Gordon couldn’t stand it anymore. He just had to do something. It was driving him crazy!
“Grandma? Could you give me a buzz cut?”
“I am really surprised, Virge,” Scott said as they relaxed by the pool. Gordon had gone with John for a run on the beach. “After what you did to him… and he still hasn’t retaliated.”
“I know. I’m still looking over my shoulder, waiting for him to reach the breaking point,” Virgil replied with a shudder. “Though after what he had Grandma do to his hair yesterday, I’d think he would start his campaign of retribution with Alan. After all, Alan never did have to resort to such drastic measures when Gordon got him with that red dye.”
“Oh, he looks so funny with his hair cut so short!” Scott said with a chuckle. “He hasn’t had it that short since the Olympics!”
“Still, it doesn’t seem to have fazed him any.” Virgil adjusted his sunglasses. “I think he may be really serious about this ‘no pranks’ business.”
“And you were the one who was so sure he’d cave in a week,” Scott sneered.
“Well, just one more day and you’re out of the running,” his brother pointed out.
“I know.” Scott scowled briefly.
“And you’re the one who said, ‘No sabotage’, too,” Virgil reminded him.
“I know that, too.” Sighing, Scott got up. “I’m taking a swim. Join me?”
“Sure. Sounds good.”
Later, Scott left his shower, tousling his hair dry with one towel, another wrapped around his waist. He opened his underwear drawer and began to rummage around in it. His days in the Air Force had taught him to keep his room clean and neat, but his cluttered drawers were one bad habit he had gone back to when he left the military.
He fished around for a pair of boxers but instead came up with one of the pairs of monogrammed bikini underwear Gordon had given him. He held it up with distaste.
“Oh, hell. I thought I’d gotten rid of all of these!” He slung it to the wastebasket by his desk, and grinned. “Two points and the crowd goes wild!” Then he returned his fishing expedition. At last he came up with a clean pair of boxers, which he quickly donned.
A further investigation of his dresser showed a severe depletion in his wardrobe.
“Man, I think I need to do laundry!”
Eleanor was adamant that if the male members of the family wanted her to do their wash, that they had to get the laundry to her on a daily basis. Jeff was one who did this, as were Alan and occasionally Gordon. Scott, John, and Virgil, however, did their own laundry. They were used to doing it from when they were away from home and felt that Grandma really didn’t need the extra work and hassle. And besides, Scott thought as he prepared to haul his overflowing hamper downstairs, Grandma still uses bleach on all white t-shirts, whether they are decorated or not!
As he passed Gordon’s room, an idea hit him between the eyes and he grinned wickedly. Hmm. I think I’ll do a little bit of Gordon’s laundry for him.
Scott checked to see if anyone was around, then slipped quietly into Gordon’s room. He went straight to the bathroom, where he knew he’d find several of Gordon’s swim suits hanging up. Gordon only wore low cut Speedos, just as he did when he was at the Olympics, and he took special care of them. He wore a fresh one for each swim, and washed them by hand to remove the sea water or chlorinated pool water. Then he hung and them up to dry in his bathroom so that they didn’t shrink. Scott grabbed all that he could find, wet or dry, then raided the drawer where Gordon kept the rest. Returning to the hall, he pushed his prizes deep into his hamper and resumed his journey to the laundry room.
Arriving at the high-tech washing machines, Scott pulled out a swimsuit and read the laundering directions. Hmm. Hand wash in cold water. Line dry. A grin spread over his face. Not today, Gordon, my boy. Today… machine wash in hot water, and dry on high heat! But I’d better be quick about it. There’s no knowing when Gordon will want to take a swim! He stuffed the Speedos in the washer and started it up.
He consulted his telecomm watch. “Scott to John.”
John’s sweaty face appeared on the watch’s screen. “John here. What’s up, Scott?”
“Where are you and Gordon right now?”
“Approaching the path from the beach and headed back to the Villa. Gordon wants to take a swim.”
Uh oh! “John, can you stall him?” Scott asked nervously.
