"...57. 58. 59. 100. 1 billion. 1 billion and one. 11 billion. 100 billion. 100 billion and one. 111 billion."
He wasn't asking the typical questions he asks when counting: "What comes after 49? What comes after 59? Etc."
He was just winging it. And by his calculations...
"We're rich. We're rich. We're rich," he chanted. "Daddy never has to go to work again."
Jewelled rings, beaded necklaces and gold coins--imprinted with John F. Kennedy--littered the desk of the Hilton hotel. Spoils from our day at sea.
We were in Plymouth, Mass., for Justin's brother Jamie's and his bride Sondra's wedding. But before the big event, we had to find the buried treasure that had eluded so many others. Luckily, unlike professional treasure seekers, we are not easily tricked. Blackbeard has nothing on us.
Earlier that day, Nana and Papa brought us to Pirate Paul's boat--Johnny, Richie, 3, J.J., 10 months, Justin, Uncle Johnny and Aunt Erin, good friends the Burts and the Richmonds--cousins from Florida. The boys had fashioned hooks from hangers and wore bandanas on their heads and jolly roger shirts. They told Pirate Paul that they were good pirates. Which is true about half of the time (when they are asleep.)
Johnny showed Pirate Paul a map of the world, which he opened with gusto and taped cavalierly when it ripped. Then he told us what was going on: We were after lost treasure and probably would not encounter any trouble. However, earlier in the day, he had spotted a pirate ship. To be on the safe side, the boys had to man the water canons on the side of the boat.
We sailed out into the bay as dramatic pirate music blared over the speakers. Soon we encountered the enemy ship--a tiny vessel with a treasure chest in clear view. The boys fired their weapons at the boat, and the chest was ours for the taking.
Until...up popped a one-eyed pirate. Face like a sweet potato. I mean he was ugly to the point that he looked like he was wearing a mask. He shot us with a big water gun.
"You barnacle," roared Pirate Paul over the loud speaker. "That treasah is ours. Give us the treasah. Everybody: We want the treasah. We want the treasah."
"We want the treasure. We want the treasure," we all chanted.
"Yell at him," Pirate Paul said. "Call him a loser."
He didn't have to twist Johnny's arm.
"You are an ugly idiot," he yelled. "Idiiiiiooooottttt!"
Finally, the pirate offered to give up the treasure.
"This better not be a trick!" Pirate Paul warned.
The evil pirate blew his nose into his fingers and came up with a handful of seaweed, which he threw at us.
"Pirate buggars!" Paul said. "That's disgusting."
But, being from the Midwest, Johnny and Richie really did consider seaweed to be a treasure and they hung onto it.
Finally, the pirate offered to exchange the treasure for a passenger on our ship. Nana! But when the boys found out he was for real, they begged not to let her be taken. They didn't want the treasure after all.
Luckily, they were able to capture the treasure--or booty, as Pirate Paul called it--without surrendering Nana. And that is why we are now filthy rich.
Paul poured us all a shot of Pirate Juice.
"Hey, this is root beer!" Johnny said.
"Here, have some more," said Pirate Paul, pouring it so that it overflowed all over the floor.
Johnny still wasn't convinced that it was really pirate juice, but he drank a toast anyway.
No, we are not easily tricked. We know the difference between real and fake.
And "That pirate was really ugly," Johnny said afterward.
Richie whispered, "He had a booty," and giggled.
And now we are home in Kansas City. Justin never has to work again. But he went this morning anyway. Just for fun, I guess. We have not yet moved to Mission Hills because moving is such a pain in the pirate booty. So it is our secret (and yours) that we are much richer than when we set sail from Plymouth rock. In memories anyway.