“You’ll take that one to your grave, Jeffy.” Grandpa Mike patted the little boy’s leg just above the gash. “Don’t worry, Bud — we’ll get you fixed up.”
Jeffy frowned, and fear flashed across his already watery eyes. “What do you mean I’ll take it to my grave?”
Mike looked up at his grandson’s scared face and smiled. “Just that you’re going to have a souvenir of your adventure, is all! That scar will give you a story you can tell forever.”
The boy inhaled sharply, and his body stiffened. “Scar?”
The old man arched his eyebrows and bobbed his head forward with enthusiasm. “Heck yeah! Why, you took a hunk out of that big ol’ tree with your bicycle, and it returned the favor.” He pointed at the boy’s knee, scraped and bleeding, a flap of skin still hanging loose. “That’s a gash worthy of a good tall tale, for sure!”
Jeffy sniffled but relaxed a little. He watched as his grandfather worked cotton balls, gauze, and tape through his thick but nimble fingers. The alcohol stung, but Jeffy hardly noticed — his gaze had locked on the smooth white patch of skin on the back of Grandpa’s left hand.
“Are you going to take that scar to your grave?” Jeffy asked. He’d wondered about the jagged mark for years, but it never seemed important enough — or appropriate — to ask about it.
Now, though …
Mike’s fingers stopped, and he looked up at the boy. A grin broke across his face, and he pointed to the scar with his right index finger.
“This scar right here?”
“Why, didn’t I ever tell you about the time I went fishing for bluegill and pulled up a sea lion instead?”
The boy gasped, and his eyes went wide. “Really?”
“I swear on my cat!”
Jeffy giggled. “You don’t have a cat, Grandpa.”
“Right, well, let me tell you — sea lions might look cute and all, but they’re vicious if you interrupt their peace and quiet. And there’s no place they like to sleep better than at the bottom of a country pond.”
“Is that really what happened, Grandpa?”
“As far as you know.” Mike winked.
Just then the back door clanged, and Grandpa sat up straight. He shot a warning look at Jeffy, but before he could say anything, Grandma Jane bounded into the kitchen carrying two bags of groceries.
“What in the world is going on in here?” she asked, eyeing the medical supplies and blood scattered all over the linoleum. Then her gaze caught Jeffy’s bandaged knee. “Oh, my lord! What happened, Jeffy! Are you OK?”
She dropped the bags on the counter and rushed toward her grandson, arms outstretched. The two Harper men exchanged another glance, and Jeffy leaned backward, stiff-arming his on-rushing grandmother.
“I’m fine, Grandma,” he said. “Grandpa is just patching up my … uh … cobra bite.” He shot wide eyes at Grandpa, who bit his lip to keep from giggling.
Jane shrieked. “A cobra!” Then realization settled over her face, and her eyes narrowed. She squinted at Mike and pursed her lips.
He just shrugged and gave her a sheepish grin.
Jane stood up straight and turned toward the back door.
“Well, I have a couple more bags to carry in from the car. Why don’t you have your Grandpa tell you about the time he cut his hand open trying to climb a flagpole.”
She whisked out of the room, and Jeffy shot an accusatory look at his grandfather.
Mike squirmed, and his face flushed. “Uh, I think your story might need a bit of polish, kid.”