A Surprise Meeting chapter ten

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Cover image courtesy of Nina
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When Janet and John approached Walter’s house, there was a note taped to the front door. On the folded piece of paper was written “For J. and J.” Janet took it, opened it and read aloud. The note stated, “Dear Janet and, I presume, John. Walter here. I am writing for everybody. You are reading something written by me, your father, Harold Goldman, Oliver Bentley, Spencer Tilden, Peter and Luke Marvin, and a fellow who knew Sherman Goldman, named Tyler Findlay. In reality, Tyler’s attitude is included. He had no say in the writing of the letter. I just wanted to give him respectful credit. Everyone else, however, agreed upon the words contained herein.”

John asked, “Whoever heard of a letter written by so many people?”

She shrugged. The letter continued, “If you knocked on my door and received no answer, we have decided to go in hiding. One of Peter Marvin’s coworkers found out about the complex bank embezzlement. Yes, we referred to lawsuits but it was purely embezzlement. No money has been embezzled yet and the police are not looking for us but we figure there is nothing wrong in securing our freedom and privacy. The name of the coworker and the amount of money will not be mentioned by me. You won’t get in trouble for what you don’t know.”

“This sounds a bit suspicious.”

She continued reading. “Your father wanted you to know he understands why you still resent your mother. He also resents how she decided  to leave the family. She told him she was joining a spiritual commune. He had reasons to believe she used that as an excuse because she felt he shunned the world of thinking to become another jerk in the cesspool known as the law. In reality, Steven never gave up the art of thinking. He used it to implement a practical type of occupation so he could make money. Bernadette, knew this.”

“Do you resent your mother?”

“No, I don’t. I miss her and I would like to see her again but I can accept if she needs to find a different situation more akin to her peace of mind.”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I only had first names of people who could have been my father. Tom, Paul, Rick, Lowell… I never knew him.”

“Maybe your father wanted nothing to do with what could have been a life of hell with the Goldmans.”

“That would apply to all the possible men.”

“How many?”

“Nine or ten.”

She whistled. “Okay. In that case, concerning how blood tests were not considered as accurate as they are now, they didn’t want to be pinpointed for something they figured there was only one tenth of a chance in which they were responsible. It’s a different kind of escape than what my mother did but I’ve come up with a theory. Anyone who runs from something is running to another thing. Sometimes the compulsion to run towards something is so strong, it takes over. It does not mean there is neglect intended.”

“Is that why you’re clinging to me? You want to run to me and away from what you’ve known?”

“Do you want the full answer to your question?”

“So far, this has been a rather strange mystery. I would like to know.”

“Let’s go back to my place first and then I’ll tell you.” They walked back to her house and then went inside.

He asked, “First, are you getting tired?”

“I think so. It’s been an interesting day and my gripping your hand does take effort. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. It just means I’m aware of how energy works. Anyway, you’re my ideal. I hold on to you and I become you. You have something going on because you act awkward in unacceptable situations. You remind me of myself. So, I’m latching on to that which takes me away from fake reality.”

John said, “This might sound strange but I get what you mean. You, with your tucked in shirt and rolled up sleeves… when you met me and shook my hand, you respected me because you looked your best for when we became attached. You could have easily just as well have overlooked that aspect of what you did but you were conscious of your appearance.”

Janet looked at the letter. “There’s something about that here. Should I read it?”

“Sure.”

She read, “Steven mentioned how Bernadette had not been greatly concerned about if she looked presentable. Not that she thought about looking bad but she just did not think about it. You, Janet, were and still are the opposite. You always tuck in your shirt and refuse to wear it any other way, even if someone tells you to do so. Perhaps you remember when I offered to pay you close to one thousand dollars and you refused. Your father thought you showed the same type of persistence he had when becoming a lawyer. He saw a stubbornness in you that would be right for the types of cases he deemed eccentric.”

“Is your style a direct attempt to not be like your mother?”

“If you’re asking if I wanted to be the opposite of my her because I resented her leaving the family, my answer is no. She saw spirituality only through thoughts. I see spirituality in physical things as well as mental. I see spirituality also in actions. I believe that persistence is spirituality. Persistence is honesty and sincerity. This is the true me. Truth is not only in deeds done but deeds repeated.”

He pointed to the letter. “This goes on quite a bit.”

She read, “As far as your father and Harold Goldman are concerned, Steven had a friendship with Harold’s father, Sherman, and accepts Harold grudgingly. You took care of Sherman for approximately six months before he became close to an invalid. Sherman associated you with your father, as far as kindness was concerned. Sherman also sensed his grandson, John Goldman, was also very kind and he meditated every night, hoping there would be a way you would connect with John. He talked with a friend of his, Tyler Findlay, about how to discover a way to bring both of you together. Tyler was a mechanic along with Sherman for the San Francisco transportation system. Tyler brought Sherman to Himalayan Journey for dinner. Tyler told him that once the mind was open to new ways of thinking, new solutions could be discovered. Sherman had never eaten that kind of food before and he understood that if John became familiar with you, instead of only his relatives, his life would be better. Sherman did not know how that would have came about but, if he knew that you planned on gripping John’s hand forever, he would be pleased. He was hoping you would find a solution for his wishes.”

He said, “It was like the spirit of Sherman went inside you and it’s him gripping my hand.”

“No. I talked with Sherman about you and jokingly mentioned doing this and he thought it was a good idea and then later I thought of it seriously.”

“What else does the letter say?”

She read, “This part of the letter is for John. Young man, you never knew your father and neither did I nor Steven Baker or any of the Goldmans except your mother who knew that one of the men she slept with fathered you. However, Sherman resolved that your father was probably a better person than any of his family. I would disagree with him. Harold kept me company when I was in the hospital and had no one I could call a friend to talk with me. I must say my peace in that respect. I do not agree at all with how Sherman felt about your uncle. I will tell you what Sherman thought of most of his family because it ties into his philosophy according to your momentary situation. I am assuming you are with Janet. Sherman thought that Harold was gay and never revealed it. I know Harold is gay because of personal experience. During an encounter, he got caught by his boss and was fired. I will assume you do not need further details.”

He said, “I guess I should have known, even though I didn’t.”

She continued reading. “Harold knew Peter Marvin independently of the situation involving the embezzlement. However, Peter suggested Harold get involved but not because of the money. Peter wanted Harold to feel better about himself by meeting other gay men. Oliver Bentley and Spencer Tilden and Peter Marvin all knew each other and they were happy to know Harold. Luke Marvin, Janet’s friend and coworker, is only involved with the embezzlement part of things. He knows about the other and he does not care. Sherman thought that his children were purposefully wanting to put misery upon their own children. He saw how Christine, Harold’s daughter, was obese. He also thought Harold was miserable to his wife, Thelma. She was also obese. Your mother was obese. Sherman saw that you were slim and he figured you were capable of happiness, more so than the other Goldmans. Since we are all in hiding and you will not see us anytime soon, I will say that Steven approves of the both of you staying joined together. Harold hopes you find happiness because he is finally at peace with his sexuality and does not feel guilty about eating spicy foods anymore. I don’t know if what you are doing is right or wrong but everyone deserves to be happy. Yours truly, Walter Denton.”

He shook his head. “Wow. That was interesting. I’m wondering, though, if you have any food.”

She shrugged. “I made a soup earlier today before I went to work. I put it on low heat and it’s probably ready by now. That was a peculiar segue way.”

“I just figured we had food for thought so maybe now it’s time for food for stomach.”

She laughed. “Okay. I understand that.” They walked in the kitchen. With her free hand, she put out a small bowl and then ladled some soup from a pot. She put a spoon in the bowl and said, “Enjoy!”

John took the spoon and sipped some soup. “This is tasty. It’s nothing like my mother makes. What’s in it?”

“It’s my own take on the ideas I heard from Sherman. There’s lentils and lima beans and ground turkey meat and potatoes and broccoli. The spices are black pepper, salt, mustard, sage and savory and tumeric. It’s my take on a synergistic health trip. I believe in a positive vibration coming from food.”

“That’s not how my mother thinks. She’s afraid of spices.”

She nodded. “She’s afraid of them because she was conditioned by them being prepared poorly by her mother. Her fear of spices is equal to your fear of me. That’s another reason why I’m adamant about our touching. I’m taking away your fear.”

