"Hah! I got you!" Brady yelled as he hurled himself at his little brother.
Alfie flung himself backward on the bed, clutching his chest dramatically, gurgling loudly as he fell. "Arrg! You got me, Captain Brady, Terror of the Six Seas!"
"That's Terror of the Seven Seas, Alfie."
"Nope. I'm saving one for me, so only six."
Brady laughed as he helped his brother up. "Okay, you can have the Mediterranean Sea. Is that okay?"
"Sure. Show me." They walked to the world map that took up over half the wall.
Alfie loved geography, but he couldn't read yet. Brady showed him the Mediterranean.
"Now spell it."
Alfie dutifully complied.
"Show me Holland," Brady commanded. It was a game they had made up to go along with the map.
Alfie pointed to Holland with a grin, anticipating the impending entertainment. He loved this game even better than pirates.
"What's it known for?" Brady demanded.
"Tulips and wooden shoes! Norway!"
Brady pointed to it.
"What's it known for?" Alfie asked.
"Um, Vikings and fjords!"
They went back and forth trying to stump one another for twenty minutes until their mother called them for supper.
"Wash up," she called as she walked down the hall. "I don't want a couple of dirty fisted conquerors at my dinner table."
"Yes, Mom," they chorused as they ran to the bathroom.
Tussling and nudging, they managed to get more water on the floor than their hands, but they passed muster as Mom inspected them. Dinner was set up in the living room on TV trays. The boys looked around excitedly. They rarely got to eat out there.
"Special treat," their mother smiled. "Daddy sent a video! He filmed his friends and some of the natives around camp. One of his buddies even taped him working. Now you can see what Daddy does all day."
"Cool!" Both boys sat down to watch.
Their father's handsome face appeared in the middle of the screen. "Hi, boys! Hello, Martha, honey. Well, here we are! Filming on location in the desert hasn't been a lot of fun, but there's some cool stuff to see."
He wandered around doing a travel log for them, showing them camels, Arabs, palm trees and a genuine oasis. He and some of his friends sat around a campfire at night telling stories and singing songs. Several of the Egyptian men who worked with them also told stories from their country. The boys were fascinated.
After about an hour, their father sat alone in his trailer, a wistful smile on his face. "I miss you all a lot. I'll be back soon. The film wraps next week. By the time you see this, I may be on my way home. I love you all. Hugs and kisses to everyone." The screen went blank.
"Wow!" Brady yelled. "That was so cool!"
"Show me where Egypt is, please?"
"Sure!" Brady jumped up, ready for action.
"Clear your places first, boys," Mom reminded them.
"Yes, ma'am," they chorused.
They were just finishing in the bathroom when they heard voices in the front room. Exchanging an excited look, they ran to the living room to see who had arrived.
"Daddy!" Alfie launched himself at his father.
"Dad!" Brady hurled himself at his father's legs.
The only thing that kept their father upright was the fact he was already hugging their mother. Otherwise, he would have been bowled over.
"Whoa, guys! I'm glad you're happy to see me! It's good to be home," he said quietly.