Ugh – know how somethings just won’t come together? That’s the way I feel about this chapter. So it must be time to post it since I just can’t get it satisfactory.
9 ~ Against The Odds ~
Monday swiftly became one of the most hectic days of my life, even considering the days after Annie’s accident. Flight arrangements were made; Jared and I would leave Tuesday afternoon on flight thirteen-fifty-five for Chicago, one of the few direct flights I could find. It was scheduled to land at four forty-five at O’Hare; Mike had agreed to pick us up. I had argued the need for a rental car, he had convinced me we could pick one up later if we needed.
A friend of mine in real estate had agreed to take care of the house while I was out of town, so that was one worry off my mind. Jared and I had rooms booked at a hotel just two blocks from the ‘El’ so we had a direct connection downtown if we wanted to tour Chicago in our ‘free time’. Somehow, the way Mike talked, I didn’t think we’d be doing much sight-seeing. At least not right away.
I had Mike’s latest two CD’s which I was listening to non-stop. Whether cooking, cleaning, packing, or even driving around town, my soul was constantly immersed in the incredible sounds of my favorite jazz artist and good friend. There were several times I would stop the music and repeat a section while shaking my head. Mac was an incredible artist; there was no way I would ever duplicate his style. The best I could hope was that my own flare would be enough. Mike assured me it would – I wasn’t sold on the idea yet.
Getting the time from work was easier than I had thought, yet not as nice as I had hoped. Ted, my manager, was very understanding and yet very much still the corporate-minded professional.
“Four weeks is a lot of time off, Paul.”
“I know, Ted, and it’s appreciated.”
“You just had two weeks after the wife’s accident.”
“Yes, and even after the four I’m taking now I will have almost three left.”
“Just don’t be gone any longer than a month. If I can do without you for that long, I can probably do without you all together.”
“Ted, I know that’s not a threat …”
“No, Paul. I’m concerned about you, though. I don’t want you losing your edge by being out of the system.”
“Understood. I give you my word, I will be back within a month.”
“That’s all I ask. Take care of yourself and try to have a little fun.”
‘A little fun’. I didn’t see how that was going to happen, but it was nice for the boss to say. All-in-all, however, it was still simpler than my conversations with my own children.
Bobby was the first to return my call.
“So you’re quitting your job to go play music? Da bomb, Dad!”
“Back up. I’m not quitting my job; I’m going to Chicago to help out a friend for a few weeks.”
“But you said he wants you full time, I thought.”
“He does. I’m not sure I want to make that change.”
“Quit being chicken, Dad. I know you live for your music. Or you used to.” He was quiet a moment. “Mom wouldn’t want you to back down.”
“She also wouldn’t want me to jump before looking at all sides.”
“Well, I think you’re being stupid and stubborn.”
“Gee, thanks, son. Your support is underwhelming.”
“Whatever. You’re going to do what you’re going to do, no matter what I or anyone else says.”
“Well, to quote my son – it is my life.”
“Make yourself happy, Dad. Just do what’s right for you.”
“So you got anyone in your life yet? Any lady tickling your interest, or has age stolen your ‘bump and grind’?
“Sometimes you can be a bit crude, Bobby.”
“Just askin’. Have you dated at all?”
“I … have seen someone, yes. I don’t know that it’s going to amount to anything.”
“Ok. Well, have fun. Just stay away from that whore that almost broke you and Mom up.”
“Talk to you later, son.”
So … Bobby wouldn’t be the one to tell I was seeing Cheryl again. Somehow I didn’t think Diedre would be any more welcoming to the thought. I was right.
“You went out with her? What are you thinking? That bitch almost killed your marriage.”
“Don’t yell at me, Deed. I understand you may not like Cheryl…”
“Don’t say her name to me. I hate her for what she did. Please tell me it was a one shot dinner thing and you’re not shacking up with her.”
“Enough. Who I become involved in is not your affair. You are still my daughter. Not my keeper.”
“I love you, Dad – but I won’t have anything to do with that woman. If you see her, you’ll not see me.”
“Well, that’s nice and clear. Thank you at least for your honesty. It’s a shame you don’t have more of your Mother’s compassion.” I sighed. “I love you too, Deed, I just wish you could understand my view point.”
“I understand Mom’s,” she retorted sadly.
“I know you believe so, I’m just not sure as after having been with your mother for twenty-seven years, I see it differently.”
“So I guess we disagree.”
“I guess so. Still love you though.”
“Me too. Love you, Dad.”
Sara’s call was … interesting. Since she is the one child I’ve been able to connect with at a deeper level, she appreciates my acceptance of ‘same-gender relationships’, unlike her sister who finds them ‘sinful’ and her brother who things it’s just ‘disgusting’.
“Maybe Cheryl will treat you better than Annie did.”
Does she use her mother’s name just to goad me? “Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever find someone as right for me as your mother.” Well, I suppose maybe I goad her in return…
“So are you going to accept the offer for full time working with this guy?”
“I don’t know yet, kiddo. I guess time will tell. I’m not sure I have the energy to fight the music realm these days.”
“Then you should find it, because I think you’d be great.”
“Thanks, I appreciate that. Love you, you know.
“I know, Dad. Take care of yourself. And try to have fun. Who knows, you could meet your future partner there.”
“I doubt I have the time to even look, but thanks for the sentiment.”
“Call me and let me know how it goes?”
“Sure thing, kiddo.”
– – – – –
Straight-up noon on Tuesday Jared pulled into the drive and honked. I walked out the kitchen door, locked up, and went around to drop my backpack into his trunk, then walked around and slid into the passenger seat.
“Alright. Guess this is it,” I told him.
“You don’t sound too enthused.”
“I am, actually. Looking forward to it and all, just anxious that I do a good job for Mike.”
“Well, if you really suck, I can always just cut your input from the mix.”
“Thanks. Your trust in my ability astounds me.” I leaned back in the chair and put on my best smug, “rich owner” face. “To the airport, driver.”
“Right away, sir,” he replied with a grin.
Chicago, here we come.