Son of a Preacher Man: Part Thirteen

Rome turned out easier to build than a simple restaurant. When they did finally settle on a design-build firm such as Dave had suggested, the city fought them tooth and nail over the upstairs deck, service bar and bathrooms. Once they finally came to an agreement, Matthew David was eight months old and trying to walk. It was also late in the year for breaking ground on a new construction project. 
 
“Babe, this is horrible timing for me. Why don’t we wait until March?” Elijah told Finn. “If we wait until then to begin, the London Olympics will be over before they finish. We can come home, start searching for a chef and not have an empty building sitting there,” he huffed while doing squats with a laughing baby. “That’s it, son. Jump for daddy!” In another month, they’d have to Velcro his Pampered ass to the couch. 
 
My little star of Dominion was already diving. He’d been swimming for five months and wasn’t the least bit afraid of the water. In fact, the first two intelligible words he strung together were in a hissy fit to go outside with Aiden. “Dada, wawa,” made it pretty damned clear he wanted to go swimming and wasn’t about to take no for an answer. Like father like son. 
 
Finn would read him his favorite book, ‘Winnie the Pooh,’ and acquired the name, “Poobah” while Matthew David was trying figure out all the other names for subjects and objects in his wondrous magical kingdom. That wasn’t too far from “Umpa” which granddad Dave taught him during the holidays. 
 
With everyone there and talking over each other, he wanted more attention and got it by squealing from the bottom of his preternaturally developed lungs. The kid could shriek, finding any and every reason to do so as he neared his first birthday. 
 
Poobah threw he and dada a joint party. Two cakes were too many temptations. They’d turned away for the briefest second when he stood up in his high chair and took a delighted leap of faith, landing head first in the middle of Elijah’s cake. It was undoubtedly his best photographic moment since playing Cupid, and earned him a cover on Parents Magazine proudly sporting his father’s German chocolate icing like a laughing tar baby. 
 
Dada had done very well at the World Championships and the FINA Diving Cup. Afterward, there was little question who the man was to beat. Still, he wanted to hide out the week of March Madness in case they decided to fuck him over again. Nestled in a mountainside retreat in San Miguel Allende because Elijah felt so completely waterlogged from training, he never wanted to go near another ocean again. 
 
His name was the first announced. It was as if no one else mattered to the sportscasters. The pressures of great expectations were an immediate, tremendous weight on his shoulders. Of all the contests he’d fought, won and lost… London was the only one that would matter in the end, the only one people would remember. If he didn’t bring home the gold, all he could carry, the one under his belt, along with Elijah, would become footnotes of Olympic History. 
 
The restaurant, a fearless one-year-old with more energy than the sun, endorsement offers flying in from every corner of the globe, all he and Finn could do was hold each other in the late of night and tell themselves it was going to be alright. 
 
Along with Dave and Cindy, they signed their lives away for another million dollars to reconstruct a wall and actually build something behind it. There would be life after London if they could meet their target and open the damned place by the first of December. The whole enterprise hinged on finding the right chef who could make little asparagus fries with wasabi mayonnaise. Elijah was told to call them ‘les petite pommes frites’ because they would cost ten dollars a plate and set the restaurant back two bucks. 
 
The cost of food wasn’t necessarily the issue. It was all the Volvo trucks tearing hell out of their backyard with Aiden’s assistance. The company had sent all these toy trucks, bulldozers and miniaturized giant earth haulers as a Christmas present. Matthew David exhibited a tremendous knack for rearranging the landscaping with his one dog excavation crew. When Aiden unearthed enough grass, Piglet would find some means of getting water in that hole, caking himself and a very white lab in the black Texas landscaping soil commonly called Armadillo dirt. 
 
He was such a handful, there was talk of leaving him behind when they all migrated temporarily to the British Isles. Elijah wouldn’t hear of it. “Whether he remembers it or not isn’t the point. I will. My son is coming. He was only a sign the first time. If I could get away with it, Aiden would be sitting in the stands, too. At least that way, the two of them wouldn’t be digging up my effing yard.” 
 
Alexis was the only hold-out. First year medical students were supposed to spend that one, almost-normal last summer immersed in something field-related to their interests. Hers was family medicine. She was curious to find out how the British delivered care under a more universal system. The idea bought her the time to please two masters, family and faculty. 
 
The mother of Satan was the first to arrive on her mostly-self guided tour. It went largely unnoticed until the fireworks started when Elijah showed up. He and Alexis were in a secret relationship Finn didn’t know about. He also had no clue about the affair Elijah was having with the openly gay male Swiss skier. There was no end to Matthew David’s ability to move dirt… or the press’s capacity to find mountains of it that didn’t exist beyond a few bored, limpid pens that considered their ‘work’ a mission from God. That didn’t include the journalistic geek squad which thrived on Mountain Dew and conspiracy theory click-bait. 
 
