SONS FOR SALE
Rick Simon looked over at his brother from where he sat at his desk with the morning newspaper spread out in front of him. "Uh...A.J. Uh, I think you'd better read this."
A.J. glanced up from the tax statement he was preparing.
"This ad here in the newspaper."
"Rick, how many times have I told you, you are not going to meet the woman of your dreams in the personal section?"
"Hey, don't be do damn quick to knock the personals. I've met a number of...interesting women that way."
"Interesting, yes. Normal, no."
on, A.J., give me a break. If you
really think about it, what's normal anyway?
I mean, who sets the standard for normal?"
"Not you, that's for certain."
"I resent that remark!"
"I'll remember that the next time you call me in the middle of the night to come rescue you from a woman wearing nothing more than a garbage can lid and a hockey mask while claiming to be Zuzanny, Princess of the Planet Trolenka. You were just damn lucky you were able to untie yourself and get to the phone before the Princess started dismembering you with that sword she was swinging in the air."
"She wasn't going to dismember all of me. Just uh...one specific part of me she found to be...intriguing, shall we say?" Rick gloated at the memory. "She said men on her planet are greatly lacking in that particular region of their anatomy."
"And so would have you been had that sword managed to hit its mark," A.J. dryly pointed out. "What the hell was she going to do with it anyway? Pack it in dry ice so she could ship it up to Trolenka via the space shuttle?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"Which brings me back to my original point. There's no way you're going to meet a woman through the personal ads who's normal. Take it from me, Rick, it is definitely not normal to run around naked with a garbage can lid hanging from your neck while at the same time claiming to be a princess from outer space!"
"I suppose not. But up until she brought out that sword it sure was a fun game."
A.J. rolled his eyes. "I can just imagine."
"You'd better not, little brother. Imagine that is. What went on between me and the Princess that night...well, you're still too young to know."
"Oh, gee. My loss."
"Can the sarcasm. And besides, I don't know what we're talking about that for anyway. I'm not reading the personal ads. I'm reading the For Sale ads. And like I was tryin' to tell you before you sidetracked me, I think you'd better take a look at this one."
A.J. craned his neck. "Which one?"
"This one right here." Rick folded the paper over several times, held it up for his brother to see, and tapped an index finger against it. "I've got it circled in red."
A.J. squinted in an effort to read the faraway, tiny print.
"Rick, I don't plan on us buying another piece of worthless junk the business can't afford simply because you saw it in the paper and think it's a good deal we can't pass on."
Rick leaned across his desk and handed the paper to his brother. "A.J., shut your trap and read the ad. I think we've got a serious problem here."
"Okay, okay. I'll read it," A.J. capitulated with a heavy sigh. "For Sale. Two Sons. Son number one has dark, thinning hair, a moustache, and a fondness for cowboy hats, boots, and dogs. He possesses the rugged good looks of an outdoorsman and is tall and thin and able to retrieve things from high shelves. As well, son number one is fiercely protective of those he holds dear.
"Son number two is a handsome blond with bright blue eyes whose male-model looks have broken many a woman's heart. He is a weight lifter and a boxer and good at moving heavy furniture from one room to another. Son number two is an eloquent man with polished manners who is also an accomplished chef.
"Although it is difficult to part with both of the above, Mother must sell. Sons spend too much time in jail, too often come to Mother for bail money, too often use Mother's home as a place to hide unsavory clients, too often rely on Mother to be a part of their scams, too often borrow Mother's car, too often use Mother as a babysitting service for son number one's dog, and too often worry Mother with their escapades. Price is reasonable and negotiable, and Mother will consider selling them separately, though they do compliment one's decor more effectively if purchased as a matching set. If interested, please write a letter of intent with purchase offer and mail it to: Sons For Sale, P.O. Box 335, San Diego, California, 90036"
"So, whatta ya' think?"
A.J. stared down at the ad in befuddlement. "I think we're in trouble."
"Yep, that's what I think, too. I have a feelin' we've finally done it."
The blond looked at his brother. "Done what?"
"Finally pushed Mom to the point that she wants to disown us."
"Disown us! No. Mom would never do that!"
"A.J., what the heck did you just get done readin'?" The woman's got us for sale, for cryin' out loud!"
A.J. hazarded another brief glance at the newspaper he held in his hands.
"Yeah...I guess you're right, she does. So what are we going to do about it? Buy her flowers, candy, jewelry..."
Rick shook his head. "We've done all those things before. I think this calls for a more direct approach."
"A more direct approach? Like what?"
"Pull a piece a' paper outta your desk drawer and write this down."
"Write what down?"
"What I'm gonna dictate to you."
"You're going to dictate something to me?"
"Yeah, I am. And don't act so put out over the whole thing. Once an' a while I have some pretty good ideas, too. So just start writing 'cause I'm ready here."
A.J. did as instructed and retrieved a yellow legal pad from his middle desk drawer. He sat the newspaper ad aside and picked up his pen.
