Once Upon A Weekend
    The week had been murder.  Everyone had worked so hard they were completely exhausted.  Even Sam's little brother, Ricky, who was a veritable bundle of energy, was moving sluggishly.    
     It was mid October and construction jobs were scarce, but they wanted to make all they could before the weather became too inclimate.  Still, with two days of rain halting progress and the boss bellowing at everyone every five minutes because he was in a bad mood due to his emminent divorce, Sam decided they needd a break.  When a friend offered the use of a mountain lodge for the weekend, he pounced on it and invited anyone who wanted to come.  As it turned out, only he, Ricky, Ken, and Brian opted to go.  They were eager to get away, even if it was only for two days.
     They were all in good spirits as they drove from the city into the mountains.  Sam piloted the borrowed van while Brian rode shotgun.  They cranked up the oldies radio station to full blast and sang along at the top of their lungs.  
     Due to his cigarette smoke, Ken was relegated to the very back seat where he could open a window.  He stretched out with his head propped on his overnight bag, the smoke curling around him as he moved his foot in time with the music.
     Ricky hooked his legs over the middle seat and leaned back until his head was just an inch above the floor.  He let his arms dangle loose to either side and felt several vertibrae snap back into place.  He was the youngest of the four, just turned 21 that summer.  He had joined Sam in working construction to earn tuition money for college the coming spring.  He liked working outside because he had a difficult time keeping still.  Sam, older by 6 years, had always been in charge of watching over him.
     At the moment, Sam was watching him in the mirror.
     "Hey," he scolded above the radio, "sit up before you fall in the floor."
     Ricky stuck his tongue out at him and stayed upside down, using the back of the seat as an anchor so he could do pull ups.  He was still a big kid, although in stature he was only 5' 10" and slight of build.  As a kid, he'd been a climber, always hiding in trees or dangling from branches by his knees.  His antics drove their mother to distraction.
     Sam was more serious.  He spent most of his childhood playing baseball or basketball.  He kept his focus, never had any problems with his homework, and when he graduated from high school, had taken up working construction because of the physical work.  He didn't like being shut in any more than Ricky did.  
     Like most little brothers, Ricky had tried to tag along with Sam everywhere.  It'd been a cause for many arguments with their parents who insisted that he take Ricky with him.  Sam hated the teasing of his buddies, and he hated having to watch Ricky's every move because he never knew what mischief Ricky might get into, and it was usually a lot.  
     "Don't make me pull over," Sam warned.
     Ken laughed and with his long leg, flipped Ricky over.  
     "Whoa!" Ricky yelped as he landed on his head before tumbling into the floor.  
     He righted himself and crawled back into his seat, rubbing the back of his head as he pretended to pout.
     "Are we almost there?" he whined.
     "Oh, for pete's sake," Sam said.  "Just sit there and be patient.
     Less than a minute later, he was squirming again and Ken reached over to pat him on the shoulder.
     "Don't worry, Rick, we'll get there when we get there."
     One of Sam's closest friends, Ken had grown up with the two brothers.  He and Sam had gone to school together from grade one and both had started working together for the same contractor after graduation.  Ken was taller than Sam, who was the same height as his brother.  Where Sam was husky built, Ken was lanky.  They made a good team, he always said, and, being an only child, he'd adopted Ricky as his little brother as well.  He liked to tease the younger brother, but always good-naturedly.
     Total oblivious to all the ruckus, Brian played air guitar and slapped his thighs in percussion with the blaring music.  He'd met the others on site, an immigrant from Australia a couple of years older than Ricky, but shorter and stockier.  His accent hadn't faded any since his arrival in America five years earlier to live with his aunt after his parents were killed in a car accident.  He was the joker of the bunch and Ricky's best friend.
     It was several hours before they reached the turn off on the road that Sam had been told led to the lodge.  Another two miles and they'd be there.  The road, gravel after the turn through the gate and across the cattleguard, was bumpy, every now and then, causing the van to fishtail a little.  They were about halfway up the road when they heard a pop and the pshhhh of a tire going flat.  The van wobbled to a stop and the four of them exited to take a look.  The right rear tire was most definitely flat. 
     It was getting late and the light was dim because of the clouds.  Cursing under his breath, Sam went to get the jack. Brian went for the spare and struggled with the stubborn bolts that held it in place.  He finally gave up and called for Ken to come and hlep.  They wrangled the tire loose and folled it to the back of the van where they found Sam, the jack held loosely in his hand, and Ricky staring at the tire with confusion.  The tire that had been flat was now fully inflated.
     "Where'd you get that tire?" Brian asked, irritated that he'd fought to get the spare off for nothing.
     "It's the one that was on the van," Sam said.
     "But that one was flat," Ken said.
     Sam and Ricky gave him a 'well, duh' look.  He looked back at them, then at Brian who stared at the tire as if he'd never seen one before.  
     "I know that tire was flat," Sam muttered, then turned and threw the jack back into the van.  
     The other three exchanged glances, shrugged and climbed in.  Maybe they were more exhausted than they thought. 
     
  

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