“Stall him? What for?”
Scott sincerely hoped that Gordon couldn’t hear the conversation. “Never mind why, just stall him!”
John frowned. “Scott, what are you up to?”
“Nothing you want to know about,” Scott shot back. “Stall him and I won’t tell Grandma where her best frying pan went and who took it there.”
“Scott! You… you…!” John scowled. “Okay. I’ll do what I can. John out.”
Whew! That was a close one! Scott thought, wiping his brow.
For the next forty-five minutes, Scott paced the floor of the laundry room. Washing the suits only took twenty minutes, drying on high another thirty-five. As soon as the dryer’s buzzer went off, he hurried to pull them from the machine. “Hot! Hot! Hot!” he hissed as he handled the suits. Flinging them into a small clothes basket, he hurried upstairs.
The hallway outside the bedrooms was empty, and Scott stole back into Gordon’s room. He took a handful of suits into the bathroom to hang up again as best he could. Holding one out for visual inspection, he grinned. Yes! This is a fitting reprisal for those monogrammed bikinis!
Quickly folding the remaining suits, he slipped them into Gordon’s drawer. Suddenly, he heard voices in the hall: Gordon and John were coming this way. Grabbing the basket, he bolted for the balcony, sliding the door back a split second before Gordon entered the room.
“Thanks for the tennis game, John! That was a good idea,” he heard Gordon say genially. “But I think I’ll pass on a second game. I want to do my laps before I’m all worn out.”
“Okay, Gords,” John said, his voice muffled from his position outside the doorway. “See you around.”
Scott moved down the balcony, away from Gordon’s room, careful not to pass in front of the windows. He walked down to John’s room, basket in hand, and peered through the glass door. When he saw John enter, he rapped on the glass, and his brother let him in.
“I stalled him for as long as I could,” John explained, then he demanded, “What the hell was that all about?”
Scott huffed. “I couldn’t help myself, John. I found another one of those monogrammed bikinis today and I just had to do something. So, I did Gords a little favor and washed his Speedos.”
“You washed his Speedos?” John asked, puzzled.
“Yeah. And dried them. On high,” Scott replied.
John’s eyes went wide as the implication of the deed struck him. “You didn’t! Those things will shrink to the size of… g-strings!”
“Yeah, they did,” Scott said smugly. “And if this doesn’t motivate him to break his resolution, nothing will.”
Meanwhile, Gordon pulled a fresh Speedo from his drawer. He noticed that it felt a bit warm, but didn’t think anything of it. Stripping, he slipped the swimsuit over his feet and pulled it up. Frowning, he pulled and pulled, trying to inch the garment up over his thighs. He finally managed to yank it up, but it felt very uncomfortable.
“Man, this is… tight!” he muttered. “And there’s no way it covers my butt!” He opened his closet, and looked at himself in the full-length mirror. “Ugh. Major butt cleavage! This one doesn’t fit any more.”
He pulled it off with some difficulty and tossed it aside, then dipped into his drawer for a fresh suit. Again, he noticed the relative warmth of the fabric, but put it aside as he drew the garment on over his legs.
“What is with this?” he huffed as he struggled to slide the suit up. “Have I put on weight or something?”
He removed the second suit and pulled out a third. This time the warmth sent a warning to him. He lifted the suit to his nose. Fabric softener? How the hell…? He thought for a moment, then the reason for the sweet smell dawned on him. Someone washed these suits and put them… in… the… dryer!
Frantically, he pulled the rest of his Speedos from the drawer and unfolded them. Lining them all up, he noticed that they were all of a size, as in, too small, and he groaned. Wait! What about the ones in the bathroom? Surely they didn’t go through the wash!
He hurried into his lavatory and pulled down all of the suits that hung there, drying. Bringing one after another to his nose, he smelled the same perfume, the scent of the fabric softener that his grandmother used in the dryer. He brought them back to the bedroom and lined them up with the other suits.