"Okay. But I want it said for the record that I'm doing this under protest."
"Whatever. Just write. Here goes.
“ ‘Dear Sons For Sale, We read your recent ad with great distress. For nowhere in the world could there be a better Mother other than you. Obviously your sons do occasionally take advantage of you--"
The frantic motion of A.J.'s pen ceased and he cocked an eyebrow in his brother's direction.
"Write, A.J. I'm the one doin' the dictatin' here."
Rick looked toward the ceiling in concentration as he resumed his oration.
“ ‘Obviously your sons do take advantage of you on occasion and have been remiss in telling you how much they love you. And you're correct, your sons have no business hiding clients in your house, or expecting you to be a part of their scams, nor should they expect free use of your car, nor should son number one leave his dog with you unless no other alternatives are to be had."
A.J.'s pen never stopped moving as he tried to keep up with the flow of his brother's words.
"What about the issue of jail and bail money?"
"I’m gettin' to that part.
“ 'From this day forward your sons will take extra precautions to prevent spending time in jail and in turn, the need to seek you out for bail money. However, said sons cannot promise such an unfortunate incident will not occur in the future, but can only hope your love for them will overrule your anger. To prove to you that the above mentioned sons are properly contrite for all they've put you through, they would like to invite you on a week long cruise on son number one's houseboat. Your sons will cater to your every whim throughout your travels which will serenely glide you up the beautiful Pacific coast and frequently dock at points of interest.’ "
A wide grin slowly slid across A.J.'s face.
"I hate like heck to find myself admitting it, but this is a terrific idea, Rick. Mom will love it. There's no way she'll be able to stay mad at us after we take her on the vacation you just described."
"Exactly," Rick threw out his chest and boasted. "Which is why I thought of it. Now to finish the letter.
“ 'Please respond to: Sorrowful Sons, P.O. Box 216, San Diego, California 90036, no later than Monday, June 16th, so your voyage may commence on Saturday, the 21st day of June from slip 53 at Coastal Marina. Signed, With Much Love From Your Sons.’ "
Rick looked over to check his brother's progress.
"Did you get all that?"
A.J. dotted the last i and crossed the final t with flourish. "Yep, I sure did. I'll address it and send it out with today's mail."
"Great. The sooner we get that letter to Mom, the less of a chance we have of bein' sold."
A.J. tucked the letter into an envelope, sealed it, then addressed it. "I highly doubt that's going to happen. I'm sure anyone who reads that ad will realize it's a joke."
At Rick's look of skepticism A.J. corrected, "Well...not really a joke I don't suppose. But rather a...message meant to be taken seriously by some woman's wayward sons."
"That woman bein' our mom and those sons bein' us."
"Yes," A.J. nodded as he stood and grabbed his sport coat from the back of his chair. "And we did take it seriously." The blond held up the envelope. "So seriously that I'm going to walk down to the post office and mail it this very minute."
"Good idea, A.J. The sooner we get back in Mom's good graces the better."
"You can say that again."
"The sooner we get back in Mom's good grac--"
"But you said--"
"Never mind what I said. I'm going. I'll be back in a few minutes."
As the office door shut behind the departing A.J., Rick leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on his desk. He laced his fingers behind his head in satisfaction and said out loud to the empty office, "Everyone thinks A.J.'s the brains of this operation, but they just don't know how many jams I get us out of."
Rick pulled his hat over his eyes with the intention of taking a well-deserved nap. "Yep. They just don't realize how smart ole' big brother Rick really is."
ONE WEEK LATER
Before Rick even entered the office A.J. could hear his brother's running footsteps in the hallway.
"A.J.! Hey, A.J.!"
The blond detective reached for the gun hanging from his waistband while rising to cautiously make his way to the door. As the door flew open A.J.'s gun flew out of its holster.
"A..." Rick stopped with all the abruptness of the Road Runner when he found himself nose to nose with the Smith & Wesson. "What the heck are you aimin' that thing at me for?"
A.J. sagged back against the corner of his desk.
"I was aiming it at you because you were running down the hallway screaming my name like someone was chasing you!"
"Oh...sorry. No one's chasin' me. I just picked up the mail."
A.J. holstered his gun. "I can see that."
Rick shut the door and crossed the room to his brother's side. "Mom responded to our ad." The lanky detective pulled a letter out of an envelope he'd already opened. A.J. looked over Rick's shoulder as the oldest Simon began to read.
"Dear Sorrowful Sons, Your recent letter brought me much happiness. It is with great pleasure that I accept your invitation for a Pacific cruise. When we are together for a week as a family we will discuss the other issues mentioned in your letter and come to an agreement regarding them. In the meantime, I am pulling that ad to which I have had many responses. It seems as though there are a number of lonely, elderly women in San Diego who would be happy to put up with your transgressions on a permanent basis. Keep that in mind the next time the two of
you wind up in jail. For now I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your apologies. Love, Mom."
A.J. sighed. "Whew. That's good news."
