Chapter 35. Familiar Face
They left the office and as soon as the door closed behind them, Barbara spoke first.
‟I don’t think that person was happy with you. She was quite upset about just filing the plan.”
‟She’ll recover.” Tom nodded. ‟Right now I have to call the exchange. Did you like the crew on the last flight?”
‟Yes, what was her name.” Barbara grumbled at her senior moment.”
‟YEAH! That’s her. Captain R. M. Watson.”
‟Good woman. She flew in Iraq and other places. Multiple ratings. I request her a lot, the company knows my account number and gives me a list on who is available. She is the only woman on their staff who is jet rated.”
‟They only have one woman on staff.
‟No, they have others, she is the only one rated for multi-engine jet.”
‟Oh.” Barbara laughed. ‟I was going to use another company if they didn’t hire women.”
‟Oh no. Lettie, my NorCal Limo owner is a major investor. I would doubt that they’d make a glass ceiling. Could happen, but if that woman found out? I’d run if I were them.”
‟OH! I know Lettie! She picked me up from when we hit the birds.”
‟Oh yes. That was a special favor, normally they don’t take limos off the pavement.” Tom smiled. ‟She is a rare one.”
‟She said you helped them get a start?”
‟Not precisely. I just keep them on retainer and speed dial.” Tom said. ‟I direct business their way. They only have a few cars and I think only four drivers. Lettie and her cousins.”
‟They have a post-grad psych major working for them. A guy named Kaikane.”
‟He is. You get points for paying attention.”
‟I don’t know Kaikane.”
‟He knows you.”
‟I get that a lot.”
‟You are likeable.”
‟I’m going to slap you.”
‟Promise? We won’t have the chance for a mile high fun time.”
‟Seriously. You need to relax on yourself, you need someone to keep you on your best, but keep you from being so dark. Your books will show that and if you are writing children’s stories, you need to keep them light.” Barbara looked at him evenly with the soul of a woman who would protect the one she cared for, even from himself. ‟You can write like no one I know. Probably as good as any of the great writers. Even like Joyce and Steinbeck or Hemmingway. But you don’t have to become Edgar Allan Poe to do it.”
“Tom, do not go back into that hole you locked yourself up into for a while.”
‟What makes you think I am going back into anything?” Tom smiled. ‟You have given me light and passion. We are ending a contract in a way that protects you. I am not emotionally broken-hearted, I could have invested in it, emotionally, if I had thought that you were sober and we spent some time together. Not baked, drunk and horny. I am fond of you, but that extends into friendship. I want you to stay, but not at the cost of a future.”
Barbara thought a minute as they waited for Lettie to show up with a limo. Tom’s speed dial rang her phone directly and he had told her of the situation.
‟You are the best man I know, next to my dad.”
‟I would like to meet him, someday.”
‟Are you kidding? He would die to meet you. Steam Land, if there is anything written by you on that series, he has it.”
‟Heh, I bet he is almost my age.”
‟I think you are older.”
‟Oh. Um. Yikes.” Tom laughed. ‟He might greet me with a shotgun.”
‟No, I think he’d be happy to have you in the family even if you banged his dog.”
‟Kidding.” Barbara laughed.
A dark limo wheeled in. It was Lettie.
‟Tom, Barbara, it seems like we just left you both in the Sea Dragon.” Lettie was all smiles.
‟We need a ride to the Executive Airport to the private entrance.”
‟Let’s go. Traffic is good, I can get you there in thirty minutes.”
‟I will pay you for two hours. The plane won’t be ready until then, take us to San Fran to drive through the park and down the beach.”
‟Hm. Tom, if I may suggest. From here? Let me take you to Half Moon Bay and then up along the coastal highway. We can pull in, then you and Barbara can walk on the sand.”
‟We…”Tom stopped for a moment as if something caught in his throat. ‟We are heading to Vegas to get an annulment.”
‟WHAT? Tom, Barbara.” Lettie caught herself and the professional woman came back to grips. ‟Sorry. But my opinion, she makes you smile. Barbara, for a girl who was so mad at him, you have a glorious soul that’s touched by Tom.”
