A hot day in Charleston, South Carolina meant two things in the Bradley family. Ice creams by the river followed by fighting. Not the kind of battle that involved voices raised in furious argument, but the sort heralded by running, screaming and waving guns around.
“Duck and weave!” Buzz yelled to his three year old son as the boy attempted to run from the decking at the back of the house to the trees at the far end of the garden. “Ryan! Duck and weave!”
A gurgling laugh trailed behind the boy as each sprinkler soaked his t-shirt and shorts, bare feet padding in the wet grass as he did the exact opposite. In his hand, the water pistol was held tightly, but not aimed at either his father or his sister. He seemed utterly determined to nuke himself with water before anyone else could have a chance and perfectly happy in that decision. Beside him, loyally staying by the kid’s side, a German Shepherd quietly kept pace.
“RYAN!” Came a yell from the distant treehouse set up in the tall tree near their back fence. “Imma gonna get you!”
“NOOOOOO!” The boy howled back, raising his water pistol now and looking to his sister as she slung the homemade sling for her supersoaker across her back and grabbed the handle of the zipline.
As his daughter slid down that low line, knees bent just as he’d taught her, Buzz couldn’t help but grin. While he was intrigued to meet his new team, he’d miss these little moments when he was up in Portsmouth working and hoped it wouldn’t be too long before Mika and the kids followed him. Life had a habit of changing and that was definitely a Good Thing, but he’d enjoyed the last few years of being home almost every night.
Water splattered straight across Buzz’s chest as his six year old shifted to one hand halfway down the zip line and opened fire relentlessly. Emelia shrieked with laughter as her feet then hit the ground and she rolled into the grass, trying to avoid the return fire from her father and brother. The dog chose this moment to abandon Ryan’s side and slope casually over to check on the young girl.
“I got you, Emmy! I got you!” Cheered the little boy triumphantly as Buzz scooped Ryan up and onto his shoulders.
A fierce, friendly fight ensued, two pistols versus the restocked supersoaker, a constant turnover of overly showy ‘deaths’ and rapid ‘resurrections’, happy, excited sound filling the Carolina air until a shout went up from the house. “Dinner’s ready!”
All three combatants turned to regard Mika Bradley as she and an open pistol grip attached to the garden hose ended the battle in a mess of happy cries for mercy. “You win! You win!” Buzz called, running barefoot back up the grass towards his wife, followed by two kids and a dog.