“Do you think I’ll get over my fear?”

“Are you admitting you’re fearful of me?”

“No but I don’t want to be argumentative.”

“Okay. I think that, if you are fearful of me, the fear will eventually go away.”

He finished the bowl of soup. The warm broth felt like natural medicine. He asked, “Are you going to have any of this?”

She turned off the stove. “No. I might eat tomorrow. My day has been exciting and I’m ready to rest. How about you?”

“Sure. Let’s go to sleep.” They walked up the staircase. Everything looked close to exactly how things were in his dream. They entered her bedroom and sat on her bed.

She asked, “Did this room look the same in your dream?”

“How did you know I was thinking about that?”

“It’s probably the energy from you to me.”

“I want to lay down.”

“Okay.” They laid on the bed. John moved his hand back and forth, handshake style. He figured that, since that was the way she was holding on to him, he might as well think of them involved in a regular handshake that lasted a little too long. She smiled and said, “Nice to know you.”

“What if I escape?”

“Please don’t say things like that. It’s not a trap.”

“But you know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean. I would think I failed.”

He smiled. “Well, don’t worry about that now. I’m going to sleep.”

“Okay.”

He closed his eyes. His plan was to wait. In the meantime, an image came into his mind. She was outside a courthouse in Bulgaria. She had on a white turtleneck tucked into black and white checkerboard pants with a black belt and a black jacket. She had a silver owl necklace on also and she did a thumbs up when John strolled by.

She said, “Congratulations. You won the case.”

He asked, “What case?”

“The case concerning whether or not compulsion is appropriate in our lives.”

“I wasn’t in court. I just finished leaving a jazz concert.”

She smiled. “It’s a wonderful night, right?”

“Yes. It’s nice and cool. ”

“By the way, you were in court.”

He frowned. “How so?”

“This building that I’m standing by… it is a courthouse… it is The Center for Performing Arts… it is everything.”

“How did we get here?”

“Your grandmother, Gerte, catered dinners here. She’s Eastern European.”

“She was born in New York.”

“Her parents weren’t.”

“I’m confused.”

She sighed. “How easily you forget. We are stuck together. This is an image in your mind.”

“Does that explain why you are not holding on to me?”

“You got it.”

He opened his eyes. She was resting. According to his observation, she was asleep. He waited an approximate ten or fifteen minutes to make sure. He lifted his hand. Hers was still firmly clamping tight. With his other hand, he tried prying her fingers open but could not do so.

He got out of bed and tried walking but could not go far. He pulled as hard as possible but her grip remained firm. He went back on the bed and laid down.

She was breathing peacefully. There were no odd movements indicating she was fooling him.

As soon as he could get his hand free, he would show her how she could trust him to stay with her. He felt like they would not be a couple until she let go.

The process was taking longer than necessary. She must have employed a type of super grip that allowed nobody to alter it. Was she perhaps studying martial arts?

More time passed. He thought about tickling her but he did not want her to wake up. He wanted to sleep, also, but felt way too hyperactive to relax.

She was affecting him more oddly each passing minute. He needed to maintain calm. Today was an unusual day. Tomorrow, things would get back to normal.

Finally, sleep overtook him. He knew he was dreaming because he was in Bulgaria with her again, by that building. However, now they were holding hands like a regular couple. He did not want to find out if she would prevent him from letting go. He was not even sure he was in a dream but he did not want to spoil the magic. The moment felt good. He said, “Maybe we should see a movie.”

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A Surprise Meeting chapter nine

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Cover image courtesy of Nina
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As they continued walking, John felt suddenly that Janet was insincere. He figured he was a part of a devious plan and her role was to keep him from whatever was really going on. When they turned on to Valencia Street, where she and Walter lived, John thought about Walter’s party. Little details were coming back to his memory. What seemed trivial at that time was now more like pieces to a disturbing puzzle.

Walter had talked with Zachary about someone but no names were mentioned. Walter said, “His father was ashamed, from what I was told. The poor fellow had written something with hopes of getting through to the guy but the son wouldn’t listen.”

Zachary nodded. “I understand. When a son feels he has fallen in love with another man, he cares not one bit to hear what his father has to say about women. He told me he was hoping to be a part of something so he could use his father’s money. It’s supposed to be a strange scam with your friend, the lawyer.”

Walter said, “My friend doesn’t know that I know the guy. I was hoping he’d show up tonight so I could surprise him. But I didn’t know about any scam. I think I’ll ask my lawyer friend about it.”
“There’s rumors of hanky panky and I believe it. There’s at least two other people involved and, from what I hear, they all get together but they aren’t there for the purpose of talking.”

“That’s even more interesting because I never sensed anything about either my friend or the other guy being that way.”

“Probably your lawyer friend isn’t involved like that. I think it’s a strange kind of extra perk for the other three, as if they’re celebrating their future lives as millionaires.”

“Well, the fellow in question could have had the decency to be honest about that with me.”

John realized now that they were talking about his uncle. He was not exactly sure who Walter’s lawyer friend was but he would not be surprised if the person was Janet. To her, he asked, “Did Walter tell you something about my uncle?”

Janet shrugged. “He said Harold had talked with him when Walter was a patient. From what I understand, your uncle was a lot cleaner back when he was working.”

“I’m not referring to that. Did they talk about a scam? Wait a minute… the lawsuit between Oliver and Spencer… is my uncle involved?”

“I think they are very happy to spend time together.”

He was annoyed. She was avoiding the points mentioned. He stopped and so did she. He asked, “Are you keeping me away from something?”

She answered, “I’m keeping you from trouble.”

He tried pulling his hand loose. “What sort of trouble would I be in?”

She squeezed tighter and frowned. “Your mother is a lot of trouble and so is your uncle and his family. You need a change in your life and I need a change in mine. Please stop trying to let go!”

“I think there’s more about everything than what you’re telling me and we’re going to Walter’s place for some reason I have yet to know.”

“We’re going to his house so I can discover more clues about this.”

“You’re being evasive. I’m afraid that Walter might do harm to me and you’ve been told to drag me to him. The way you’re holding on is like I’m being kidnapped!”

She raised her voice. “You are not being kidnapped! You can go home whenever you like. I’ll just be going with you. I’m providing a situation for you to feel a realm of love. It’s what I call Himalayan Unity.”

John stopped trying to let go. He had no clue what she meant about Himalayan Unity but her tone seemed sincere. “Are you telling me you really don’t know everything about the lawsuit? Were you or were you not the one Walter asked about the scam?”

Janet sighed. “Okay, I will let you in on something. The person handling the situation is my father, Steven Baker. My father is a friend of Walter’s. Walter knows your uncle. You already understand that. It is coincidence that my father handled your grandfather’s inheritance.”

“This is starting to make sense but it’s also just as unclear as it was before. What does your father have to do with you gripping me?”

“I had a dream about you sometime after I saw you at the party. When you had ran away from me that night, I was going to shake your hand and never let go. It probably had something to do with you not wanting to hug me in the kitchen.”

John nodded. “Why, exactly, did you want to hug me? Did Zachary tell you something?”

“Zachary had told me you were getting a glass of milk for somebody but that’s not why I wanted to hug you.”

“What’s the reason, then?”

“Do you remember a time when you visited your grandfather and I was there?”

Suddenly, another memory came back to him. Grandfather Sherman never visited his children or grandchildren, supposedly because they indulged in drugs, but he requested John to visit him a few times when Sherman was an old man. During one visit, there was a woman tidying up some papers for several minutes before she went inside a guest bedroom. John assumed she was a maid or a nurse but did not inquire about that. He asked, “Why did you want to see me, grandfather?”

