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In a daze, Hare left Kobbe’s with a part-time job and needle-nose pliers.  He had handed over his license, and all John said was, “name’s awful plain isn’t it, I shouldn’t speak, I’m a John” with a grin.  It wasn’t a real job, not like the gig that Harold had held for so long with the Company, there would be no benefits or full-time work, but John figured that part-time with pay on days that Hare would work if there was work to be had.
Striding to the video game store, a spring came into his step.  He had envisioned what this moment would feel like, that he would feel warm and tingly, it wasn’t truly like that, but overall he had a forward momentum in his life, that he had been in the right place at the right time.  He beckoned through the plate window at Rold and they walked side by side back to the car.  Hare smirked on their way, not knowing what to tell Rold.
As they reached the wagon, Rold pointed at the grocery store.  “I’m not going in alone.  Come on.”
“Right, I forgot.”  Hare grinned sheepishly.
“Hmm.”  Curious, Rold gave him a skeptical look.  “Did you get the pliers that Harold wanted?”
“Yes.”  Hare nodded.  “That, and a job.”
Without acknowledging his words, Rold merely moved ahead.  Once through the automatic sliding doors, they fell into a familiar routine, Hare pushing the cart while Rold walked ahead with the grocery list.  They meandered down the aisles, methodically picking up items on the list in order.
Picking a can of tomatoes up and putting in the cart, Rold mentioned, “So, you have a job.”
“I have a job.”  
“Yeah.”  Rold frowned at the list, then stalked off in another direction.  “I thought you said that, but I didn’t know, you might be going crazy or something.”  The cart squeaked along behind him.
Pushing the load, Hare pulled even with Rold.  “Its not a real job, not like Harold’s.  Its part time.”
“Does that mean he’s part time paying you under the table?”  
Hare nodded and indicated one aisle over.  “I think the creamer is in the next aisle.”  He leaned against the cart.  “We haven’t discussed it.  I think it will be legal, though.”
“Great.”  Rold held the list up and squinted at it.  “That sounds wonderful.”  His usual routine when upset was not to avoid something, but to confront it head on, often with colorful language.  Hare suspected that the reason why he charge in such a bombastic way was that Rold was too young to be vulnerable and he had nothing to risk.  These  days, though, Rold would often talk around a subject, trying to figure out all the angles before making an accusation or offering up a solution.
“It doesn’t sound wonderful.”  Hare chewed on his lower lip.  “Its nerve-wracking, I know.  But it shouldn’t be too much, I mean, he’s a nice guy.  The boss is a nice guy.”
“Nice like Harold nice?”  Rold meant condescending without any intentions of being such.
“No.”  Hare shook his head.  John appeared to be a guy who thought out loud; Harold was a guy who thought a lot without saying anything.  One never really knew where one stood with Harold who was in one breath angry at  you, then in another truly happy.  Harold’s deep inner world interfered with the outside world and John was someone who pushed his inner thoughts out to the surface for anyone to see.  “No, not like Harold.”
“Uh-oh, the pinkie coming up on the right.”  Rold was referring to an old lady with a taste for pink who they often accosted in the grocery store.  Or rather, she accosted them regularly.  It felt more like being interrogated than having a conversation.  
Hare and Rold stopped short, pausing to look intently at various breakfast bars, turning their entire bodies and not just faces away from the center of the aisle.  The incoming squeak of her cart came closer and closer.  
Inspired, Rold jabbed Hare.  “Talk about the bar, right now.”
Initially flustered, Hare made an attempt.  “This one looks quite good, its got apple in it.”
“That sounds delicious.”
“The other one is cheaper.”  Hare could hear the pinkie’s footsteps approaching.  “Yet, this brand has more per box.”
“Oh, its not actually cheaper.”  Rold pointed at the box in question then raised his voice.  “It appears to be so.”
“Yes, yes.”
Sadly, they had run out of exciting conversation, and the noise generated by the pinkie had stopped, indicating that she was waiting for them yet again.  Ready to face the music, the boys took one look at each other and then did an about face.
“Good morning, boys.”  A handsome, wrinkled face with calm blue eyes gazed at them.   Today’s ensemble was in the frosty pink category accented by white shoes and topped off with a halo of fluffy white hair.  “Fancy seeing you here again.  Picking up groceries with the senior citizens?”
Hare tried to smile genuinely, failed and settle for a pained grimace.  “Yes, ma’am.”