“No!” he cried. “They’ve all gone through the dryer! They’re all ruined!”
Defeated, he sank heavily onto his bed. “What am I going to do? I mean, yeah, I can still swim if I wear a pair of shorts, or even one of my short drysuits. But it’s just not the same! There’s no way in hell I’m going out in public with a pair of… those on! How did they get in the wash? I’m sure Grandma would have noticed them and pulled them out. She knows how I am about my swimsuits… hey, wait a minute! Dad took Grandma to Wellington today to shop! There’s no way she could have done this. And the suits were still warm from the dryer. Which one of my brothers would do this to me? It wasn’t John; I was with him most of the day. Alan’s had his fun, and so has Virgil. That leaves only… Scott? Why the hell would Scott pull a stunt like this?”
A brief flash of memory showed his brother blushing a furious red after opening one of Gordon’s better gag gifts. The bikinis? Could he be getting back at me for those? Man, that was well over a year ago! Still, for whatever the reason, he must have been the one to do it. And like the other two, he’s taking advantage of my resolution, figuring he’s safe.
He put his head in his hands. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I made this decision. But it’s so important that Dad knows I can be serious about life. He uncovered his face and sighed. “Maybe Dad and Grandma are still in Wellington and I can ask them to buy me some fresh swimwear. Or at least ask Dad; Grandma would buy me surfer shorts or something.” Getting up, he pulled on some shorts and a t-shirt and went up to the lounge to contact his father.
Later in the afternoon, Scott watched from the balcony as Gordon swam back and forth, wearing a pair of athletic shorts. Every so often, the swimmer had to stop and pull the water-logged shorts up to cover his privates. But he doggedly kept going, back and forth, completing his daily laps.
Virgil walked up and tapped Scott on the shoulder. “John told me what you did. What happened to ‘no sabotage’?”
“It went in the trash with the last of those monogrammed bikinis,” Scott replied, not turning to his brother. He shrugged a shoulder in Gordon’s direction. “Just look at him. All his favorite swimwear ruined and he’s still in the water. He’s got a lot of resolve, that’s for sure. I was certain that he’d realize who it was who did the deed and come after me. But he hasn’t.”
“And I don’t think he will, Scott. I think we have all misjudged Gordy’s intentions here.”
Scott sighed. “Yeah. And you know what? Life around here is going to be a whole lot more boring without his pranks.”
“Yeah. It will.”
Jeff and Eleanor were already on their way back from their shopping when Gordon placed his call. So he decided to take a trip there himself to pick out his own new swim suits. Jeff approved of his excursion, and for more reason than just the shopping trip.
“Kyrano and Tin-Tin are flying first-class commercial from Paris and they should be arriving in Wellington around three this afternoon. I was going to meet them, but since you’re going to be there, you might as well greet them and bring them home yourself.”
“Sure, Dad. No problem,” Gordon said with a smile. “I’ve missed Tin-Tin’s smiling face, and it’ll be good to have Kyrano back, too.”
“Then it’s settled,” Jeff said. “Have a good time shopping, and we’ll see you later this evening.”
Choosing and purchasing the Speedos didn’t take long, so Gordon whiled away his time buying more clothes for himself, or just window shopping. He tried hard to stay away from his favorite joke and novelty shop, but at last, temptation overwhelmed him and he went in.
“Hello, Gordon,” called the proprietor, Ian. “Long time no see! Looking for something in particular?”
“Nah. Just browsing today, thanks.”
He walked up and down the aisles, picking up things then putting them back down. Some of the items brought forth memories of pranks played before, and he smiled slightly as he remembered the reactions and facial expressions. But nothing else seemed to appeal to him; no new product jumped out at him with that blaze of inspiration that meant a great joke to play on someone. At last he tired of browsing, and decided to head for the airport.
“Thanks, Ian,” he said as he left the store.
Ian frowned at his back. “Now, what has happened to my best customer?” he wondered aloud.
