That evening, Maria made a large green salad. I order spaghetti with meatballs from the pizza parlor for 45 people. I figured with 30 boys and Alex, I’ll be lucky to have any leftover.
When the Pizza Parlor delivered the spaghetti, the boys’ eyes lit up, especially Anthony’s.
Maria served the salad, the boys went and got their drinks, then found a place to sit down. Once everyone had their salad, Alex ate the rest. I think he has a hollowed leg.
With the salad gone, the boys took a clean plate and helped themselves to the spaghetti. Maria gave them their meatballs. I think she knew about how much they could eat. The meatballs were huge.
I pretty much waited till the boys had eaten. The salad was enough for me. As the boys took their empty plates to the kitchen, Maria handed them a dish of ice cream for dessert. I watched Alex. He was on his second plate of spaghetti and meatballs. I fixed a small plate of the spaghetti, I wanted to taste it. It was delicious.
As the boys finished their dessert, they went to their rooms. They would read or play games. Alex, Maria, Peter and I sat at the breakfast bar eating. I still had a half of my plate of spaghetti when Alex piled on his third helping. Maria looked, Peter smiled, and I just kept on eating. Alex, after three large helpings, finally said he was full.
“That spaghetti was delicious. Reminded me of the spaghetti I get in Italy.”
“Are you sure? There is enough for at least two helpings.”
“Yes, I need to save some room for dessert.”
I passed up dessert. Maria got out the last of the pie we had last night, add ice cream to it and set it before Alex. He smiled as he dug in.
I couldn’t understand where he puts all that food. He should have been overweight, but he wasn’t. He was a little on the skinny side. His tapeworm must have been very happy.
“Carleton, does he have a tapeworm or something? He would make any woman happy to cook for him if they could afford it.”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure his body isn’t getting any heavier. He looks the same as when I first saw him. But he does eat a lot.”
The boys hit the kitchen for a glass of chocolate milk. Then they landed in the living room where Alex held court. I sat and watched him and the boys. He was at home.
Vlad came over and crawled up on my lap. “Dad, can you help me in my bed tonight. I tried to climb in, but I couldn’t.”
I started to laugh. We forgot to hook up the ladder. “Come with me.” I went out to the garage and in the back of the truck was the ladder and a plastic bag with the bolts to attach it to the bed.
I took my small toolbox and went to his bedroom. “Ok Vlad, I forgot to attach the ladder.” It took me about 20 minutes to attach the ladder and make sure it was solid.
“Ok, Vlad, now you can climb up to your bed. Try it.”
Once he was sure it would hold, he scampered up the ladder. He was all smiles. “Do you want to go and show Viktor or wait until tonight when you go to bed.” He decided to wait. We went back downstairs.
The young boys began to yawn. They came to me. I put my arms around them, “Dad, I’m tired, I’m going to bed.”
“Okay. I’ll come and tuck you in.”
I walked to their bedroom with them, helped them get into their sweats, and then tucked them in. Kissing them on their head, I gave them a little hug. I went room to room doing that. Those that were already in bed still got a kiss and a hug. I even went to Vlad and Viktor’s room as they got ready for bed. Tonight, Vlad was on the top bunk. I knew they would take turns. I was happy for them. They hugged me and thanked me for the bed.
One thing that I try to hide is the tears in my eyes as I tuck them in. I can’t help think about what they must have gone through before Alex and I rescued them. When they smile now, I thank God I could help, but I also think of my son, who I lost. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.
I went back to the living room where Alex and the older boys were chatting. They talked about what they did when they were home. I listened to some of what they said. It sounded like they were loved, and some were not. Such a mix of backgrounds, but the one thing they did not talk about was how they came to be on the streets. They may have talked about that to Alex, but not in my presence.
As the day came to a close, we tucked in the older boys. We had to tell a new story to Charles and Vasily. Tonight was the three bears, and Alex was the one who went into their cottage.