Chapter 22 – Volume – August 2026
The fact that the TV volume had been at full level when he pressed the power button on the TV after he started the Blu-Ray disc playing should have been his first clue. The blast of sound caused him to startle; he quickly grabbed the universal remote off the coffee table and pressed the volume down key while aiming the remote at the TV.
"La'azazel," Tony swore as nothing happened. He pressed the TV button and then volume down; still nothing. He grabbed the TV remote; no response when he tried to lower the volume. Same thing happened with the Blu-Ray remote. He swore again and walked over to the TV to press the power button and to pause the disc playback on the Blu-Ray player.
Suspicious now, he pried open battery covers on the remotes. As he suspected, none of the three he'd tried had batteries. He picked up the remotes for the sound system and DVD player; not a single battery to be found. After a quick check around the family room for the missing batteries, he headed to his office to retrieve the package of twenty-four double A batteries he'd bought the day before.
He yanked open the top drawer of his filing cabinet; yet another curse word escaped his mouth. Instead of the brand new package of batteries, the empty clamshell packaging mocked him from the inside of the drawer.
All he wanted was to watch this short film in peace; none of the rest of the family had expressed an interest, so while the kids played flashlight tag in the yard and Ziva read on her tablet, he'd planned to use the time to see the documentary.
Tony yanked the sliding door to the deck open. Ziva was on one of the outdoor lounge chairs with her tablet. The kids were scattered around the back yard. He flicked the yard lighting to get the kids' attention and moved over near Ziva.
"All DiNozzos, family room; front and center!" He called out to them; he turned and offered Ziva a hand to get up. "You as well, sweet cheeks."
She gave him a questioning look but followed him and the kids into the house. Tony looked at the six other family members. He motioned for them to follow him to the coffee table where he'd lined up the remotes for the various audio and video components.
"We are all well aware of the pranks with the remotes that started earlier this year," he began. The kids shared glances and smirks. "Tonight, we end this once and for all, got it?"
"Yes Abba," all five chorused. Ziva said nothing but watched her husband and the children.
Tony picked up the universal remote, "Who has the batteries for this one? The universal remote?" Tali fished into her pockets and grinned sheepishly.
"Here you go, Abba. And yes, every time the universal remote was missing batteries, it was me," she explained with a sly grin.
"TV remote," he held up the device and looked at the others.
Rivka pulled three batteries from her pockets, "TV was always me. Here are the batteries…" She placed them in her father's outstretched hand and grinned.
"Blu-Ray remote was me," Beth chimed in. She handed her father the batteries from her pocket and grinned at the others. "I was also the one who unplugged the HDMI cables a few times."
Tony looked at the two boys; Anthony shrugged and pointed to the DVD remote.
"I got the DVD remote when we drew for who got what," he explained as he handed his Abba the batteries from his pocket. "I also helped Beth with moving cables a few times."
LJ stepped up last, "I got the sound system remote. I'm also the one who put the volume on high or on mute sometimes." He pulled batteries from his pockets and handed them over. "We were all in on it, Abba… ALL of us." He looked at his Ima as the other kids did as well.
"OH?" Tony turned to his wife. "Even you?"
Ziva smiled and put her hand on his cheek, "Not at first, my little hairy butt, but…"
Beth nudged her big sister, "What did she just call him?" Tali shushed her younger sibling.
"I'll tell you later," she whispered.
Ziva continued, "After being the one who went to get you replacement batteries several times, I started taking more than just how many you needed at the moment. Did you not notice how quickly the batteries disappeared from the new packages you bought?"
"Hmm, yes, but I just figured we were using them up. We do have a lot of battery-operated electronic devices in this house," he replied. "So you took all of the ones that were in the most recent pack of twenty-four?"
Ziva nodded and flashed a grin at the kids, "I confess; they are in my desk."
"Tali and Anthony came up with the idea, and we all added to it," LJ added to the conversation. "We wrote out the device names on slips of paper and drew to see who got what device. When Ima caught Anthony taking the DVD batteries one rainy day, she said she would help if we gave her warning when we turned the volume way up or when we switched cables around."
"Ima is the one who came up with taking all the extra batteries," Anthony explained. "And she sometimes kept you distracted so one of us could take batteries out of a remote."
Riv grinned at her siblings, "It was fun to hide them where you would find the batteries a day or so later, Abba. I still think the best one was when Tali slipped them into the pocket of your recliner." All five kids giggled and grinned at each other.
"Well, it was fun while it lasted, but no more. Okay?" Tony looked at each of the six others in the family, starting with LJ and ending with Ziva. All of them nodded agreement.
"We're cool, Abba. Besides now we can come up with another prank," Beth smirked at her siblings as all four gave her a thumbs' up.
"You have been warned," Ziva quipped to laughter of the others.