Sherman said, “Please excuse an old man who walks slow and has little time left on this earth. I do my best to stay in good physical health but the reality of time still moves on. I cannot say I regret distancing myself from your mother, Rose, and my son, Harold. However, I do regret not spending more time with you. Rose made it clear that I was not to pass information along to her about nutrition. My wife, your grandmother Gerte, had been a caterer who owned her own restaurant for a while. She made a lot of money at it but that was something in which I did not know until later. She had not indulged us with any of the food she cooked for the public. At the restaurant, she would make linguine with clams, spaghetti and meatballs, coq au vin, lamb shanks and cabbage sauteed with garlic, onions and wine sauce. At home, she served canned meats and raviolis. Once in a while she might make stewed beef cutlets and mashed potatoes but she loaded the food with way too much salt and pepper and used margarine instead of butter so everything had a thick aftertaste of grease on it. Our neighbors told us of how wonderful the food was where she cooked for customers. Rose felt like her mother abused her by giving her meals that were less tasty and prepared with less love. That is why Rose blamed both of us for ruining her taste buds. I had no time to cook. I worked long hours fixing railroad cars. I was not even a driver. I was a mechanic. I made enough to support the family but the hours were rather long. Harold did not mind the food Gerte made and, in fact, gained weight because of what she served. Rose did also but then, when she left home, she got an idea of not using spices or seasonings on anything. She compensated by eating way more than any portions her mother fed her. She got even angrier at us for the immense weight gain and preferred I not visit her after Gerte died.”

John said, “I think it is strange that my mother would eat larger portions of food and think that was healthy.”

“It has to do not so much with nutrition than the culture. We are of Eastern European descent. We were born in the United States but we were products of our genetic lines. Some people have a psychological comfort from what can be called The Full Belly Factor. Gerte did not believe in it, or she did not around the family, and she fed us enough to feel we were served a small but sufficient sized meal. There were things about my wife’s childhood she never told me except she alluded to rough times. Her philosophy was to never gain too much. She told us that it was best for one to be thankful for having a small amount. She said that the people who became rich were most prone to lose sense of how to exist on little. According to her, rich people would be the most helpless during any time the economy collapsed because they relied on their money to get out of problems instead of using potential survival knowledge. When I discovered later, after she died, that she saved a lot of money, enough for us to be called millionaires, I was shocked but I now see why she had the money. She wanted a security nest in case the day came a major catastrophe hit. She did not believe in living a wealthy lifestyle but she did not believe in being unprepared. Rose, however, must have inherited the Eastern European psychology of The Full Belly Factor because a part of her idea about leaving home had to do with feeling she could eat however much she wanted. That was her sense of security. Harold just liked food… as well as other things which I can talk about in a minute. I was more like Rose in wanting a full belly but, later in my life after I found the money, I saw how huge a few of my neighbors became and they complained about stomach problems so I was glad I did not become like them.”

John asked, “What were some of the other things Harold liked?”

Sherman shook his head. “I’ve changed my mind about telling you. I think he is not aware of his desires yet. Let us just say he has a very certain preference when it comes to his relationships with people.”

John thought for a moment he knew what his grandfather meant but then decided there was a possibility Sherman was referring to something else entirely. “Do you hate Harold?”

“I wish for him what he does not wish for himself. I wrote a letter to him, deciding how I now feel about life. Maybe you could read it at some point. I believe it would be good for you to do so. Let me change the subject. What is your opinion of the woman who you saw going in the guest room?”

“I only saw her for a minute.”

Sherman noted. “I suggest to go to the restroom and, as you pass her by, you look at her and form an opinion.”

John walked towards the restroom. As he passed by where the woman was located, he looked at her and noticed she had on a long-sleeved black and red T-shirt, with the word Sports on it. The T-shirt was tucked into leggings that had a belt on them. He felt an automatic sense of arousal. She turned towards him, with her arms extended for a hug. John did not know how to react. He walked back into the living room where his grandfather was sitting. John said, “I like her very much but I have to go now.” He exited Sherman’s house.

Now, Janet asked, “Will you answer my question?”

John said, “I was thinking of when I visited my grandfather. Was that you in that room? Oh, my. I apologize for my behavior. You wanted to hug me back then. I ran off, like I did when I saw you at Walter’s party.”

She nodded. “Now you understand what I really mean when I say I need to find clues. I need to know more about you.”

“You can ask me anything. You don’t have to keep holding on. I won’t run away.”

She laughed. “From my experience, you will run away. I cannot take that chance, especially after I read something your grandfather gave me.” They approached Janet’s house. She opened the door and they walked inside.

John was amazed. “This is just like the dream I had.”

“What dream?”

“I had a dream I lived here and so did you and you shook my hand and wouldn’t let go.”

“When did you have this dream? Was it before or after Walter’s party?”

“Before.”

She nodded. “Okay. I also had a dream but it took place after.”

John was nervous. “Were you wearing a thick sweater tucked into belted jeans with the sleeves pushed up?”

“Yes.”

John shook his head.. “This is too weird.”

“No, it’s beautiful and it confirms that what I’m doing is the right thing. You need to read something.” They walked to a bookshelf in her living room. She grabbed a pamphlet and handed it to him. “Your grandfather wrote that. Originally, it was for Harold but he revised it so it was for anybody. He told me he thought that I was the type of woman you liked and I ought to do what I could to get to know you.”

John looked at the pamphlet. It was entitled My Understanding Of Happiness by Sherman Goldman. The first paragraph stated, “I, Sherman Goldman, am a man whom life has given many years, some of which I would change if I could but some I find myself loving. The years I love are my recent years. For the information to the reader, I am a widower with two children and two grandchildren. One child is a daughter who has her own psychology which indicates, at least in part, I should keep my distance. I am fine with that because I am disturbed by her appearance. The other child, a son, is confused about what he wants from life. I saw it in his actions when he would purposefully bang his head against a door and say he was not worthy of existence. I wrote a first draft of this to him but, when he saw it, he gave it back to me and made no comment. I resolved that the advice was sound so I have made an updated version of the letter and it has become what you are holding now. If you are reading this, you probably know me personally.”

Janet pointed at another paragraph. “This is the part that’s important.”

John nodded. The paragraph stated, “My wife used to be a caterer. However, the things she made for the family was not of the same quality. Recently, a friend of mine, a fellow coworker who is retired like myself, brought me to a restaurant called Himalayan Journey. The food was remarkable. I researched the Himalayas and saw there was more than one country comprising the mountain range. I looked into the foods and found things such as Ema datshi, made with chili and cheese, ngapi, which is fermented seafood, mohinga, a rice noodle and fish soup, Dal blat, consisting of steamed rice and lentils, momo, a dumpling that is traditionally filled with yak meat and eaten with various sauces, and Lassi, a drink of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. The cuisines of China and India, which are somewhat more familiar to me, are also a part of what can be called Himalayan Cuisine. I am simplifying this. There is more to the Himalayas than the little bit of the cuisine I explained but I found that, when I ate certain foods from those countries, my state of mind became happier. I felt reborn. I realized that a person will be in harmony with life when that person becomes more connected to diversity. I call it Himalayan Unity because of the food I ate which made me feel great not only physically but mentally. I believe togetherness, not separation, is the answer.”

Janet asked, “Did you get to the part about togetherness being the answer?”

John said, “I did.”

She took the pamphlet from him and put it back on her shelf. “Sherman thought that the reason Harold was confused about his sexuality and felt depressed was because he grew up eating foods that were not prepared for health. Harold ate food that represented economy and low budgeting. That’s what Sherman thought. I’m not saying I agreed with his assessment of Harold but I think the pamphlet had some good points. I grew up with a love of philosophy and the arts. I let my father talk me into becoming a lawyer, which is something I would not have done on my own, but I learned something when I studied law. It’s a bit complicated what I learned and I won’t talk about all of it now but it’s helped me realize that something can be justified if it is done with conviction. I put everything I learned into one big realization and that was how important it is to have a counterpart. You’re my counterpart.”

John realized he ought to stick with his original plan of escaping when Janet fell asleep. Eventually, she would get tired after focusing all her energy on him. He said, “I never would have thought of it the way you put it.”

She said, “It seems like the difficult part is over. All I have to do now is convince everyone involved in Spencer’s and Oliver’s scam that they can do whatever they want and I don’t want to be a part of it.”

“How are you involved?”

“It wasn’t like I was really involved. I was more like a backup person in case something suddenly happened and I had to verify whatever needed verifying. I was like a personal reference.”

“You’re not going to do that, now?”

“I’m not interested in stopping them. I think it’s bizarre but it’s their business. I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I just want to be with you.”

He nodded. “Is that going to be your job… to be with me?”

She sighed. “I’m serious. We’re going to find everyone and I’m going to tell them they can do whatever they want and I’m going to make arrangements for us to live together in an environment where we can stay joined.”

“Where do you plan for us to live?”

“Oregon could be a good choice. Some of my old high school friends are there.”
“Sounds interesting.” He did not want to ask her how she would handle the situation of changing her clothes or taking a shower. The day was getting later and he figured she would finally doze off.

