Strangers in a Strange Land

Chapter Five-Fixing Problems

Eugene stayed the night in the barn. Demetrius knew because he watched for him from the window. Thinking Eugene would eventually get tired and come in for the night Demetrius quietly planned the conversation in his head. The one where he could learn more about his skill and how to control it.

While everyone mused about what happened when Eugene and Caitlin were at Dolph’s farm, visions of Eugene’s visit came to Demetrius’s mind. In a matter of seconds, his friend changed from being tense to behaving like he’d been on Dolph’s farm all his life. What was it about the man that made a person change so quickly?

Regardless, Demetrius woke in the morning without his answer. Instead, he heard Eugene’s voice in the kitchen. “I don’t think it’s the stove ruining your biscuits.”

“It has to be. Selene insisted. I’m using the same recipe I’ve used all along, and no two batches have ever been the same.”

Then he heard Damien’s voice join the conversation. “Glad to see you finally decided to join us.”

“I do have an idea for a change that would reduce the wood you’d need.” Eugene completely ignored Damien?

“I’ll go draw up some plans.” He was still mad.

Demetrius remained on the other side of the wall. After witnessing the results of Damien’s short temper, he knew it was safer to have a physical barrier.

“Wait.” Selene’s step quickened. “You haven’t eaten breakfast. Take a biscuit and some fruit with you.” With Caitin’s return Demetrius noted a softness in Selene’s tone. She smiled more frequently and, except for Damien, she rarely used harsh words when speaking to people. It was as though a burden had been removed from her shoulders and she finally was able to relax.

Nobody had it in them to tell Selene that her biscuits were more suited to be a weapon than a source of nutrition. Eugene thanked. Demetrius guessed he probably placed it in his pocket because he said, “I’ll save it for later.”

He heard himself thinking, “I wish there were a way for Eugene to fix Selene’s cooking.” Sensing the potential for a blow up had diminished, Demetrius rounded the corner. Maybe he’d be able to go with Eugene to the barn.

“In that case, you may want to take some more.” Selene passed him the plate. Slowly placing two more biscuits in his pocket Eugene excused himself and went to the barn.

Over breakfast, the boys decided it was Andrea’s turn to try and find out what Eugene was up to. “He talks to you about everything,” Brian said.

“It should be one of us boys,” Peter argued. “We broke it. We should try to fix it. Nicholas, you’re good with words. You go.”

Nicholas gave them the I don’t know face. “I’ll try. What’s the worst that could happen.”

Watching with anticipation, the boys sat on the porch while Nicholas approached the door and knocked before entering. “Hey Eugene, it’s me, Nicholas.” Nicholas opened the door a couple of feet, and three biscuits came flying out above him like missiles. Unsettled by what had happened Nicholas slammed the door shut. Certain the door was closed he yelled through the wall, “You throw like a girl!”

He came back to the stairs. “Why did I listen to you. You said so yourself. Three days.”

The boys, waiting for another chance to remedy the situation went back to their odd jobs around the farm. Brian helped Dan’s wife irrigate the vegetable garden. He didn’t say anything to the boys about liking the task because it gave him time to be closer to the girls.

Damien, Nicholas and Peter’s project of building a fence around the house allowed them to stay close to the house, so should Eugene ever come out of his lair, in the words of Damien, “they’d be there to help him come to his senses.”

After lunch, Demetrius noticed Andrea slip into the barn with a plate of food. He waited for a loud noise, a scream something to signal the need for help. It never happened. Andrea was in there for the better part of the afternoon.

“Why does she get to go in there, and whenever one of us boys tries, we get a biscuit to the head,” Damien grumbled.

Through amused eyes, Nicholas said, “If you have to ask, you’re not ready for the talk.”

“You don’t think he’s nice because she’s a girl?”

They never got to finish the discussion because Eugene still with goggles on the top of his head and face covered in soot came out of the barn. Andrea’s face glowed with pride.

“No way,” Damien was aghast. “Eugene.”

“Shhhh, You’re getting worse than me,” Peter grumbled.

Andrea practically skipped to the house and Eugene followed after her. Within seconds Ella was on the front porch calling for Dan.

“Dan Adams!” She lifted her dress as she stepped down the porch. “Dan. I need to talk to you about something.”

“Eugene went from super nerd to Casanova in less than a week?” Nicholas was stunned.

Dan came from around the back of the house. Damien whispered about being torn. Part of him wanted to give his friend the dignity of getting in trouble without an audience. Another part of him had a burning curiosity that pushed him to edge closer to the house.

Dan quickly remedied the situation before the boys had a chance to do something they all would regret later. “Demetrius there’s something you need to see.”

Demetrius shrugged his lack of knowledge to his friends and joined the conversation.

Ella pulled some blue tinted sunglasses out of her pocket and handed them to Demetrius. The wire on the side was flexible enough to bend around his ears. “This may help with your headaches. Why don’t you try them on.”

As soon as he placed the glasses over his head, tension in the back of his neck disappeared. A fog lifted and the world around him seemed clearer. Demetrius found himself marveling at how vivid the farm looked through the glasses. “Has the grass always been that green?” He removed the glasses and the scene in front of him grayed. When he put them back on again, and it sparkled.

Looking at the ranch through new eyes, he asked, “Where did you get these?”

Speaking like a proud mother, Ella beamed. “Eugene made them for you. He told us Andrea helped with getting the glass color right.”

“They were working on this in the barn? I thought.” Demetrius cast a concerned look at the barn and then his friends who watched the conversation from a distance. “We thought.” He pulled on his earlobe. “What about the tractor?”

“Oh, that was just to give him something to recognize his skills. I already have a tractor.” Dan said. “Eugene needed to know that fixing problems was just as important as having the power to create them.”

Author Note: These kids keep me smiling. I hope they do the same for you. Keep in Touch and let me know what you think of the story so far.

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