"Yeah, it is. And all because of me."
"What do you mean, all because of you?"
"Don't choke yourself admitting it, little brother, but it was my idea to write Mom in the first place, you know."
A.J. gave a reluctant nod. "Well...yes, it was."
"And it was one of my better ideas at that." Rick cupped a hand to his ear. "So go on. Say it."
"What was that, A.J.? I didn't quite catch it all."
In-between clenched teeth A.J. took a deep breath. Rapidly he spewed forth, "Itwasoneofyourbetterideas."
Rick smiled. "Yes, it was. And just to allow me to revel in the moment of your humility a bit longer, and to put the icing on the cake so to speak, we're gonna call Mom right now and tell her whose idea it was."
A.J. reluctantly allowed himself to be led to the phone on his desk. Rick walked over to his own phone, dialed their mother's number, then signaled A.J. to pick up the line.
"Hi, Mom," Rick greeted when Cecilia picked up on her end.
"Hi, sweetheart. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Mom. A.J.'s on the line, too."
A.J.'s, "Hi, Mom," wasn't nearly as cheery as his brother's.
"So, Mom," Rick said, "I see you got our letter, huh?"
"Letter? What letter?"
Rick's eyes darted to A.J. "The letter A.J. and I wrote you. It was my idea, you know."
"That's nice, sweetheart, and I'm sure whatever is in it I'll find...entertaining, but I haven't received any letter from you boys. And why would you write me a letter anyway, when you can just stop by the house and see me?"
"Come on, Mom," Rick chided, "quit goofin' around. I know you got our letter 'cause you wrote one back to us."
"Yeah. Here, I'll read it to you." Rick pulled the letter out of his shirt pocket and read it over the phone to his mother. When he was finished he questioned, "Well?"
"Well, it certainly says a lot of things that need saying, and a week long cruise on the Pacific with my sons would be wonderful, but I didn't write that letter, Rick."
"Mom," A.J. cut in, "let me ask you a question before this gets anymore confusing. Did you place a For Sale ad in the San Diego Journal?"
"A For Sale ad? No. Why would I do that? I don't have anything to sell."
A.J. shot his brother a scathing look. "So you didn't advertise Rick and me for sale?"
laughter rang out over the phone line.
"My goodness no, A.J.
Whatever gave you a crazy idea like that?"
Under his breath A.J. muttered, "My crazy brother."
"Uh...Mom, you're sure?" Rick asked weakly. "You're sure you didn't place an ad like that 'cause you're ready to disown me and A.J. for borrowin' your car, and usin' your house to hide clients, and comin' to you for bail money, and--"
"Although everything you just mentioned are constant annoyances, Rick," Cecilia assured, "no, I did not place any type of an ad that dealt with selling you or your brother. Though I have to admit it's a novel idea. Nonetheless, regardless of anything the two of you might do, or have done, I could never and would never disown either one of you. I thought you boys knew me better than that."
A.J.'s teeth and jaw were so tightly clenched he could hardly speak.
"I did, Mom. But you know Rick and his bright ideas."
Again Cecilia's laughter tickled the phone line.
"Yes, dear, I do know your brother and his bright ideas."
Rick's feet sidled across the carpeting in the direction of the office door.
"Listen, Mom, I gotta go. It's been nice talkin' to you. Love ya'."
"I love you, too, Rick."
The cord on A.J.'s telephone was stretched to its limit as the blond attempted to block his brother's path with his body.
"Bye, Mom. I love you."
"I love you, A.J. And whatever mess your brother has gotten you into this time?"
"Please don't hurt him too badly, son."
"No, Mom, not too badly," A.J. promised. "Just bad enough to cause him to remember that next time he has a bright idea I don't want to hear it."
With that A.J. threw the phone in its cradle and ran after Rick who was already dashing for the stairwell in the hallway. "Rick! Rick, get back here! Rick, do you know what you've done? Some woman we don't even know is going to show up at your boat on Saturday morning expecting us to take her on a cruise! Some woman who isn't even our mother! Some woman who's someone else's mother!"
Over the sounds of the clacking heels of Rick's boots and A.J.'s dress shoes echoing throughout the stairwell Rick yelled in desperation, "Yeah well, A.J., I've been givin' it some thought, and I think if we place an ad saying it was a mistake everything will be okay!"
"The only ad I'm going to place will go something like this!" A.J. yelled back as he raced down the stairs after his retreating sibling. "For Sale! One dumb brother! Cheap! No, make that, Free! One dumb brother, free! Dangerous when he claims to have a bright idea!"
And at her home in Mission Bay Cecilia Simon laughed. For even without being present she knew fully well the commotion she was causing at Simon and Simon Investigations.
Cecilia rose from the couch to pack her suitcase for the upcoming vacation she was going to be treated to by her sons. As she climbed the stairs to her bedroom the petite mother chuckled and said, "Actually, A.J., for a change your brother does have a bright idea. A very bright idea indeed. Signed, Sons For Sale."
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