May came and once again I found myself stepping out of Templeton's car. I tried not to laugh at his expression as he tried to ignore HM.
HM, for his part, was having nothing of it. He was...I know this is a term I often use to describe HM, but it just fits him so well...He was 'bouncing' about, as oblivious to the stares of people walking by as he was to the sight of Templeton rolling his eyes in annoyance.
Although, 'annoyance' is probably not the word I'm thinking of. I have noticed that Templeton often has a great deal of patience when it comes to HM's antics. Much more so that BA or even John. I've also discovered that this hasn't gone unnoticed by HM either.
For a 'con' man, Templeton gets 'conned' almost as often as he does the conning. HM is not quite as innocent as he seems. I've seen him ask BA or John for something and be turned down, to just turn around and win Templeton's approval. It reminds me of when my husband was still alive and one of my children would ask me for permission only after they had been told 'no' by their father. Of course they never told me that and neither did HM mention this fact to Templeton.
On this particular day, the permission received involved the purchase of a large fishtank and all the necessary accessories to go with it. It was one week to the day that HM, while accompanying John on a fishing trip, had managed to 'liberate' John's bait. Much to John's dismay, HM freed his bucket of minnows into the lake with the exception of three gold minnows which he had every intention of keeping as pets.
What a sight that had been! I had been visiting with BA and Templeton when they arrived back early from their trip. We had just settled on the deck when I heard the front door slam and John yelling...
I followed Templeton and BA as they ran into the house to find John standing in the middle of the living room with HM standing behind him. John looked as angry as I had ever seen him, which I would soon find out was because HM had ruined a trip he had been planning for weeks.
"Hey man, why 'ya back so early?"
For a moment I didn't think John was going to answer, but then he took a puff on his cigar and pointed at HM, "Well, we wouldn't have been except that Murdock decided that my bait was being oppressed!"
"What you go and do now fool?!"
It was obvious that John was upset over his ruined fishing trip but setting that aside, it truly was a comical scene. HM had his head down like a little boy who has been scolded, and I'm sure that he had been quite a bit on the way back from the lake, and he was holding a minnow bucket close to his chest. Hugging would have been a better description. John just took another puff on his cigar and headed for the kitchen, presumably to find a cup of coffee, with BA trailing after him.
"Murdock, what did you do?"
"Faceman, he was going to put little hooks through them!"
"Argh...Murdock! They're bait! What did you think they were for?!"
I saw the look that HM gave Templeton with that statement and I could tell that the arguement was already over. If only Templeton could have...
"How would you like it if someone a hundred times your size strung you up to be eaten!"
"I told you not to go. Didn't I tell you not to go?"
"No buts! You know Hannibal's been planning this trip for weeks!" As Templeton took a breath to continue he glanced up at HM. It was then that even he realized how futile the arguement was, "What's with the bucket?"
HM looked up from gazing inro the bucket and fixed Templeton with those sad puppy dog eyes of his, "Can we keep them?"
"Huh? Keep what?"
Templeton leaned over the bucket, "Aaaw, Murdock! Those aren't goldfish! They're bait!"
"Pleeeaaassseee Faceyman! Come one, say we can keep them..."
"They're Hannibal's bait..."
"...with cherries on top....
"Ok, ok! If they're still alive in a week, we'll get a tank."
And so, there we were, one week later, in front of 'Frankie's Fish Emporium', being tugged along by a 'bouncing' HM.
After we entered the store, I stood by the door and just watched as HM dragged Templeton from one display to another. He was apparently very enthusiastic about getting a large tank, although it was only for one...fish?...minnow?...Two of the poor things hadn't made it through the week.
"Murdock, isn't that kinda big for just one..."
"But Face, he's gotta have room to swim and what if he has company? They'd be crammed in that little bowl!"
"Ok, ok...look, here comes the salesman. Why don't you go over there and pick out what color rocks you want, while I get everything for the tank?"
While HM went to contemplate exactly what color rocks should go on the bottom of the tank, I went to stand beside Templeton as he talked with the saleman at the counter. It came as a small shock that he wasn't even trying to 'con' the poor man. Instead, they were discussing exactly what was required to run a 10 gallon fish tank. I couldn't help but smile when he turned his head to make sure HM wasn't watching and then told the salesman to add a large castle to the order.
Picking out rocks was of course a job that required a great amount of contemplation. HM took nearly half an hour before he finally decided that a mixure of colors was what was needed. By that time Templeton was so relieved that he was finally done, he didn't even argue when HM begged him to stop at Belly Buster's for lunch.
As Templeton carried the tank out to the car he passed HM, who was staring transfixed at a tank full of Angelfish beside the door. "No."
HM shook his head as he started to follow Templeton outside, "Sorry fellas."
Two hours later we had just finished setting up the tank in HM's bedroom. "Ok, Murdock, where's the bait?"
"That's his name, Face. Rambo."
"How do you know he's a he?" When he saw that HM was actually going to answer he quickly added, "Just go get...ah...Rambo."
"It was very nice of you to do all this for him Templeton."
"Well, it wasn't much, Mrs. Eta," He pulled his arm out of the water and stepped back to admire the castle he had placed in the center of the tank. "I'm just glad it was only minnows he decided to liberate this time."
As he opened his mouth to explain, we heard a commotion from down the hall. "I'll be right back..."
As Templeton stepped out of the room, I glanced around. I had never been in HM's room. It was exactly what I expected his room would look like, right down to the arcade game in the corner.
"...you're lucky he didn't get flushed..."
I saw HM's face light up when he saw Templeton's addition to Rambo's home, "Aaaww...Faceyman!"
"Ok...ok..." Templeton was trying to squirm out of the bone crushing hug, "Just put him in the tank, Murdock."
HM flashed a smile at me as he started to pour the jar of water containing Rambo into the tank and I heard him say, "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish..."