At the jetport, Gordon found the arrival gate for the Kyrano’s flight and stood by to wait for them. First class was let off the jet through a separate exit and into a plusher, less crowded lounge area. Gordon’s face split with a grin as he saw first Tin-Tin’s dark head and Kyrano’s silver one come down the ramp. He put his hands in his pockets and waited for them to notice him.
Strangely enough, Tin-Tin was about to walk right by him when he called her name. “Hey, Tin-Tin! Where’re you going?”
She turned. “I beg y… Gordon? Is that you? What did you do to your hair!?”
He pulled her into a strong, brotherly hug, then reached over to thump Kyrano on the back. The retainer shook his head as he stared at Gordon’s nearly bare scalp.
“I think there is a story to tell concerning Mr. Gordon’s hair,” Kyrano commented.
“Yes, there is, Kyrano, and I’ll tell it to you both on the way back home,” Gordon replied. “Let’s get your bags.”
In the plane, Gordon told the Kyranos all about his New Year’s resolution and what had been happening since he made it.
“I think it’s terrible that the others have taken advantage of you this way!” Tin-Tin cried. “Especially Virgil! That was a very nasty thing for him to do!” She gave him a warm smile. “I’m very glad you have not stooped to their level and kept your word, Gordon.”
“Well, I really want to show Dad that I can be serious about life,” Gordon replied. “Besides, I’ve dished it out enough in the past. Time to show I can take it, I guess.”
“You can, Gordon. You’re probably one of the strongest personalities I’ve ever known, aside from your father. Once you set your mind to it, you can do it,” Tin-Tin encouraged. She sat back with a happy sigh. “I’m so looking forward to getting back home. Paris during the holidays is wonderful, but it feels good to get back to the routine after so much excitement. And I can hardly wait to see Alan!”
The Tracy family were waiting for the Kyranos as Gordon taxied the jet into its berth in the long wing off of Thunderbird Two’s hangar. Tin-Tin got genuinely affectionate hugs and kisses from everyone… except Alan. He merely leaned over to give her a peck on the cheek and said, “Hello, Tin-Tin. Welcome home.” Then he went to help unload the luggage.
The hurt on Tin-Tin’s face was reflected in frowns on the faces of both fathers and looks of surprise from the other brothers. Eleanor stepped up to the girl and gave her a firm embrace. “I’m so glad to see you, child. Come on upstairs and tell me all about your holidays.” With her arm around Tin-Tin’s shoulder, she herded the girl up to the house.
Jeff and Kyrano exchanged looks and began to talk quietly together as they walked to the lift that would take them to the house. Gordon turned to smack his brother on the arm with the back of his hand.
“Why’d you have to be so cool to her? From watching the two of you, one’d think you weren’t together anymore.”
Alan rubbed his arm and scowled at Gordon. “As I told the other guys, Tin-Tin and I are re-evaluating our relationship. We’ll probably end up as good friends.”
“That’s not what Tin-Tin thinks,” Gordon retorted. “She was really looking forward to seeing you.”
“I tried to tell you, Alan,” John said, shaking his head. “You may be ‘re-evaluating’ but she’s not. She knows what she wants.”
“Well, I’m not ready to settle down and be serious yet,” Alan replied. “She’ll just have to live with it.” With that, he grabbed two bags and stalked off to the elevator.
The other Tracys watched him go, then Scott shook his head. “He doesn’t see what he’s doing. I for one wish he would wake up and see what he’s got.”
Gordon shook his head in agreement, then grabbed a suitcase and his shopping and followed his brothers back to the house.
Scott waited for the rest of the day for his doom to fall, but it didn’t. As the sun set, he watched Gordon and Tin-Tin take a long walk on the beach.
“Well, my money’s gone south,” he commented to John, who joined him on the balcony.
“Mine will, too, I’m sure,” John murmured. “He’s really set on this resolution.”
“And with Tin-Tin back to encourage him….” Scott let his sentence trail off. He turned to John. “How about a game of pool?”
“Sure. But for fun, not for money,” John said, as he followed Scott down to the games room.