Volvo’s ‘Creative Lab’ had wanted a commercial featuring my little Star of David and Aiden for their featured sponsor slot at the Olympics. It was very clever and beyond cute. I’d never driven a car, but it made me want to rush out and buy one. They were pimped-out in sunglasses, and Aiden looked like a street thug in all that gold bling. Matthew David, in diaper and a Hawaiian shirt, absconded with dad’s key fob to start the vehicle. 
 
After getting the door open, he climbed up and Aiden grabbed the back of his diaper to give him a little power assist into the seat. They were off with the dog driving and thumping out rap on the twelve-speaker surround sound. Their heads bobbing up and down were done with CGI, but David had to master the now-iconic peace sign flash when a car would pull up next to them at a light. 
 
One such light, someone ran through the intersection. The Volvo stopped itself by locking the brakes. Aiden’s leg and paw reached for David’s chest like any parent would’ve under similar circumstances. It was high silliness, but a tremendous hit when it started airing the day before Elijah’s much-anticipated first dive from the three meter springboard. 
 
Finn and his little superstar were mobbed by the press and adorning fans trying to touch the golden child who’d absolutely stolen the show along with a billion hearts. Not bad for a kid a year-and-a-half old. All afternoon the cameras at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park kept panning on he and Finn. Each time his dad or grandma would point to the cameras, David would laugh and make the ‘V’ shape with two tiny fingers before clapping wildly. It was his move, and the boy was nothing if not a complete showoff in his Captain America shirt and navy cargo shorts with his Texas Rangers baseball cap. 
 
Unbeknownst to the Hoffmans, there was another famous family sitting two sections up above them, Happy Connick, Jr., his wife Jill and their three daughters, all considerably older than David. Cindy saw them waving on the big screen and felt the faint stirrings of a long forgotten memory.  When Harry and Jill came down the steps, she waved and so did Michael David. 
 
Jill laughed and waved back, pointing at the baby and flashed him back with her own peace sign. When they came up from the concession pavilion, Jill wanted to hold the baby. “Oh my God, we saw the commercial last night, Finn. That was so precious.” 
 
“Baby, it wasn’t just precious. It was nine kinds of genius,” Harry injected. “How many commercials does that make for you now, tiger? Three, four?” 
 
Finn shook his head. “It makes three, Harry. We have another one to do for Christmas again. There’s no telling what Volvo will come up with next. Oh, and congratulations on the Horchow Award. Elijah and I both love what you and Branford have done with the Musician’s Village. When all the craziness is over, let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.” 
 
“Absolutely, BoyFinn. Will do. Let me ask you a personal question if you don’t mind. Are the rumors true that Elijah can sing?” 
 
“Oh yes, and he plays anything with strings or keys, too. You guys definitely need to hook up when we get home.” 
 
One of the peculiar things about celebrities meeting each other in chance encounters is the fact that no one needs an introduction, phone numbers or addresses. They also don’t need a reason to call when someone is already a part of that very small, sometimes overly-cloistered world. 
 
When Jill tried handing the baby back to his dad, Matthew David gave her a kiss on the lips and forged a bond that would be very long-lived between the two families. David was like Cindy in that regard. They both knew good people when they saw… and once in a great while, even kissed them. 
 
Elijah’s first dive was one he’d worked on tirelessly for a year in secret. The 4.5 somersault in a pike position had never been attempted at the Olympics from either the high or low boards. He certainly hadn’t wasted it on the Pan Am Games. From the 3 meter springboard, it carried a difficulty degree of 4.8. Anyone who could pull it off was assured of taking home gold. Finn knew he could do it. He’d done it a dozen times, though not with a billion people watching. 
 
Stepping onto the diving board, he looked to the stands along with half the cameras. Matthew David was in BoyFinn’s lap doing squats and holding up his sign, ‘You’re My Hero, Dad!’  
 
Soon as Elijah’s last toe was in the water, Finn stood up screaming. “Mom! He did it! He fucking did it! Baby boy, your daddy just won us a gold medal!” 
 
Alexis was trying to look bored when she took the baby away. “Don’t piss your pants, Finn. Did you ever have any doubts? Who else would be insane enough to try that dive? The man is a God when he’s wearing a Speedo.” 
 
Her brother looked at her with a sly grin. “Girlfriend, he’s a God out of that Speedo, too.” 
 
“Don’t rub it in, star fucker. Here, take Satan back. I need to pee before the medals presentation.” 

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