There’s something seriously amiss about my grandson, Jorel. He’s my daughter, Cynthia’s son. Her husband walked out on her after ten years of marriage, and five years later, she had Jorel.
Jorel’s ten, a nice kid and plenty smart, but it’s strange how nobody talks about his father. “It’s not important who Jorel’s father is,” Cynthia insists. That right there is suspicious. It is important, but everyone acts like it’s taboo.
Jorel’s out of school for the summer. I’ve been staying here because my house has bed bugs. I thought bed bugs were something made up for the saying, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Well, they’re real and they bite. Cynthia insisted I stay with her a few weeks while things get fumigated, cleaned, and whatever else needs to be done.
My first day at Cynthia’s house, Jorel told me, “They closed NikeTown in New York for bed bugs.”
“Is that so? Well, I haven’t heard that,” I said.
The next morning, right there on the news, a reporter said that very thing. When I asked Jorel how he knew before the news reported it, he just grinned. He spends his time watching superhero movies, playing video games, and on the computer. In fact, he seems obsessed with these things. Granted, at seventy, it’s been years since I was raising kids, but it’s just not right that a boy isn’t outside playing baseball, riding bicycles, and climbing trees.
Okay, maybe that isn’t suspicious, but I noticed other things. No matter what I asked or talked about, Jorel knows everything about it. Everything! Sometimes he’ll go off into his room, and come back spouting information like a talking encyclopedia. At first I thought he might be psychic because how can a ten year old tell me things that haven’t even hit the news yet?
Call me an old fool, but I suspect Jorel may be an alien or has supernatural powers like a superhero. Why doesn’t Cynthia mention who his father is? Jorel – even his name is suspicious. I watched Superman when I was a boy. Jorel is the name of Superman’s father. I made that connection by myself.
I started paying close attention to Jorel, you know, trying to figure out what’s going on. His two favorite movies are Rocketeer and Martian Child. Jorel built some kind jet pack for flying. “I’m going to try it out in the back yard, Gramps. Come watch, but don’t tell Mom. She worries too much.”
“Trying to get home, Jorel?” I asked with a chuckle, meaning home to another planet.
“Huh? You’re funny, Gramps,” he said, anxious to get out side.
I wanted to ask how it was he could make such a contraption, but I was afraid he might answer, “Because I’m an extra-terrestrial, Gramps.” Ignorance can be bliss, I say.
Well, the jet pack fired up all right, but flew off his back even though it was attached to shoulder straps. It crashed into the fence and spun in circles for a minute. Jorel was so disappointed. I sure felt bad for him. “Could’ve blown a hole in your back, so count yourself lucky,” I said, trying to cheer him up.
I started taking notes while following him around. He didn’t seem to mind, and by golly, I’ve become attached to the young fellow. So, finally one day, I asked, “How’d you know how to build that flying contraption?”
“Googled it, Gramps.”
Googled? Never heard such a word. Sounds like Martian language or something. “Googled?” I mumbled. “Never heard that word, Jorel. Let me ask you how it is you seem to know so much about everything?”
“Googling, Gramps.” Jorel acted like he was the grownup talking to the child. Then he threw his arms around me. “I’m sure gonna miss you, Gramps.”
My heart dropped. He was gonna try to go home just like E.T. I decided right then to talk to Cynthia.
I hated to bother her with my suspicions the moment she walked in the door. When she finally stopped laughing, she explained things to me.
“Dad, Jorel’s not a Martian or superhero, but he has tested at genius level. I know who his father is, and that’s enough. When you leave, he’ll have to stay at day camp, so of course he’ll miss you.”
Then she explained what googling is. Imagine that! I think I’ll just stay for the whole summer. Even a Martian kid needs a grandpa to watch over him.
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