Capt. R.E. Ludlow and Sgt. Vincent Trent sat across from each other in their socially distanced outdoor boardroom, resplendent in their dress uniforms passing as business suits as they prepared to meet a veteran hailed across the U.S. Armed Forces as a hero.
They both were thus looking at the other's porch, and seeing how their littlest ones had prepared – or not prepared – for the occasion.
Capt. Ludlow was the custodial grandfather and about to be adoptive father of his two youngest grandsons Robert (5) and Grayson (6), who had decided in the middle of a tie-dye project that they wanted their blond hair to become tie-dyed orange and green, respectively. This had failed, because even though they had dumped the respective red and blue dye pots all over their heads, and even though their sisters Amanda (7) and Edwina (8) had gotten all dyed in attempting to help them work it in – wrong type of coloring.
Capt. Ludlow had gotten all that out before it set, only to turn around 90 minutes later to see his grandsons with streaks of orange and green because Milton Trent (9) next door had taught them how to do it with lots and lots and lots of chalk, and demonstrated on himself and his sister Gracie (8). He was all lavender in his hair choice, and he loved his sister Gracie so much that he had chalked her up for all the colors of the rainbow.
These little individuals had done this just in time so there was no time to get it all washed out – their heads of households had to get ready for their meeting.
So, the captain and the sergeant were looking at each other's porch, and each other's delighted children with their new hair colors, snapping selfies and “ussies” on their elder sisters' phones … just in time for the American hero to roll up to see it all.
Sgt. Trent knew that Capt. Ludlow, born a proper Virginian blue-blood, was deeply conflicted … he likely would have been beaten to within an inch of his life for pulling the stunt his grandsons were happily pulling, and for that reason he had restrained himself, trying his best to steer a healthier course for his beloved grandchildren, but the old inclinations were still in him.
However, the man's growth was seen clearly when Edwina came bouncing out of the house with her hands full of yellow chalk.
“We know you were a big, handsome blond when you were young, Grandpa. I can take 30 years off your life before your big meeting if you want.”
“Oh, y'all have already done about 20 today, darling, and that's enough. White hair is considered distinguished among businessmen.”
“Oh, okay. I didn't know that. Hey, Andrew, want me to get some white chalk for you, then?”
“No, I'm already dressed and will get it on my business suit,” the ten-year-old replied from inside, “but thank you for caring so much, Edwina!”
“He took the words right out of my mouth – thank you for caring, Edwina, and I love you too.”
She dropped all the chalk and gave her grandfather a hug, her chalky hands leaving hand prints everywhere before she picked up the chalk and ran off, overjoyed.
Capt. Ludlow just breathed deeply as his company vice president improvised a clothes brush and a joke.
“Well, it's a wild world, Captain, and dangerous, but, look at it this way: that's about the worst attack we've seen in a while.”
Capt. Ludlow put his head down on the table and broke out laughing, getting the relief he needed just as Sgt. Tito Gonzalez walked up, grinning after having seen the whole thing.