She smiled. “Where are we going to spend the night? My place or yours?”

He shrugged. “Your place sounds good.” He was more confident now that she would snooze and then he could pull his hand out of hers.

“We have to go to Walter’s right now.”

“I agree.” They walked out of her house.

A Surprise Meeting chapter eight

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Cover image courtesy of Nina
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Stephen frowned. “Where is Janet?”

Walter nodded. “I think I might know where she is.” He walked up the stairs and noticed she was squatting, holding on to the rail with one hand and reaching out with the other.

Steven walked towards them. “What’s going on?”

Janet said, “I was on my way down when I suddenly got a sense of a certain energy pulling me towards it. I realized what it was. The young man named John, who left the party with his uncle… I was supposed to connect with him. I had a dream about him. We were in my place like how everyone is here now. We were touching hands and were not supposed to stop. Is he here? I must attach myself to him.”

Walter said, “That’s very interesting. Do you plan to glue yourself to him?”

“I plan to hold his hand and never let him go.”

Steven shrugged. “Are you in any condition to come downstairs and be a part of the conversation?”

Janet asked, “Is John here?”

Steven was concerned his daughter was regressing back to her old habit of studying too much philosophy. When he was younger and still living at home with his parents, he was fond of the arts and humanities, also. His father told him that he had to get his own place after high school or plan to live on the streets. Steven realized that philosophy had been impractical. He studied books on finance and law. His friend, Alfred Krantz, was going to start his own law firm with money from his father. One day, Steven asked him if it was a good way to make a living.

Alfred said, “Yes. Everyone has legal troubles. Some people have misdemeanors and others have more problematic situations but the law is strict and firm and no one is scot-free from its wrath. Lawyers are like gatekeepers who can help clients get a free pass out of the Hall of Trouble. Sometimes it takes a very long time for that free pass to be acquired and that very long time can mean a very large payment to the gatekeeper for his efforts. In a lawyer’s world, the time from three o’clock to five o’clock does not mean merely two hours. It means two hundred dollars in some cases. If you want to make money, law is the most attractive way to do so, in my opinion.”

Steven nodded. “Isn’t law the opposite of free thinking?”

Alfred smiled mischievously. “The world is very scientific in its functioning but how we perceive it is philosophy. Law is really an empirical structuring of concepts. So, lawyers are like philosophers who manipulate moral judgments. It is not a matter of right or wrong but a matter of legal or illegal. That is why I like law. Is it illegal for me, a seventeen year old high school student, to drink alcohol? Yes. Is it wrong? No, it is not wrong. I get good grades and I have never hurt anybody physically and I have never teased anybody. When my parents ask me to do chores around the house, I do them. When I am finished with all my responsibilities, I drink a Bloody Mary concoction, vodka, tomato juice, a squeeze of lemon, celery salt and a dash of clam juice. I listen to a Brahms concerto. Am I a fan of the law? Let’s just say I want to be prepared if ever I need to quote it.”

Steven asked, “Do you consider yourself a philosopher at heart who uses the law for intellectual stimulation?”

“I am a philosopher who uses the law as my bullet proof vest.”

“Could I perhaps get in on the law firm when you start it?”

“I would like having a partner. Baker and Krantz has a good ring to it. I have to go to law school to earn my degree. If you enroll in law school, also, and if you get a degree, you and I can be partners.”

Steven enrolled in law school and earned his degree approximately the same time Alfred earned his. They opened Baker and Krantz Law Firm in the Sheffield building located in one of the nicest areas of town. Their firm was successful for a few years. Then, Stephen and Alfred were less interested in law. Steven gave his part of the firm to his daughter, Janet. Alfred kept his part but suggested to Steven they include a third partner. Luke Marvin was a friend of Janet’s. He just finished law school and earned a degree. Steven figured Luke would help entice Janet to feel the law firm was an appropriate place to earn a living. Luke’s brother, Peter, worked at the local bank and sometimes gave Baker, Marvin and Krantz clients. So far, everything was going fine but now, if Janet was squatting on her stairs, reaching out for a man who was not in the house, the situation could be complicated. However, Steven thought of a way to fix the dilemma. He said, “John is not here right now but I know of a way to bring the two of you together.”

Janet stood up. “That would be great!”

Walter winked. “As a host of a popular game show might say, ‘Janet Baker, come on down!'”

She walked and asked, “Are you sure I will be seeing John? I don’t want to be involved in this scheme unless it means I can have him.”

Steven said, “As far as I’m concerned, if you want to weld yourself to him, I’ll hold the torch.”

“I need to be sure that I can spend the rest of my life with him.”

Steven nodded. “I have a plan.”

They sat down again, Stephen and Walter back on the sofa and Janet on a recliner next to Luke. She asked, “How is everything going to come together? I need to know if your plan and my plan can connect. I have been studying the Himalayas and the philosophies of the people. I need this to mesh with my new spiritual understanding.”

Peter said, “Well, the Himalayas are tall mountains and the amount of money we’ll be making will stack high. That’s a similarity.”

Janet said, “According to my way of feeling that everything is connected, I will agree that’s a start. Thank you, Peter.”

Peter laughed. “You know I was just making a joke.”

“Jokes are positive energy. Thank you for giving me some positive energy.”

Peter shrugged. “Seems like you took a dose of something.”

Steven cleared his throat. “We all need to be on the same track with this. Janet, can you please explain to us what you learned through your studies of Himalayan philosophy?”

Janet nodded. “In essence, I am tuning in to yoga and holistic health. I think the Himalayas are beautiful and so are the various people. When one is high up, a lot of the world’s problems vanish. There is a certain mental enlightenment one gets when breathing fresh air and seeing wonderful trees. One’s diet also helps with feelings of contentment. I ate some lemon pieces this morning and drank warm water. My nerves became stimulated naturally so I could wake up and feel refreshed. I chopped the garlic cloves so I could swallow them like pills and I ate a salad and had some vegetarian vitamins. I made a few soft boiled eggs with a piece of bread broken up in it and a few shakes of black pepper and I drank a cup of ginger tea. My body feels refreshed. I looked out of my bedroom window and saw the trees on the sidewalk and the neighbor’s lawns. The houses looked excellent. I felt philosophically in tune with my surroundings. When I’m at work, those feelings of contentment go away. I do what I can to integrate myself. I did not have an understanding of why I needed always to tuck in my shirts but now I know it is for me to feel I have joined everything together. It goes with my sense of psychological harmony. If I am in a place where I do not feel good, I can at least say I am comfortable with the completeness of my body image and I feel better about myself.”

Herald shrugged. “You should meet my nephew, John. He’s really into women who dress like you do.”

Janet nodded. “That’s my next point. The purpose of our world is to connect with others who are in tune with one another. If John likes me, he will complement me when we are together. He is the environment I need to feel complete harmonically. He has to be my power supply. Otherwise, I’ll have no more purpose.”

Steven was optimistic about the plan moving in the right direction. If he set things accordingly to what ought to be the final result, everyone would be happy. He said, “I have an idea. Harold, do you go to the doctor’s on a regular basis?”

Harold shrugged. “I don’t have any choice. Ever since I started listening to Walter and getting fat and eating unhealthy foods, I’m afraid I’ll have a heart attack.”

“When is your next appointment?”

“My doctor said I should wait a few months before seeing him again. I don’t know why. I think he feels I’m in better health than what I believe to be true.”

“Does your family know this?”

“I haven’t told them yet. They usually don’t care about hearing of doctors. They prefer I tell them about my appointments a few hours before we have to leave the house to get to the hospital on time.”

“I’d like you to make them believe you have an appointment within the next few days and that it is urgent. I also want you to pretend you really don’t want to go. You will have Rose, your sister, want to bribe you into going. When I talked with her about you, she sounded concerned about your diet but also about you keeping your appointments. Is your hospital close to a restaurant?”

“The Elegant Nibble is about a five minute walk away.”

Steven smiled. “I like that. Janet works across the street. Harold, make sure John is there. Janet, if you want to see John, your best bet will be for you to go into the Elegant Nibble and approach him.”

Janet said, “I’ll want to do more than that. I’ll want to grab him.”

Steven said, “The best way to do that is to offer to shake his hand.”

“What if he doesn’t want to shake my hand?”

