A goodly amount splashed on the floor, but he managed to salvage enough to rub through his hair. Alan laughed as his brother leapt back into the tub and turned on the water.
“Remember, Gords! Cold water only!” he crowed as he left Gordon’s quarters.
A half hour later, Gordon arrived at the breakfast table, his hair a strange shade of puce and his eyebrows still a dark violet. His father took one look at him and shook his head. Scott grinned, while John tried hard to stifle a laugh. Virgil leaned over and said, “Maybe you should wear John’s sash from now on. That orange is going to clash with your hair.” Alan sat back looking like the cat who ate the canary.
Gordon said nothing, but sat down to eat his breakfast. Eleanor took one look at him, and at Alan’s expression, and after breakfast she took her youngest grandson aside and put him to work washing the breakfast dishes by hand.
Alan waited all day for Gordon to exact his retribution. He even waited up to see if his brother was going to put something nasty in his bed. But he waited in vain.
I can’t believe it! Everything I did and… nothing! He stuck to his guns. I never thought I’d see the day. Well, Virgil’s up next. Let’s see if Gordon can go the whole week!