"Brian, thanks for taking Gus today," Lindsay said in a breathless manner as she hauled her son through the loft door.
"I did have other plans," Brian replied.
"Well, Mel is trying to reconnect with her family, since we came back from Canada. When her aunt invited us for lunch at the last minute, we couldn't refuse."
Brian raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing with JR?"
"She's going with us of course. Mel's aunt wants to meet her."
"But not Gus."
"Because he's not really Mel's son," Brian said with a sneer. He didn't think it was possible to detest Melanie Marcus more than he already did. But she had just managed to up the ante.
"Gus and I will have a great time, won't we, sonnyboy," Brian said scooping Gus up and hugging him tight.
"He needs lunch," Lindsay said as she headed for the door.
"Great," Brian groused as Lindsay closed the loft door behind her.
"Dada, hungry," Gus said as he heard the word lunch.
"You're hungry, huh? What would you like for lunch?"
"Psketti," was the immediate response.
"Yes, Dada, psketti."
Brian sighed. He wasn't much of a cook, and spaghetti had the potential to be a huge mess, especially if he was cooking it. "How about a nice peanut butter and avocado sandwich?" Brian said hopefully.
"Peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" Brian amended. He wasn't even sure he had jelly, but it was worth a shot.
"Just peanut butter?"
Brian shook his head. "Okay, let's see what I can make," he conceded to his wilful son. "Come over to the coffee table and make me a drawing while I make 'psketti'."
"'Kay, Dada," Gus said as he followed his father over to the table. From his desk Brian got a sheet of paper and the box of crayons that he had recently bought for Gus. Truth be told he liked having his son visit him. He had missed the little boy a lot while he was in Canada.
"What are you going to draw?" Brian asked.
"I don't know yet," Gus told him. A frown creased his brow as he gave some serious thought to what that might be.
"I'll leave you to it."
Brian went over to the kitchen and began rummaging through the cupboards. He found a jar of basil spaghetti sauce. That would have to do, since he wasn't going to try to make sauce. He had no idea whether Gus would like the basil flavor, but maybe if he didn't tell him...
Brian found a box of fettuccine that Justin must have bought at some point. That would have to do for the spaghetti part. Brian got everything heating up on the stove. While he stirred the sauce and then the pasta, he watched Gus drawing diligently at the coffee table. Brian's mind wandered to Justin . Justin always got along so well with Gus. Justin had come back from New York several months ago, and they had reconnected. It had been ... okay. Justin had tried his hand in New York and decided that it wasn't for him. He had returned, found a job at an art gallery and was painting up a storm at a rented space not far from the loft. He had moved in with his mother, wanting to be more self sufficient before he came back to live with Brian. They both knew that was going to happen, and probably soon. They spent a lot of time together.
Brian realized he had stopped stirring and the spaghetti, make that fettuccine, was probably overcooked, but Gus would most likely prefer it that way. He dumped everything together and called Gus.
Brian helped Gus up onto one of the stools at the kitchen counter. Gus looked at the plate of spaghetti that Brian set in front of him. He frowned and stared at his father across the counter.
"What?" Brian asked.
"It's ... it's not right, Dada," Gus said, tears starting to form in his eyes.
"What's wrong with it?" Brian asked. He had done his best.
"It's not psketti."
"Sure it is."
"No, Dada," Gus said tears running down his face.
"Just try it." Gus shook his head and continued to cry silently.
Brian wanted to pitch the whole plate across the room, but he didn't want to scare his son. He grabbed his phone and called Justin.
"Any chance you could come home?"
"I'm just down the sidewalk from your place. I finished a painting and thought I'd come home for my reward," Justin said.
"I've got Gus here and he wanted spaghetti for lunch. I made him some and he doesn't like it. He says it's not right. He's crying at the moment."
"You made spaghetti?" Justin asked in amazement.
"I have many talents, but the point is that Gus is crying," Brian snapped.
"But there's no spaghetti in the loft, so how did you make ... spaghetti?"
"I used your fettuccine," Brian whispered, wondering if that was why Gus didn't like his spaghetti.
"Um, I'll be there in five minutes."
The phone went dead and Brian pulled it away from his ear to look at the 'call ended' message. He looked at Gus who was still crying.
"Are you sure you won't at least try this?" Brian asked again.
Gus shook his head. "I want psketti."
"Here, have some juice," Brian said getting a bottle of orange juice out of the fridge. He poured a glass, wiped Gus' eyes and nose and handed him the glass. Gus drank greedily. He had almost finished the juice when the loft door opened and Justin walked in. He carried a can of something in his hand.
"Look, Gus, spaghetti," he said. He held up a can of Chef Boyardee.
"Yay!" Gus responded.
"What the fuck!" Brian reacted.
"No, Dada. No bad words," Gus admonished.
"Right, Dada, behave yourself," Justin teased as he fished the can opener out of a kitchen drawer.
"Where did you get that crap, and how...?"
"How did I know this is what Gus would like?" Justin asked with a suggestive bat of his eyelashes. Brian nodded. "I was a kid not so long ago."
"Don't remind me," Brian said suddenly feeling old.
Justin dumped the contents of the can into a pot and placed it on the stove turning the heat to high to get it started. "Chef Boyardee was what I wanted for spaghetti when I was little. I popped into the little market down the street after you called, and luckily they stock it."
"Yeah, lucky," Brian groused while he watched Justin stir the contents of the pot and turn the temperature down as steam started to arise.
"Ready in a second," Justin said getting a bowl from the cupboard.
"Yay," Gus said again.
"What are we going to do with this shit?" Brian asked poking at the concoction he had made.
"Bad word, Dada," Gus said as he dug into the bowl that Justin placed in front of him.
"I'll heat it up and we can have it for lunch," Justin said.
"All those fu... carbs?" Brian said.
"I'll help you work them off later," Justin informed him as he reheated the fettuccine.
"Justin," Gus said, "is there more?"
"Sure, buddy." Justin filled Gus' bowl with the rest of the spaghetti.
"Good psketti," Gus said. After he ate a bite or two more, he looked up at the two men. "I made a picture for you," he told them.
"Let's see it," Justin said as he dished up the reheated fettuccine/spaghetti/psketti.
"I'll get it," Brian offered going over to the coffee table where Gus had left his drawing. "What is this, Gus?" he asked after staring at the picture. He held it out to his son.
"That's you, Dada," Gus said pointing to the tallest stick figure. "And me and Justin," he continued, pointing to each figure.
"Yellow hair for me, Gus. Good idea," Justin told the little boy.
"What's this in the front?" Brian asked pointing to what looked like a pile of rope covered in red at the bottom of the drawing.
"Psketti," Gus said matter-of-factly.
"Right," Brian said.
"And here's your psketti, Mr. Kinney," Justin said handing him a heaping plate.
"Great! Let's eat," Brian said deciding to put the best face on this whole fiasco. He sat on the stool next to his son while Justin sat on the other side of Gus. It was just like Gus' picture.
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