“I’m sure he will but, if he decides not to do so, you can then grab it.”

“Okay. I can go with that. I’ll give him a handshake that will never end.”

Steven nodded. “Harold, you might as well do something in the restaurant to make it appear you are offended and have to leave. You’ll go to Janet’s work and let her know if John is there.”

Harold said, “That’s fine. I’ll make sure I ate a good meal before I go so I won’t get too hungry.”

“Perfect. Now, Oliver, let’s make it so that, if Janet needs an excuse to be at the restaurant, the excuse can be that she is there to meet you.”

Oliver said, “I’ve always wanted to eat there. How about you give me one hundred dollars so I can order something fancy? That will inspire me to be a good actor.”

Steven took out a stack of bills and handed them to Oliver. “Done.”

Oliver winked. “Thank you.”

Steven said, “Luke, you can play the heartless creep, in case Janet has to come back to the office.”

Peter said, “I would prefer to be the creep.”

Luke laughed. “You are the creep but I can do a decent enough job.”

Janet said, “Okay. This all sounds rather twisted.”

Harold sighed. “Do you know what’s twisted? I have to sneak salt and pepper packets in my own home so I can eat food that doesn’t taste like nothing. My sister, Rose, wants her son, John, to get married to one of the obese women who work at the discount store. She drives Thelma up the wall to the point where Thelma has had it with people altogether. I knew Thelma when she was a patient at the mental institution and she was a lot more together than my sister.”

Walter asked, “Why was she in the institution?”

“She was falling in love with her neighbor who was a woman. Thelma thought there was something wrong with her mind. She was thin but she ate a lot of food with the strict purpose of being fat so she could have another problem to deal with other than the lesbian tendencies. She didn’t know she was lesbian. She thought she was straight and somehow wrongly obsessing towards a woman she did not like. She committed herself, thinking she would get over her feelings if she talked to a psychiatrist and took medication for her state of mind. When the doctor told her she was a lesbian and her feelings were perfectly normal, she felt resolved. She was able to admit it to herself so I admitted I was a gay man. We fell in love with each other, not sexually but because of a lot of things we had in common like our ideas about life. I didn’t care if she was heavy set. I mean, if I had been straight I might have had an opinion about it but I loved her for who she was and vice versa. When we consummated the marriage, we did not really enjoy the experience but we were able to get through it. That was the only time and Christine was the result. We were both happy we had a child. It made everything seem like it was with purpose.”

Janet nodded. “From what you told us, Harold, I feel like John needs me. If his mother is his repression, I will be his emancipation. I can have food brought over from a restaurant specializing in different cuisines that are a part of Himalayan culture.”

Walter asked, “What do you mean by Himalayan culture. Isn’t there more than one culture?”

“The Himalayas are a mountain range comprising Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, Chhoghori, Nanga Parbat, Makalu and Lhotse. The countries included are Bhutan, China, Indian, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. A restaurant could call itself a Himalayan restaurant if it has one or more of the cuisines of those countries. It’s not as simple as me saying I believe in the culture of the Himalayas. I have to say I believe in the diverse cultures of the different countries involved. However, I find their cultures to be much more attractive than anything American, with the exception of rural farm people. I do like the idea of being a farmer and growing my own food.”

Walter frowned. “How exactly does the Himalayan culture idea tie in with holding on to a man’s hand and never letting go?”

“It has to tie in with yoga which has to do with harmony and it has to do with holistic health that ties in with wellness. Plus, those different countries share the Himalayas. John and I share a certain energy which will have its own name when we are joined.”

Luke said, “Sort of like you are two mountains that become one. Even if he panics and tries to escape, you’ll be joined together by the sheer physical aspect of bonding.”

Janet frowned. “I don’t like what you said about John panicking.”

Peter shrugged. “It doesn’t matter whether or not you like it. The point is you don’t know how he will react.”

Steven said, “At this point, I don’t care how he reacts. If he is the center of what will allow Janet to be in on this plan with us, he will be involved. Okay, he might find himself trapped forever with a woman of his dreams while I will be trapped with a lot of money that can assure my early retirement from needing to work. I can then also pay back Alfred Krantz who loaned me money back when I was in college so I could eat and not waste time in a job having to do with manual labor. He said it was a gift but I want to do a good deed for him. He’s been my friend since high school and he told me a lot about how to be practical in the world. I want to give him the type of gift he gave me.”

Harold said, “If you give Alfred Krantz a big chunk of money, though, that’ll affect how much I get!”

Steven sighed. “You’ll get back what you invested plus a lot more. I may not think of you as a close friend like I do most everyone else here, but I am a conscientious man when it comes to business. I may involve myself with cheating someone but I will be fair to who helps me cheat.”

Harold nodded. “Okay, then. I’m just concerned about when Rose decides to order a lot of bland food at the restaurant.”

Steven shook his head. “I thought you said you would eat ahead of time.”

“I’m not sure what I plan to do, yet.”

Walter said, “I suggest you do both. The Elegant Nibble is one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten in. I usually just buy food at the discount store so I don’t know the reputations of all of the restaurants in town but I did enjoy my meals there.”

Janet asked, “Before I decide not to help you all and merely look for John on my own, why don’t you tell me now, specifically, what you are doing? I’d like to know what this big money plan is.”

Steven nodded and clued her in on everything.

A Surprise Meeting chapter seven

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Cover image courtesy of Nina
http://www.fiverr.com/ninaig

Steven Baker and Walter Denton were sitting on a sofa, in Janet’s living room. To their right, on another sofa, were Spencer Tilden, Peter Marvin and Oliver Bentley. To Steven’s and Walter’s left, on a recliner, was Luke Marvin. In the middle area, Harold Goldman sat in his electric wheelchair. Zachary Norman was invited but he declined because he was uneasy about what everyone was planning.

Steven felt uncomfortable with Harold attending the meeting. However, oddly enough, Harold was responsible for most of the money invested in the project. Steven said, “This is one of the strangest legal proceedings I have ever dealt with, if it can be called either legal or a proceeding. I’m glad I’m giving this one to Janet. She has her head in the clouds and won’t question anything.”

Harold shook his head. “This had better work. I invested a good chunk of my father’s money to get the ball rolling… which reminds me, I’m still not exactly sure what’s going on.”

Spencer winked. “I can explain everything to you tonight in bed. All you need to know now is your money is getting put to good use.”

Oliver said, “I think it’s only fair we tell Harold a little bit of our plan. Even if he is simple-minded, without him, this wouldn’t have occurred.”

Steven said, “Yes, Oliver… you’re right… but look at the guy. We all wore clean clothes. I’m not even talking fancy clothes. Oliver, you have on your farmer’s overalls and plaid shirt and Spencer is wearing a plain T-shirt and jeans but we all smell nice. Harold is wearing the same filthy sweatshirt and sweatpants he’s worn ever since I’ve known him and that would have been okay if he had washed them occasionally but I very much think he never takes them off. Look at the red splotches of tomato sauce.”

Harold said, “That’s blood on my sweatshirt. I bumped into a wall this morning.”

Walter laughed. “You bumped into a wall? That’s the sort of thing the patients would do at the hospital when they were so drugged up they tried to escape.”

Harold yelled, “I’m not losing my mind! I did it on purpose! I have absolutely nothing in my life. I have to feel something! I’ve lived as a failure. Do you know what the kids in school called me? Frog Face. I had glasses that were oddly shaped and it made me stick out.”

Spencer said, “I still see a bit of the frog in you. It isn’t because of the glasses. You have a certain physical shape to your face which, if I had to be purely technical, would be considered extremely repulsive.”

“Thanks a hell of a lot!”

“Oh, no. I wasn’t finished. I was going to tell you that it makes you attractive to me. I don’t know if it was my culture in which I was brought up or if I have a sick and twisted sexuality but I feel like God made you specifically so he could make fun of you.”

Harold screamed, “How the hell can that make me feel better?”

“If you stop interrupting, I’ll tell you. God gave you a certain look as a way to make fun of you. God was saying, ‘This man shall not be loved.’ For some reason, when God made you, he was angry. Maybe he attended a party with the angels and they wouldn’t refill his wine cup. I don’t know. But, for whatever reason, he took it upon himself to make you an example of who not to love. It was meant as a challenge and that sort of thing drives me wild. I don’t see ugliness as ugliness. I see ugliness as beauty. The odd shape of your face, which is only just a hint frog-like, is something I find very attractive. I prefer people who look like you. Why do you think I’ve been going out with you these last few weeks?”

