Drake Mandrake is working his way through college as a comedic magician. A youthful mistake made him a father early on and now, at 21, he’s coping with being a single dad as well as taking care of his 7 year old nephew, Davy. Davy is a special needs child who’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Drake is studying special ed so that he can work with children like Davy. As a treat, Davy has been fishing with Drake’s cousins and Shelby, his daughter, has spent the day with Aunt Connie. They are now at Uncle Billy’s for dinner.
Davy ran at Drake, greeting him so enthusiastically, he nearly knocked him over. Connie took Shelby so that Drake could swing Davy onto his shoulder.
“I caught all kinds of fish, Uncle Drake! And I caught a stingray! It almost stung Uncle Billy when he unhooked it!”
“It was nearly six feet long! It was pissed to get caught.”
“Okay, who taught my boy a new word?” Drake asked the room at large.
His cousin, Burwell held up his hand, grinning sheepishly. “He wasn’t supposed to tell you.”
“Did you tell him not to use it in a sentence?”
“No.” He looked puzzled. “I didn’t think of that.”
“Now ya know. Davy, you don’t say pissed. It’s not a very nice word.”
“Okay, Uncle Drake.” He squirmed to get down.
Burwell caught him as he lunged off his uncle’s shoulder. He set Davy on the floor, ruffling his hair.
“He’s something else. He kept all of us hopping.”
Billy’s sons were all built on the same line as their father. In other words, upwards of seven feet tall and roughly the size of Montana. There were six of them altogether. Drake couldn’t imagine Davy running them all ragged. He supervised him fine all on his own.
“It took all y’all to keep tabs on one kid? That’s pretty damn funny. I keep track of him and Shelby, no problem.”
“Pzy, pzy,” Shelby yelled loudly and with gusto. “Sit, sit! Pzy!”
Drake shook his head, trying hard not to laugh. “Oh, God. My daughter’s gonna have the vocabulary of a redneck trucker by the time she starts school.”
Burwell laughed at him. “For once it ain’t my fault.”
“I’ll remember this when you have kids. I’m gonna teach them naughty words and laugh at your pain.”
“You got a mean streak, Drake.”
“I’ve got to, considering how much bigger you guys are. Teague’s the only one shorter and he can still whoop me easy.”
“He could whoop all of us. Even if we jumped him all at once. You should have seen him! It scared the ever loving sh. . . . poop outta me.”
“Sh, sh!” Shelby said.
“That’s right, honey,” Drake coached. “Sh, sh—Shelby.”
“I guess we should have named her something easier,” Drake said with a shrug. “She can’t seem to get Shelby, no matter what I do.”
“Grow up with a name like Burwell. Took me forever to get it right. And spell it? Shoot. I was still getting help when I was in second grade.”
“You were dropped as a child, Burwell. That confirms it.”
“If you weren’t holding that baby, I’d show you just who’s getting’ dropped on the head.” He punched Drake’s arm.
“Boys, behave!” Burwell’s mother, Betty Jean, fussed.
“Yes, ma’am!” They chorused.
Dinner with Drake’s family was always crazy. He’d forgotten just how much fun they were to be
around. Once they finished dinner, Billy’s children, who had a bluegrass band, got up on the stage and played for awhile.
Afterwards Drake was persuaded to perform a few simple magic tricks. Without his cases, he was limited, but they liked the card tricks and slights of hand that he performed.
“Now I know why I can’t win at poker when you play,” Junior grumbled. “Damn. You’re probably dealing doubles and stacking the deck.”
“No, Junior, you just suck,” Drake replied.
“SUCK!” Shelby yelled amidst much laughter.
“It’s official,” Burwell said, hopping up on stage with Drake. He raised his cousin’s arm in the air. “Daddy’s mouth has officially been rated ‘G’.”
“Can’t say her own name, but can curse.” Drake stepped off the stage. “What am I gonna do with you, Miss Shelby?”
“She-be!” She yelled, kissing him resoundingly.
“You hear that? That’s the first time she’s ever said her name! Yeah, Shelby!”
“She-be! Sit! Pzy!”
“I think I’d better get my baby home before she picks up anymore bad language from y’all. You’re a bad influence,” Drake told Burwell.