Two Days with Uncle Max
by: Jamie T.

Patrick and Mark were on their way to Uncle Max’s. He lived on Merritt Island Florida, which was about twenty-five miles from Cape Canaveral. Their father, Mr. McGreen, was a traveling salesman who had to let the boys stay with relatives while he had business. Uncle Max was a retired astronaut from Cape Canaveral who loved to watch the launching rockets over at the Cape from a lawn chair in his back yard. When they drove into Uncle Max’s driveway at 9 o’clock at night, he was in the lawn chair out back watching for satellites and meteors with his dog Bud lying next to him. Patrick thought, "I sure hope Uncle Max is fun and not crazy, but I guess Dad trusts him." Patrick looked over at his brother Mark and could tell Mark was thinking the same thing.


As Mr. McGreen and his sons walked around to the back of the house, they were greeted by Bud who ran around the corner of the house and tackled Patrick, knocking him to the ground. Then Uncle Max came around the corner and yelled, "Dang it, Bud. What I have told you about jumping on people?" He pulled Bud off Patrick like it was a normal occurrence. Uncle Bud murmured under his breath something about Bud jumping on the mailman, meter reader, tree trimmers, just about anybody. Then they all went back around the corner to the back yard and talked for an hour before going inside to bed. That night the boys slept on the couch, and Uncle Max’s huge husky slept on the rug next to them.


The next morning after they had breakfast, Uncle Max said, “How would you guys like to go flying in my airplane?”


"Yes!", said both brothers.


Everyone got in Uncle Max’s Ford pickup truck and drove to the airport. Patrick and Mark looked out the window at house after house and now and then a bay or two with people swimming or sailing on boats. When they were at the airport, they pulled up next to Uncle Max’s plane. It was dark blue on top and light tan on the bottom, and it was also big, over six feet tall and over ten feet long.


Mark leaned over to Patrick and said, “What is it?”


Uncle Max smiled and said, “TBD Devastator, that’s what it is.” They got in with Max in front, Mark in the middle, and Patrick in the rear.


Mark then said, "Uncle Max, is this safe?"


Uncle Max chuckled and started to answer him, but the engine started, and the whole plane began to roar and shake. The sound of the engine was so loud that Mark and Patrick had to hold their hands over their ears. Uncle Max revved the engine, and they began to move forward down the taxiway. At the end of the runway, Uncle Max turned the plane perpendicular to the taxiway. Then he revved the engine one more time and began to check the instruments. A a few moments later, they started forward out onto the runway. The engine noise started to get louder as they sped down the runway at seventy-two miles per hour. Then they started to rise higher and higher in the air. When Mark and Patrick opened there eyes, they where cruising at one hundred twenty-five mph above the clouds. They circled the airport three more times and then landed. The experience was amazing. Patrick could look out the window at the ground, which at the time was just off the wing tip. They rolled the plane back into place, tied her down, then got back in the pickup and started for home.


Bud was barking excitedly from the backyard. Uncle Max and the boys got out of the pickup and walked around to the backyard. They found Bud beside a hole in the screen door barking at something inside the house. “What in the tarnation!” The hole was too small for Bud to get in, but he had already come close to breaking the door in half. Max pulled Bud away from what was left of the door and went inside. A few minutes later, he called for them to come in and help him catch what Bud had been barking about. When they had gone inside the place, it looked like it had been ransacked, and that’s pretty much what happened.


They saw that it was a raccoon. It was running blindly back and forth in the house, and Uncle Max and the boys began to chase it. Soon things were falling off shelves and tables, and nothing was left where it belonged. Then Bud came in to help them, but what happened was exactly the opposite of what they would have wanted. Bud was running and jumping off the walls and diving over couches and coffee tables. It was like a crazy circus act. After about five more minutes of complete destruction, they finally got the raccoon. But the crazy animal bit Uncle Max on the finger, so he quickly dropped the raccoon. As it ran to the screen door, Bud took chase and grabbed the raccoon's tail, which made it stop dead in its tracks. This made Bud stop, but he was going way too fast, so he ran into the raccoon. They both tumbled out the door into the backyard. By the time Max and the boys got to the door, Bud was sitting there trying to figure out what just happened. because the raccoon was nowhere to be found.


Everyone went back inside and began to clean up the house, putting pictures back on the wall and picking up books and tables. That was when Patrick found a signed baseball by Jackie Jenson and the rest of the Boston Red Sox team. That was his favorite team, and he wanted to know about the player. He said, "Uncle Max, tell me about your signed baseball."


Uncle Max liked baseball as much as Patrick, but answered him, "Later, Patrick. Right now, I better start the grill." Patrick hoped they could stay long enough to get Uncle Max's story about his baseball days.


When they were finished cleaning up, Patrick remembered that he had a box of toy army soldiers. Patrick asked Mark, “Do you want to go outside and play army?”


“Sure,” said Mark.


He and Mark went out to play army for awhile. Mark and Patrick set up their armies on opposite sides of the yard. Mark had the front yard, and Patrick had the back yard. Both agreed that they had ten minutes to set up before a battle. When the ten minutes were up, the battle started by Patrick moving a convoy of trucks filled with solders to Mark's command post in hopes of capturing it and having a quick victory. But before his trucks could get there, Mark had his artillery fire on the trucks. As Patrick’s trucks “burned,” he launched an air raid on Mark's artillery exploding it into a million pieces. Now it was Mark's turn to attack. He sent his foot solders to attack Patrick's airbase, and he also sent airplanes to shoot down Patrick's planes. The battle ended two minutes later. Their battles never lasted long. They started a new battle, then another, then another, and this went on for two hours. By then it was almost dark, and their Dad would be there at 10 o’clock.


As the steaks cooked, Uncle Max, Mark, and Patrick watched the stars and a few satellites. There was one satellite that was going from north to south. Then at that moment, Bud started barking at something beyond the porch light. When they looked back up, the satellites were going east to west. After the steaks were cooked, they ate, and that was when Mr. McGreen came to take them home. They loaded their things into his car and said goodbye to Uncle Max. Then they got in the car for home.


As they rode home, Patrick looked out the window and daydreamed about all the adventures that they had at their relatives’ houses, like the time he and Mark were at Aunt Martha’s and had seen a show about Tarzan and decided to try to be Tarzan too. Patrick jumped out of the tree holding the rope, but the rope was longer than the tree was tall. They thought that to swing up into the tree, they would need more rope, but Patrick jumped and then hit the ground while his poor aunt watched from the window. She didn’t let them play in the tree after that. Patrick also remembered the time that they went fishing and the boat began to sink, and they had to swim to shore. Good thing that the shore wasn’t too far away. It was not easy going to houses where they didn’t know anyone. But both brothers always ended up having a good time. Patrick thought about how he had worried when they first arrived at Uncle Max's. They both had had a lot of fun. “Maybe someday,” Patrick thought out loud, "I'll write a book about all our adventures."


Mark looked over at Patrick and said, "You can't even finish your last book report!"