Motioning the couple into her limo, Lettie wore a strained smile.
‟That is all I will say on the subject. I apologize. Not my place and I’d fire anyone who did what I just did.” Lettie said. ‟One trip through Golden Gate Park, back to Executive. Do you have your transport taken care of?”
‟Yes, thank you.” Tom smiled.
The door closed and Lettie moved to the front of the long vehicle.
‟What was that all about?” Barbara asked Tom.
‟Lettie is kind of protective. But she has a point. I can switch companies if it would make you feel better.”
‟No, actually, it makes me smile. Tom. Only someone special can evoke that kind of emotion in people, someone who people would stand up for. If I can come back and marry you?” Barbara’s eyes shined with tears. ‟I want to invite all your friends. From pilots, to writers, to limo drivers and everyone I can find that calls you by your first name.”
‟Um. That is everyone I meet. I insist to dispense with formality. I am no better than anyone.”
‟You are a great writer. Not many people can do that. PLUS!” Barbara raised her index finger. ‟You do more for the fire fighters with your fleet of water bombers.”
‟How did you know about that?”
‟I.” Barb bit her lip. ‟I looked on your history in your computer back at the Pacific Wizard.”
‟Ah. No. I was mad and curious and alone. You have internet on your computer at the Wizard and I logged into the guest accounts. Your name is all over the net.” Barbara said.
‟Ah. No problem. So you know about my firefighting air-force that some states won’t use.” Tom smiled. ‟It works in most states, California is a bit more… Picky.”
‟You have changed the subject on us. We need to have this understood.”
‟Well, technically, you changed the subject.”
‟Don’t change the changed subject.” Barbara laughed. ‟The point is, you deserve more happiness than you have. And we can do it together if you and I start on a proper friendship and wedding.”
‟Okay, I think we can do that. But you go take good and well care of Glenn. I’ll be your little secret.”
‟Little? Little would be if you were a janitor, you are a successful writer.”
‟Well, tell you what. We split the sheets on this and you decide that this accident was a good thing to happen. We’ll have that wedding for you.”
‟Not for me. For you. You need a party. My family and friends couldn’t fill four benches in a church combined. I tend towards the shy side.”
‟Shy? Like a hurricane. Let me see, weddings are for girls- generally speaking.” Tom smiled. ‟You have skills in karate…”
‟Yeah, that.” Tom smiled. ‟You like to lay naked on a beach, you are a bartender and you would not bow to a man with a knife. If I recall, you kicked the crap out of him.”
‟Heh! Yeah, I did.” Barbara laughed. ‟Felt good, too. He wanted to hurt me, and I was in the proper mood to return the favor.”
Tom laughed softly.
‟I would have not ever missed that show for anything. It was fun to watch, shocking, but fun to watch.” Tom said. ‟I might write about it someday.”
‟I would like to read that. Make me as an avenging angel.” Barbara smiled.
‟You can be sure. I would make you more than that.”
The limousine pulled into the park and drove around the green strip. Tom pointed out an archery range and the windmill as they drove by.
Talking excitedly with each other, two people enjoying their hearts and souls. Knowing that it would come to an all too soon end. They learned more about each other as Tom poured wine in glasses for the both of them.
Two people celebrating friendship and the strange path that brought them together.
‟Let’s go get unmarried, the plane will be ready, let’s go check in.”
‟Okay.” She said, looking down into the glass of her wine.
‟This has been very enjoyable, Tom. You make this more difficult by being so nice.”
‟You want to stay?”
‟Yes. And no. I want my chance with Glenn.”
Tom stopped the conversation and toned Lettie to drive them to the airport with the phone from the back of the limousine.
‟Time to go, thank you Lettie.”
They rode in silent stress to the airport, the atmosphere in the limo becoming darker and increasingly stressed.
‟It will be okay.” Tom said, holding Barbara’s hand.
‟Thank you.” She smiled, sadly.