“All the King’s Horses, and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again!” Grandpa finished the rhyme and closed the book. “Well, Billy, what else would you like to do?”

Billy loved his grandfather. Grandpa always had time for a story, a game, or to simply talk. “I’ll do whatever you want to do, Grandpa.”

A sly little smile crossed Grandpa’s visage. “How about a nice game of chess, Billy?”

“No way, Grandpa,” Billy laughed. “You always beat me! How ’bout checkers?”

Grandpa agreed and so the game began. Billy was winning, as usual. Grandpa always let Billy win at checkers. The game progressed as Billy jumped three of Grandpa’s checkers in a row. Then suddenly Grandpa reached Billy’s side of the board. He smiled that smile again. “Checkmate, Billy!”

Billy laughed and laughed at their running joke. Grandpa always said ‘Checkmate.’ “You’re supposed to say ‘King me!'” he informed Grandpa.

“Oh,” Grandpa said pensively. “Well, king me, then!” Billy laughed again.

They finished the game, and of course Billy won. He happily sang out, “I beat you, I beat you!”

Grandpa smiled, and then suddenly popped out his upper denture. Billy howled!

“Look ma, no teeth!” Grandpa said, though it came out kind of jumbled. Billy’s laughter peeled off, and Grandpa put the teeth back in. “Dentist told me I mighta kept ’em if I’d flossed ’em,” he said, scratching his chin.

“What’s floss, Grandpa?” Billy asked.

“Ok, it’s like a string you use to clean between your teeth. Think you’re a little young for usin’ string on your teeth, Billy.”

But Billy’s attention was elsewhere. He was looking at Grandpa’s medals from the war.

“You were in the war, weren’t you, Grandpa?” Billy held each medal aloft, and gazed at it admiringly.

“Yes, I was. I was an officer, in fact,” answered Grandpa.

Billy picked up Grandpa’s sidearm, and held it. “Can we play army, Grandpa?”

A stern look came over Grandpa’s face. “Billy, I don’t want you to ever play with that gun. Promise me.”

Billy set down the handgun, understanding from the tone of his voice that Grandpa was serious. “Ok, Grandpa. I won’t. But why not?”

“Because it is not a toy. It is a deadly weapon, made for killing.”

Billy looked up into Grandpa’s kindly face, and saw the worry there. He reiterated his promise, and it seemed to make Grandpa happy. “What can we do, then?” Billy asked.

“Well, let’s watch some cartoons,” Grandpa suggested.

“Yeah!” Billy cried excitedly. “Beep! Beep!”

Grandpa reached out a hand to ruffle Billy’s hair. “You remind me more of that crazy character who spins around and messes things up than you do of the Road runner,” Grandpa said with a chuckle.

“Yeah!” agreed Billy. “I’m the Tasmanian Devil!” he exclaimed. He started to spin around and around.

Suddenly, Mom’s voice floated up. “Billy, come down for dinner,” she called. Billy stopped spinning.

Billy looked at Grandpa. “Well, Mom’s calling me. I’d better go downstairs,” he announced. Grandpa nodded.

Billy walked back to the center of the attic, and gently closed the lid of the trunk which rested there. The gold plate on the front of the trunk read, “William Edward Simpson, Sr.”

William Edward Simpson III headed for the stairs. “Bye, Grandpa,” he said softly. “I sure am glad I know where to find you when I need you.”

Billy turned his back on the now-empty and silent attic, and descended the stairs toward the dining room for dinner.

* * * * *

GRANDPA is the first story in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS, available as an ebook from Amazon, for only $0.99!