“No need for the formalities.”  She expertly whipped out a pair of frosty pink spectacles seemingly out of nowhere and placed them on her nose.  “I think you know by now that I’m Hazel.”
“Hi Hazel.”  Rold gave a tiny wave with a hand.  “Picking up some food.”
“I noticed, little one.”  She looked him up and down.  “Shouldn’t you be in school right now?”
A familiar lie was told.  “Home schooling.”  Hare jerked a thumb in Rold’s direction.  “He’s brilliant, though.”
“He should be in school.”  She squinted at Hare’s face.  “Don’t you want to be in school?”  She waved at Rold with a wrinkled hand.
“He’s okay.”  Hare insisted.  “He doesn’t want to go.”
“What’s so great about school?”  Rold added helpfully.
“Its where young people with enterprising minds should go, to have a future.”  The granny eyed Rold up and down yet again.  “What do you want to do when you get older?”  She pointed at a worker in the aisle who was counting cans.  “Count cans?  You ask me, you want to go to high school, then a university.”  
“We’ll think about it, Hazel.”  Hare stated with finality.  “Come on, Rold.”
Hazel cleared her throat.  “Well, you do know that parents can be sent to jail if kids don’t go to school, don’t you?  You need a special situation to have kids home schooled.”
Rold’s eyes widened.  “Is that true?”
“Its as true as my eyes are blue,”  Hazel quipped.  “You oughta sign up before most of the school year ends, though.  Lots of fun activities you’ll be missing out on come fall time.  Best time of the year.  Always good to see you.”  With that last remark, the pink pensioner began squeaking away.
“Ma’am, Hazel?”  Hare asked her retreating back.
“Do you know where the nearest school is located?”
“That I do.”  

In the house, Harry and Harold talked about the ideal vacation both of them wanted to have.  Everyone would have to go of course, Hare and Rold would be included.  National parks were right out:  Harold felt that he was too old to fight with a bear or gather water for daily use from a stream and as picturesque as those scenes can be, Harry agreed.  Another state would probably be best, it would be hard to figure out how to get each of them to fly out of their country without passports.
“Tropical and warm.”  Harry grinned and closed his eyes as if imagining a warm ray of sun engulfing him in light.  “An island, maybe?”
“That might be expensive,”  Harold warned.
Expense was a major concern.  Harry and Harold did appear to be quite old people and if they applied for some sort of discount for being older, they could probably get it.  Rold and Hare were much younger and so would probably desire more activities and food and attention.  It was quite the headache figuring out how to go on this vacation with everyone together:  much harder than if they were being separated.
“We could try for a small day trip,”  Harold suggested.  “That would be cheaper, and we’d all get to see it together.”
Harry pouted.  “We haven’t really seen anything.  None of us have any commitments, so we should go for a longer stay.”
They went in circles about what to do and whether they should split up or maybe take vacations in turns, Harold of course going with each for each trial run.  Eventually, if each of them felt safe enough, they could travel on their own.  This would be a good compromise.  Harold still insisted that they discuss with the others about going together, at the very least mention it to Hare and Rold so they could put their own two cents in about the whole thing.  The light against the living room wall slowly brightened as they chatted excitedly.
Harry’s stomach burbled.  “I guess its lunchtime.”  Without further preamble, he got up and scampered to the kitchen to prepare another meal.
Harold followed behind him.  “I wonder where the boys are.  They left so long ago.”  
“Oh, you know them.  They like wandering around, looking at things.”  Harry chuckled.  “I would too, if I enjoyed walking at all.”  Creaking his right knee in demonstration, he gathered things out of the fridge and onto the counter.  “These knees are not spring-loaded.”
“I do want those pliers soon.”
Harry pooh-poohed Harold’s desire.  “Come now, there’s plenty for us to do without you tinkering with Five.  I think you should leave that poor thing alone.  Its running great.”
“I think I hear the car.”
Harold drove the station wagon into their carport.  Harold and Harry busied themselves with fixing sandwiches and getting lunch ready as Hare and Rold unloaded the automobile.  In pairs, the four danced around each other, one bringing food out as the other pair put newly obtained purchases away.  Harold and Harry got to their seats first and waited patiently for the other two to finish.  Once everyone was sat, they began to eat in unison.  When the Harolds had satiated their mid-day hungers, conversation started.
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