“Cousin Reginald needs a ride to the dentist’s office tomorrow. He’s having a consultation about elective dental work and his minivan is in the shop,” Isaac said one evening. “I’ll take him on my lunch break.”
“I guess he is in his seventies,” Marianne said. “Is he getting dentures?”
“No, he said he’s hoping for shark teeth implants or maybe teeth carved in the shape of hawks or something. At the very least, he wants his canines sharpened,” Isaac said.
Marianne sighed. “More rebellion?”
“Yep,” Isaac said.
“We’ll see you when you get home,” Marianne said. “If he is still experimenting with that awful-smelling homemade cologne, keep the windows open on the way home. I refuse to ride in a car that smells like raw onions and stinky cheese.”
“Yucky,” Charlie said.
“I can do that,” Isaac said.
When he got home from work the next evening, Marianne was rushing out the door to take Charlie to swimming lessons. “Does Cousin Reginald have weird teeth now?” She asked.
“No, to his disgust they said it wasn’t possible. He stormed out when they offered him caps,” Isaac said. Marianne laughed and then rushed Charlie out to the car.
Isaac was home alone. He opened his bag and pulled out the radio that Cousin Reginald had given him. Reginald said he was using it to communicate with aliens, but that didn’t seem likely. It would be just perfect for Charlie’s room. The classical radio station had the most ingenious piano puzzlers. Charlie was sure to love it.
Isaac found a clear space on Charlie’s desk and plugged it in. He turned on the radio and prepared to tune it. “Are you there?” A strange voice asked. It was high and sputtered a little, like a whistle with some water in it.
“Who are you?” Isaac asked. “Are you looking for Cousin Reginald?”
“I spent hours studying your primitive language so that I could tell him exactly what I think of him, and then he’s not even there,” the voice said. It sounded angry. “He may be the leader of the Free Enlightened Thinkers, but I don’t care how well hidden he thinks his people are, if we blow up your planet they’ll all die too.”
Obviously Cousin Reginald really had been communicating with aliens. What had he been saying? No wonder he was so eager to give up the radio. “That would just be playing into his hands,” Isaac said. He tried to sound confident.
“Who are you and what do you mean?” The voice asked.
“I am the person in charge of cleaning up the mess Reginald left behind when he fled. He is a radical terrorist. He fights against authority of any kind,” Isaac said.
“That does seem consistent with his character,” the voice said.
“He probably would be happy to die if it meant taking everyone down with him,” Isaac said. Unfortunately, this was probably somewhat true. Reginald’s rebellious phase had been a bit difficult at times.
“We don’t support terrorists,” the voice said.
“Of course not. You sound like a civilized being. I’m sorry that we weren’t aware sooner that Reginald had seized this communication device and was using it to insult you and your people. I will personally ensure that it is kept in a more secure place,” Isaac said.
“See that you do. When you catch that criminal, tell him I said his arguments are flawed, and single-cell organisms are more intelligent than he is,” the voice said.
“I’ll be sure to do that,” Isaac said. There was a click and then static. Isaac unplugged the radio. He put it in a shoebox and taped it shut. He wrote on it in marker, “Newspaper Articles about Municipal Utility Funding.” No one would touch that. He put it on the top shelf of his closet, in the far corner.
It was time to make dinner so that it was ready when Marianne and Charlie came home. Spaghetti sounded nice and easy, and that’s just what his nerves needed. He hoped Cousin Reginald would grow out of this phase soon. It was a little stressful.