By Enola Jones

When Chris and Buck returned home from work, JD was his usual boisterous self. Chris was startled when he didn't see Vin anywhere.

Gloria Potter came out of the kitchen and Chris pounced. "Gloria--"

"In his room," she interrupted. "Two shades of red angry."

"Vin gived the swear jar five whole dollars!" JD tattled.

Chris whistled low. Each swear was a quarter. Five whole dollars... He went to find his son.

He found Vin sitting on his bed, holding Cat very tight. His square jaw was set in fury. "Hey," Chris said, sitting on the bed beside him. "What happened?"

"She's stupid," Vin ground out. "She's stupid, and she's trying' to make me feel stupid!"

"Who? Mrs. Potter?"

"No – the lady on the phone!"

"Start at the beginning, Vin. What lady on the phone?"

"The one who's called four times t'day!" Vin snarled. "She says you're takin' out some insurance on me--"

Chris frowned. Insurance? He'd not taken out a new policy on Vin....

"—but she needs my number t'do it!" He growled. "I know I don't know a lot yet, but I know people don't got numbers!"

Chris thought for a moment, then his eyes widened as an idea occurred to him. "Did she ask specifically for your number?" The boy nodded furiously. "Vin, tell me exactly what she said."

"She said she couldn't process your request without the Vin number! I ain't got a number!"

And Chris understood. Pulling Vin close, he said, "She must not have realised you were a kid and used adult code on you."

Vin looked up at him. "Adult code" was what they'd taken to calling all the bureaucratic nightmares they had to deal with. "So she wasn't tryin' t'make me feel stupid?"

"Nope. By one of those crazy coincidences? Every car has what's called a Vehicle Identification Number. A V-I-N number."

"A VIN number!" Vin began to laugh. "So she wasn't wantin' my number --"

"She was wanting the Ram's number," Chris finished, hugging him and chuckling himself. "And I am taking out a new policy on the Ram – I'm switching insurance companies."

Vin leaned against Chris and sighed as the laughter ended. "I'm glad I just misunderstood." He grinned up into his father's eyes. "I ain't stupid."

"Not at all."

"And I know more'n I did ten minutes ago!" Vin grinned.

"Yep. You learned something!"

"I did! Uncle Ezra says that makes it a good day!"

"Uncle Ezra's smart, all right." Chris jostled him slightly. "Now – there's a little matter of five entire dollars going into the swear jar...."

And Vin sighed, deflating.


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