“I think you’ve been going out with me because I’m supplying you and Oliver with money.”

“Let’s not get into that, Harold.”

Steven said, “On the contrary, the whole reason we’re here is to discuss it.”

Spencer nodded his head. “I know. I’m just saying I don’t want to discuss the personal elements involved between Harold and I.”

“Thank goodness.”

Oliver said, “I want to quickly add that I do not feel I am taking advantage of Harold. The money issue is another thing entirely. I like Harold because he’s more my age and we have a lot in common as far as where we grew up and the things we’ve experienced. Plus, he hasn’t admitted to his forays into the gay world when he’s with his family or when he’s out in public. I haven’t, either. Both Harold and I had families. He still has his. I left my wife when my son was two years old. I know I wasn’t meant to live the life of a normal married husband but the people from my past, who knew me then, assumed I was heterosexual and I never corrected them. I haven’t lied about anything but I haven’t told the truth, either.”

Walter pointed at Harold. “Don’t worry about what Oliver’s telling you. I’m happy you decided to throw away the shackles of your fake healthy diet. You’ve become as large as me. I commend you. What have you been eating?”

Harold patted his stomach. “I haven’t gained any weight. I’m still only three hundred pounds.”

Oliver said, “Don’t worry about revealing the whole truth. People don’t understand.”

Harold frowned. “You’re not fat, Oliver.”

“My point is people don’t need to know every bit of your truth. Don’t consider this to be denial. You have the right to tell people whatever you want them to believe.”

Harold yelled, “I’m not lying to anybody!”

Walter shrugged. “Hey, I’m sorry to need to tell you this but you’re four hundred pounds. It’s beautiful. You must have decided to eat some of the things I mentioned to you.”

Harold pouted. “I try not to but that damn Peter Marvin forces caramel popcorn and Cool Ranch potato chips in my mouth whenever I visit him.”

Peter held up his hand. “Please don’t add me to this conversation.”

Spencer laughed. “Oh, can it. Everyone here knows everything about what’s going on.”

Peter nodded. “You’re right.”

Luke said, “I’m not sure, though, how much Janet knows.”

Steven nodded. “This is true.” He remembered the day he visited Walter to mention how happy he was about his daughter acting accordingly to his expectations. She had previously been friends with various local artists and musicians and tended to talk about philosophy. Steven used to like philosophy but later realized it generated no money. He was surprised Janet listened to him when he suggested she attend law school. One day, he talked with her teacher, Professor Rusev. His intent was to bribe Rusev into giving her a good grade. Rusev mentioned she was an excellent student but he would not turn down a gift. Steven gave him a decent amount of cash. He did not care about repercussions. He thought his actions were reasonable.

When he told the story to Walter, Steven added, “Some of my clients have been difficult to work with. I’m hoping to pass some of them to my daughter so I don’t have to deal with them anymore.”

Walter asked, “What clients do you have in mind?”

“I am thinking of when I dealt with the inheritance of Sherman Goldman. I knew him when he was really old and about to die. He asked me to advise him on whom of his children in which he should leave his money. I said that I never met his children and I didn’t know who may need it most. I told him he could leave it to charity but he dismissed that idea. He said he did not want to give anything away to a bunch of people he did not know. He figured that his son, Harold, who worked in a hospital, might be the most responsible even though he was a little bit strange.”

Walter shrugged. “Did he elaborate on why Harold was strange?”

“He did not but I figured that I ought to see for myself how his children behaved. I needed to know the circumstances in which I would be dealing. I visited Harold’s sister, Rose, who lived next door. Her place was a mess. She had tons of empty cans littered on the floor and a mountain of newspaper coupons and grocery receipts spread everywhere. She apologized for the cans but said she was saving the coupons and receipts in case she won some kind of contest. I said I was a friend of her father’s and I wanted information to give to him because he wanted to finalize his will.”

Walter said, “I’d like to know what she said.”

“She said her brother was basically a responsible and conscientious man even though she thought he had a quirk. He was apparently collecting catalogs that showed a lot of pictures of men in underwear. She thought that was strange because he never ordered anything from a catalog and it was all clothing way too small for him. She said he would be home and staring at the men. She would ask him what he was doing and he would say he thought his wife, Thelma, would like to see him in that type of underwear. But Rose said that Harold was otherwise a regular person who sometimes indulged in too many sandwiches with unhealthy fruit jam and peanut butter with salt in it but tried to watch his diet somewhat.”

“Did Rose mention Harold’s family?”

“How did you know Harold had a wife and daughter?”

“I’ll tell you in a minute.”

“Rose said that Thelma was way overweight. Thelma is Harold’s wife. Also, supposedly, the daughter, Christine, was also very heavy set and not about to lose weight anytime soon. Thelma liked to snack on junk food and watch television. She usually would not say much in conversation and would merely nod her head as if she heard you but was not quite able to convince you of it. Christine was more talkative but kept contradicting herself. One day she would say she hated junk food and the next day she loved it. I couldn’t assess who might be best to handle the inheritance based on Rose’s description of them. I figured they each deserved some money. I told Sherman he should divide it equally among them and he did that.”

“Thank you. I know Harold. He works at the hospital where I stayed a couple of weeks.”

“He doesn’t work there now.”

“I didn’t know that. Anyway, I invited him to my party, which he attended. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it.”

“I heard about the party. Janet told me there was a fellow she desperately wanted to meet. His name was John. She said she had to connect with him and there was no way she could feel complete until it happened.”

Walter smiled. “Rose’s son is named John.”

“That’s interesting. I finally knew about him when I handled the finishing touches on Sherman’s will but I would have had no clue Janet met him.”

Walter nodded. “She can be unpredictable but I think she is also too much of a perfectionist. She seems to need everything exact according to her way of how things ought to be or she can’t cope. I remember when she visited me a couple of days after I left the hospital. She wanted to know if I was feeling better. I said I was. I told her I was self-conscious and vulnerable when the nurses came in and changed my underwear. She said she would feel the same way if she wore her shirt loose. I took out a stack of money and said I would pay her if she could wear it that way even if only for a split second. She pulled at some of the material but acted like her shirt was stuck. She shrugged and said it was the best she could do. I kept trying to coax her but she apologized and said she just did not have the courage.”

Steven nodded. “Well, there’s a situation I think would be great for her. Two friends of mine, Spencer Tilden and Oliver Bentley, were technically homeless for a while, for reasons having to do with not paying rent and spending their money on alcohol, but I bought each a house and now they act more responsible. For a while, Spencer sang in a band that played at a local bar and Oliver liked their music and became a fan of Spencer’s. They told me about something so twisted it could work. I’m getting older and law stuff is less interesting than it once was so I decided to be a part of the crazy scheme. I figured I would get Harold Goldman involved so, in case something terrible happened, the weight of everything would come crashing down on him. I want Janet involved so I can cover my tracks in case word gets out I’m a part of it.”

Walter said, “I’m interested. After I left the hospital, I felt like I needed to change my routine. I’d like to be included in this, if I can.”

Steven agreed to let Walter join the fun. Now, as he sat in Janet’s living room, waiting for her to come down for the meeting, he thought about Walter’s knowing Harold and Janet’s interest in John. Steven felt the whole thing was surreal. To Luke, Steven said, “That’s why you’re involved. If Janet knows more about this than what we planned for her to know, you have to pretend you don’t like Oliver Bentley.”

Oliver frowned. “Why does it have to be me?”

Steven shrugged. “I thought of it at random. But, it does make sense. You have a farmer’s style which could tick off a city dweller.”

Oliver said, “I wear overalls because they’re comfortable. They have nothing to do with me being anything, let alone a farmer. I grew up in San Francisco on 20th and Connecticut. Where are any farms there?”

Spencer smiled. “I’ve been in that area, recently. It’s very nice. Everything is upscale. I remember when it used to be just lower working-class places and a lot of it looked like a dump.”

“That’s how things were when I lived there.”

“It’s not like that now.”

Steven said, “I’ve been there this past year, too. Spencer is right. The place has improved. However, let’s stick with the reason we’re here.”

