By Linda Porter Carlyle
Trevor Paul Monroe picked up the telephone. 8-9-9, he began to dial Joseph’s number.
“Remember to be polite!” Mom called from the kitchen. “Make sure it’s convenient for you to go over to Joseph’s this morning. Joseph and G.M. (Grandma Maddie) may already have other plans.”
“I know,” Trevor called back. “I’ll be polite.” He looked down at the phone and punched the rest of the numbers.
“Hello,” Joseph answered after four rings.
“I’m glad you’re home!” Trevor said quickly. “My mom has to go to a meeting this morning, and I don’t want to go with her. She said I could come over to your house. If it’s convenient,” he added. “I’m not supposed to beg.”
Joseph laughed. “Just a minute. I’ll ask,” he said. He carried the cordless phone and padded down the hall to G.M.’s bright studio. “Can Trevor come over and play this morning?” he asked. “His mom’s going to a meeting, and he doesn’t want to have to go.”
G.M. carefully rinsed out a tiny paintbrush in a jar of clean water. “Sure,” she agreed, looking up. She glanced at the big thermometer that hung outside the window. “It’s not too hot yet. Would you guys like to go over to the park for a while?”
“Yeah!” Joseph shouted. “Yeah!” he shouted again into the phone. “G.M.’s going to take us to the park! Bring your football!”
A big grin split Trevor’s face. “Great!” he exclaimed.
It wasn’t long before Trevor’s minivan pulled up outside Joseph’s house. Trevor spilled out, clutching his football. He waved good-bye and jogged across the grass.
Joseph opened the back door. Mac stepped out the door behind him. “Mac is coming to the park too,” Joseph called to Trevor. “She wants to practice catching a football. I don’t know why though,” he went on. “They don’t have girls on football teams.”
Mac gave Joseph a friendly shove that sent him off the edge of the porch. “I believe a person should learn how to do many things,” she announced primly, wiping her hands on her shorts. “Throwing a football might be a useful skill some day! You never know!”
Joseph picked himself up off the grass and rubbed his shoulder. “I think you ruined my throwing arm,” he complained.
“Stop bickering, children, and help me carry stuff,” G.M. said. She handed Joseph a small cooler. “Water,” she explained. She handed Trevor a folded orange-and white-beach chair and Mac a fat, heavy book. Then she turned and locked the door.
It was only a short walk to the park. Just down the street, a left turn at Jacksonville Market, two more blocks to the main street of town, and one last block past the hardware store.
At the park, G.M. reclaimed her beach chair, sat it up, adjusted her big straw hat to keep the sun out of her eyes, and settled in with her book.
The kids ran, shouting, across the grass. “Show me how to hold the ball!” Mac said, stopping.
Trevor was pleased to do so. He didn’t have many chances to teach people things since he was the baby of the family.
Joseph watched and listener carefully to Trevor’s instructions. He wished he had big brothers to play football with like Trevor did.
“Let’s make a triangle,” Trevor suggested. “I’ll throw the ball to Joseph, and he can throw it to Mac, and Mac can throw it back to me.
“Don’t go so far away!” he shouted as Joseph ran off. “It’s better to have a smaller triangle at first.”
Mac positioned herself in the proper place. Not too close to Trevor, but not too far away. She watched as Trevor lobbed the football. He made it look so easy, she thought. She watched Joseph fumble to catch it. She hoped she would catch the ball!
Joseph tossed the football to Mac. At least that was what he intended. Mac didn’t have to worry about not being able to catch it. It didn’t go anywhere near her. She giggled as she chased after it.
The ball came to rest near the feet of a tall, skinny boy leaning against a tree. He scooped it up and handed it to her. “Thanks!” Mac said breathlessly. She jogged back to her point in the triangle.
“Who’s that kid?” Trevor asked.
Mac shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen him before.” She arranged her fingers properly on the football, and threw it to Trevor.
“Not bad!” Trevor exclaimed. He held the ball. “That kid looks lonely,” he said. “Maybe we should ask if he wants to play with us.”
“Maybe he’s just waiting for his friends,” Joseph answered.
Joseph, Mac, and Trevor continued their game. Now and then, Trevor eyed the boy against the tree. Finally he stopped, tucked the football under his arm, and motioned for Joseph and Mac to join him. “I’m going to ask that kid if he wants to play with us,” he said.
Mac wrinkled her nose in dissatisfaction. If another kid joined their game, she wouldn’t get as many chances to work on her throw.
Joseph looked hesitant.
Trevor jogged over to the tree.
Half an hour later, G.M. stood up and stretched. “It’s time to go,” she called.
Joseph, Mac, and Trevor huddled around the boy. Joseph and Trevor patted his shoulder, then the three friends ran to G.M.
“Who was that?” G.M. asked, folding up her chair.
“It was a homeless kid!” Mac exclaimed. “Well, he and his mom are traveling all the way to New Mexico to his grandmother’s house to live with her, and he said they were camping, but they don’t have a tent or anything. They sleep in their car!”
G.M. watched the boy disappear down the block. “That was very nice of you guys to invite him to join your game. You’ve given him a good memory of Jacksonville.”
“It was Trevor’s idea to ask him to play,” Joseph admitted.
Trevor looked at the ground to hide his embarrassed grin. “Do you want me to carry your chair again?” he asked G.M.