Art replied, ”Sure, I can wait.“
His father had a little twinkle in his eye as he continued, ”Let us put this shelf on the wall without your mother knowing.“
Art looked at his dad in disbelief. Art could not even open the refrigerator without his mother knowing. How could they hang a shelf in her dinning room without her knowing? Hank saw his doubt and with a broad smile said, “I think we can do it. Will you help me?” Art heard “we” and was willing to try anything his father might ask.
Hank explained his plan, “I know she wants a shelf in the dining room over the buffet to display her mother’s teacups.” His grin grew wider as he added, “And she is going over to the camp to see aunt Ruth later.” Then Art understood, he knew his mother would be gone for hours. And when she returned she would be bubbling over with news about extended members of the family. She would get home late and be in a terrific hurry to get supper. She might not even go in the dining room until after supper as they usually ate in the kitchen except when they had company or on Sunday.
Just then Phyllis, (Can’t Keep a Secret) stepped into the shop doorway to announce, “Lunch is ready.”
Art’s heart sank, she will see the shelf and blab to mother. Phyllis’ eyes had not adjusted to the light in the shed so she really couldn’t see anything yet. Hank took a step forward blocking her view of the shelf. “Ok little one I’m hungry enough to take a bite out of your Teddy Bear” Phyllis squealed in mock fear and ran toward the house. She dove behind a rose-bush planning an ambush on her dad. Hank pretended he did not see her. As Art and his dad got near the bush Hank gestured to Art to keep walking toward the house. Then he circled the rose-bush bringing him right up behind Phyllis. Hank made loud growling noise close in behind Phyllis. It startled her into a real scream, she jumped and cried, and protested, “That’s not funny.” Well, of course it was funny to Art. After all, you don’t get to put one over on Phyllis every day and live to tell about it. Art was rolling on the ground holding his stomach. He tried to get control but every time she said, “That’s not funny.” It made him break into peals of laughter.
Hank scooped her up mid protest, put her over his shoulder and carried her for the remaining distance to the steps.
He was just setting her down on the steps when the door opened. Linda was greeted by three smiling and tear-stained faces. “What in the world is going on out here?” she asked, in a voiced edged with real concern. The children started to tell the tale simultaneously. Art is laughing and Phyllis is waving her arms and scowling, Hank was standing there looking innocent. Finally, he put a hand on each of them and they fell silent. He pushed them toward the open door and Linda stepped back, but held Hank in her demanding gaze. He said, “It was all fun, Phyllis was hiding to ambush us on the way to the house and I got behind her and scared her, she screamed and we laughed.” Then quickly added, “Let’s wash up.” Hank and Art headed to the kitchen sink to wash.
Once seated at the table, Hank asked grace and they began to eat. Then, as Art reached for a slice of bread his mother noticed his hands. She said, “Art your hands are filthy, go and wash again, what is that?” Art felt trapped, he would have to tell the whole story now and spoil the surprise.