Harold said, “I’d like that, also. I’ve been putting money into this and I’m still not sure what you’re doing.”

“Harold, I thank you. I’m sure you’ve missed that money but we’re going to get it back.”

“Of course I want my money back but I really want to know what’s going on!”

“You will know.”

*When?”

“As soon as we tell you.”

“Are you going to tell me right now?”

Steven shrugged. “That depends on your interpretation. If you feel we’ve not told you enough, that’s on you.”

Harold made a fist. “It sounds like you’re not going to tell me one damn thing.”

“That’s possible.”

Peter said, “Harold, this is your first time in a situation like this. Some of us are lawyers and some are not but most of us have dealt with situations involving complicated things and we know how to discuss issues. You haven’t had as much experience in reasoning or planning so I think you would be wise to just listen.”

Harold asked, “What the hell are you really trying to say? Are you asking me to shut my trap?”

“I am.”

“Well, I won’t.”

Peter nodded. “I can call a few people I know to come over and join us. They’ll be standing next to you, making sure you behave appropriately. You’ll want to comply.”

“What kind of an asshole are you?”

Luke said, “I agree with Peter that we should have someone make Harold relax but I also understand why he’s upset. I don’t think it’s wrong to let him know that this involves a property scandal.”

Harold sighed. “I already know that much.”

Steven said, “Harold, you’re really too simple-minded to grasp what we’ll be talking about. That’s why I said it’s possible we won’t be telling you everything. It’s not that we’d be holding anything back. It’s more that I believe you won’t retain any of what we say because you won’t understand the words.”

Harold pouted. “I’m not a simpleton!”

“I’m afraid you are. Don’t be angry. It’s not a value judgement. You were just raised by simple people. Your father worked at the public transportation system and your mother spent most of her time cooking food. That’s very nice. I wish my mom had cooked good food. But you spent most of your life in San Francisco.”

“I went to Las Vegas when I was seventeen. I spent my summer there.”

“Okay. You’re one percent more complex than I thought.”

Harold shook his head. “I guess my simple ways and my simple money can leave right now.”

Oliver said, “I still think of you as a friend. You can come over and visit me anytime.”

Spencer said, “Just bring a load of money when you come back to my place, pops.”

Walter held up his hand. “I’m mostly just here to witness everything so it might not be my place to say anything but Harold is my friend and I’m getting the feeling the rest of you are teasing him. Some are using more subtle tactics than others but I agree with Harold that you haven’t yet really explained to him what this is all about. I’ll make it as concise as I can. Spencer is allegedly suing Oliver for ten dollars. I say allegedly because Spencer is only appearing to sue Oliver. There is no real lawsuit. But, because of a piece of paperwork that misprinted the amount, Spencer is allegedly now suing Oliver for ten thousand dollars. As a countersuit, Oliver is suing Spencer for one hundred thousand dollars. Steven bought Spencer and Oliver a couple of houses which, if this thing goes to court and someone wins, one has to sell his house or give it to the bank in exchange for the money. Peter works at the bank and will be in charge of the sale. To keep this short, Peter will pocket the money the bank gets back and it will be enough to divide equally among everyone involved, including you, Harold.”

Harold nodded. “I understand that. I’m not so stupid.”

Oliver said, “I want you to know, Harold, that, regardless of whether or not you really understand what’s going on, it does not affect the way I feel for you.”

Luke said, “My main concern isn’t Harold. My concern is Janet. She is very smart and she’ll want to investigate everything.”

Steven said, “I believe that my daughter is in a different mental area right now. I can talk about it later when the time is more appropriate for a discussion about her but I don’t think she’ll give us any problem.”

Harold asked, “My one question is, if you’ll be getting all that money from the bank, why did you need my funds?”

Walter said, “That will be for the judge we pay to play along.”

Harold nodded. “Okay, that’s fine. I thought it was something serious.”

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за лечебните сили на любовта

Не само лятото на 42-ра

Нека историята да се повтори

Какви думи Truth дръжте Really

Каква истина се държат думи наистина ?

The неоправдано представителството на тяло и глас

може би да мами или да призная,

ухото на слушателя не чува потта и се трудят

истини са само очевидни

много пъти съм се опитват да уловят

същността на ситуация ,

осигуряване на ключ, който не отключване

вратата към друго е интерпретация

истини са само очевидни

каква истина се държат думи наистина ?

Те могат да бъдат ценен само в

Така те са получили.

A Surprise Meeting chapter six

image

Cover image courtesy of Nina
http://www.fiverr.com/ninaig

Janet was not sure if she was in a dream. She was home and wearing a tucked in sweater so she kept her composure. However, there was an odd sense that she just appeared in her living room without her knowing what happened previously. She did not remember putting on that sweater today except, in her memory which was coming back, she knew that she had worn it for a whole month, without ever taking it off.

As her memory was returning, she recollected spending one day, two weeks ago, cleaning her house so guests would not complain. No one complained anyway but she liked to safeguard against the possibility. She reached up, dusted the ceiling, scrubbed the floors and washed the walls. As she stretched, her sweater stayed tight as though it could never be removed. Her sleeves were secure where they were pushed up, never working down from her arms, even when she tried pushing them. She was concerned that, should there be a time she needed to take it off, it would stay stuck on her. She did not need to use the bathroom or take a shower, which was strange.

She was glad that the time spent cleaning her house paid off. Things were working out in her everyday situation. Her father arranged a meeting between her, him and a number of other people who were to discuss her progress as a new lawyer. Her father suggested she read the novels of Louis Auchincloss for her education. She did so and enjoyed them but the novels were more about the inner lives of the characters than actual law practices. She figured he liked Louis Auchincloss’ literature and wanted to share that appreciation with her.

She became suddenly aware the moment was a dream but somehow, the list of people, except for one, were familiar acquaintances. Her friend from high school, Luke Marvin, would be there. Luke was bringing his brother, Peter, a man not as friendly and perhaps a bit dishonest, but had the ability to act cordial in a group gathering. There would be Peter’s friend, Spencer Tilden, and Oliver Bentley, rumored by Luke to be Spencer’s lover. Janet asked Peter if Luke was correct and Peter pretended not to hear the question. There was less certainty Walter Denton, her next door neighbor, would show up. If he did, perhaps Zachary Norman, her neighbor from across the street, would be there also. Walter liked to tell Zachary where he was going and Zachary, as a writer, wanted to tag along so he had reference notes for his novels. Walter was hoping to be a main character in a best-selling novel by Zachary. However, Zachary had no publishing contract. He had written ten novels that were typed neatly on paper, sitting on bookshelves.

Janet’s father, Steven, also mentioned a family, named of Goldman, who would be there. She recognized that name. Sherman Goldman left more than several million dollars to his children and grandchildren. Apparently, Sherman’s wife, Gerte, had owned a catering business back in the days of the depression in New York in the nineteen thirties. However, Gerte saved all her money and did not mention to anyone where she hid the secret stash. Sherman worked as a train operator at the Bay Area Rapid Transit Station in San Francisco, thinking he and his wife were merely working class level. However, when Gerte died, Sherman packed up all of her possessions, including her clothes. As he reached for something on the top shelf in the closet, his foot moved a loose board on the floor which revealed a lot of money underneath it.

Sherman was in his seventies when he found the money and felt he did not really need much of it. He took one thousand dollars from the pile and put the rest in a safe deposit box in a bank, for his family after he died. He was not fond of their careless behavior towards their weight and health but he did not want the money to go to strangers.

When her father showed up later that evening, he was accompanied by the Goldman family. Janet understood why Sherman Goldman was not fond of them. Harold was three hundred pounds and looked four hundred. He rode in an electric wheelchair that had scuff marks all over it. He was wearing a black suit and tie with white shirt, as if he came from a funeral, but his suit was dirty and wrinkled and smelled like mold. He made popping sounds with his mouth, causing spit to land on the floor. Janet wanted to make him leave immediately but her father held up his hand, gesturing for her to be patient.

Thelma Goldman was four hundred pounds and wore a dress that looked like it was originally a piece of wallpaper. She walked slowly like she was falling asleep but her clothes smelled good and she behaved well enough.

Christine Goldman was wearing a long and loose sweatshirt, with a picture of Burt Convy on the front, and sweatpants. She had a portable cassette player with her and she was wearing headphones. She nodded her head to the music and mouthed what seemed to be words to a song.

Rose Goldman wore a dress similar to Thelma’s. They must have shared the same wallpaper. Rose smiled as if she was happy to be there but something about that smile irritated Janet. Rose seemed to be too happy, as if she was rehearsing a part in a show and had to keep smiling while playing her role.

When John Goldman entered, she was surprised. He had none of the same characteristics as the rest of his family. Physically, his facial features proved he was related but he was slim and dressed well in a tucked in short sleeved blue polo top with black jeans and a black belt. Something about John reminded Janet of herself. She wanted to talk with him. She approached her father and asked, “Can we forget about the lawyer stuff? There is one person here I would like to talk to and that’s it.”

He nodded. “I know who you mean. Come here and tell Harold all about your trip to Turkey last year.”

Harold approached them. He asked, “How are both of you, tonight? I heard my name mentioned.”

“My daughter thinks we are a part of a committee to assess her lawyer skills. I’m afraid I put that idea across. What she doesn’t know is that I brought all of you here so she can get to know some of my best friends.”

Harold said, “Thanks, Steve. I’m sure that the money we gave you to handle our inheritance didn’t bias your opinion on us.”

Steve smiled. “There’s a time and place for money and a time and place for friendship.”

Harold nodded. “I think that way, too. The landlord of my building doesn’t agree. I’ve been five months overdue on my rent and I don’t intend to pay one damn cent.”

“Oh, my. That’s not a good thing to avoid. I’m surprised he hasn’t kicked you out, yet.”

“Really? How can that be?”

“People want money.”

“Well, okay. If he wants his rent, I guess I can pay him. I hadn’t thought of it.”

Janet could not believe what she was hearing. Of course, she was in a dream so the rules were not the same as reality but, if she remembered correctly, her encounter with Harold in waking life was not much better. She said, “There’s someone here I would like to meet.”

Steve nodded. “I totally understand. You want to meet Harold. Well, I have him here for you. I think he’s rather handsome. Is that so, big boy?”

Harold laughed. “Since we’re in the privacy of the house of someone other than me, I’ll admit that I do appreciate how I look from time to time. If I could make love to myself, I would.”

Steve said, “Speaking of something along the same topic, where would be Spencer and Oliver? I didn’t see them last weekend. Will they be around?”

“I’m not sure. I think so. We’re trying to convince Zachary to be a part of it. I think we’ll be able to convince him to be with us.”

“That will be great. I don’t know the man too well and I would like to correct that mistake. He says he isn’t… I think you know what I mean. He doesnt like men in that way.”

Harold shrugged. “I can change his mind. I have an old copy of an album by Joey Dee and the Peppermints. I can put that on and he’ll dance with me big time.”

“I would think that folk music would be better for seduction. Take all his clothes and put him in a loincloth. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

“Yes, but not if I am eating fried chicken. I don’t want to soil his clothes with my greasy hands.”

Janet thought the situation was going too far. Spencer Tilden, Oliver Bentley and Luke and Peter Marvin were not there, which was a good thing, considering the type of conversations she heard between her dad and Harold. Something seemed as if she was gaining information about who they really were. She said, “I don’t want to talk to Harold. I want to talk to someone else.”

Steve nodded and said, “Sure. Let me introduce you to Rose Goldman.”

“That’s not who I mean.”

“Oh, you can’t be serious. Rose is really great. Come on.” He grabbed her arm and brought her to Rose.

Janet said, “I want to talk to someone else.”

Rose nodded. “I can tell you like to eat spicy foods. That’s why you’re so irritable. Do you know the effects of black pepper? How about beef broth? Those ingredients will harm your soul.”

Janet sighed. “I guess, then, I’ll eat a lot of black pepper.”

“That’s the opposite of what you should do!”

Janet laughed. “Spices and herbs work as tonics. They are good for you. Your family is rumored to be very unhappy and I’m afraid you might be the cause of it. Your son must have escaped your deranged thinking.”

“It is true he does not listen to me and never will. He says black pepper is good for the brain capillaries and he writes stories when he puts pepper on his food. Why is he wasting time on imagination when he can deal with real life? I’m trying to hook him up with a girlfriend.”

“Do you know what type of woman he is looking for?”

Rose sighed. “From what I understand, you would fit the bill. He wants someone who lives in a nice neighborhood, wears her shirts tucked in, listens to jazz music, goes on walks to parks… all the stuff that makes people lazy. There are a lot of really eligible ladies who work in the discount grocery stores who think he’s attractive. They are overweight like me, which is a good thing. That’s one point of view in which I agree with Walter Denton. Overweight people are healthier than slim people. I don’t agree with him about eating food that’s tasty, though. To me, the tastiest food is the modest bite unencumbered with spices or flavorings. The perfect meal is a potato, either raw or boiled, and string beans, either cooked or uncooked.”

Immediately, Janet walked away from Rose. She could not stand to listen anymore to someone who seemed so much the reason for John’s empty life. Janet had not met John yet but she could tell that, though he was listening to Steve and Harold as if he enjoyed what they were saying, she sensed there was something blocking what should be. The moment should change so she and he were connected. She walked towards him and said, “Hello.”

John looked at her as if he could not believe what he saw. She was not sure why his surprise was so complete, even more so than hers, but she figured he was amazed at her outfit. However, she was merely wearing something in which she felt comfortable. She was no longer sure the time span had been a month. In her dream memory, she put the outfit on ten minutes previously and the party now had began only one minute ago. He did not say hello yet. He just stood still, transfixed.

Steve winked at Janet. He said, “We’ve been talking about how things are over in Ohio. It’s not the most pleasant place but they sure do have a lot of good candy stores to shop in. I went there last year and a fellow aimed his shotgun at me but I just asked if he knew where to get candy so he put his gun down and smiled. He told me he owned a candy store but nobody bought anything so he thought of closing it. I said I’d buy five hundred dollars worth of candy. He was happy. We walked across the street to his store and I bought a lot of stuff and said I would think about going to the store again if I had ever went back to Ohio. That man was delighted.”

Harold said, “You just sounded like Walter. Are you sure you’re not him?”

Steve said, “I wouldn’t mind having his money. He is richer than me.”

Janet knew how to lure John towards her. After taking a deep breath, she walked up the stairs, stopped halfway at the top, turned around and extended her hand. She looked directly at him. He was to come up, stand next to her and give her his hand.

John felt an odd impulse. He was not sure what to do until he noticed her up on the stairs, with her hand out. She looked serious. He walked, almost automatically, towards her. His steps were slow and methodical because the situation seemed planned by a higher level and he did not want to offend the way things were structured. When he was right next to her, he gave her his hand. She took it and held firmly, giving a few shakes and then just holding on. She did not say anything. John said, “Hello.”

She asked, “How are you?”

He said, “I am in a new state of mind. I don’t know what I mean by that. I just know what I know and this is it.”

She nodded. “You can have your own life, away from your family, if that is what you choose.”

He laughed. “It would be funny if you and I just stayed like this in handshake mode forever.”

“It can happen.”

He shrugged. “Well, I know it can spiritually happen between two people but I don’t know about really.”

She repeated, “It can happen.”

He widened his eyes. “Oh.”

She asked, “Would you like to sit down?”

“Sure.”

They sat on the stairs, still holding hands. She pointed at the guests. “Is that what you have to deal with all the time?”

He shrugged. “Yes, I suppose. But that’s what life is like. We have things we are dealt with and that is reality.”

She shook her head. “It does not have to be like that. It can be changed. Your uncle, for instance, used to work in a hospital. He was not slim but he is gaining more weight as we speak. Why is that? He met my next door neighbor, Walter Denton. Walter poisoned your uncle with thoughts of junk food and ideas that being overweight is healthy.”

“He wants to be thinner. But you’re right in that he has been acting funny since he met Walter. My mom was always overweight. Her mother, grandmother Gerte, owned a delicatessen and served a lot of pickled meats and sauteed vegetables and made the children eat that type of food everyday. My mom grew a disliking for it. She claimed she suffered from a nervous disorder until she eliminated spices from her life.”

Janet nodded. “I think the problem has more to do with her instead of the food she eats. However, I give you the opportunity to change your life.”

“How?”

“You can stay with me.”

“How can that be possible?”

“I’ll never let you go.”

John did not answer. He just sat still, taking in the offer for several minutes, until Janet woke up.