Note from Jack: If you haven't already, I would LOVE for you to sign up for my weekly newsletter. It's the best way to track my progress with the Forever Saga, my publishing projects, and hopefully enjoy my random musings on whatever topic occupies my brain at the time. It can be totally anonymous - all you need is an email address.
Sign up today by visiting my website: www.jackschaeffer.com
I did as Sharon suggested and dragged myself to the restroom. I was the only one in there. It was clean, quiet and much needed. I stood at the mirror, looking at my haggard, shell-shocked face. I splashed some cold water on my face and neck, which helped. I wondered how much more could I take.
I returned to Sharon’s area since I did not know where else to go. I didn’t see Billy anywhere. He was probably driving someone else around now. Sharon came out of Clyde’s office as I walked up to her desk.
“How you doin’, Jack? Are you alright?”
“I think so. A little in shock, I guess, but I’ll be okay. It sure is a lot to take in.”
“I’m sure it is, baby. I’m sure it is.”
I wanted to say something, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. It had come up in me the second she told me what she had done for Amanda. I hesitated for a few seconds, but then went for it.
“Sharon...I, um...I want to thank you for what you did. For talking with Amanda and sitting with her, listening to her story. My story. And...for encouraging her to write me a letter.” I started to cry. I couldn’t help it. The tears just flowed down my face, the dam of emotions bursting under too much pressure.
Sharon flew around her desk, put her arms around me, and pulled me into a tight hug. I felt so safe and warm there, pulled up against her. I once again thought about what it would have been like to have her as my mother. That brought on another wave of tears. She held onto me, patting my back and making soft, comforting sounds, until I finally settled down. She released me from the hug but held my hands in hers, her eyes riveted on mine.
“Don’t you ever, ever be ashamed to cry, Jack Schaeffer. Sometimes it’s the only way we know we are human.” I noticed she had a few tears on her face as well.
We shared a Kleenex box and got ourselves put back together. Clyde stuck his head out of his office and asked if we would both come in.
All I can say about Clyde’s office is, if it had been mine, I would have never gotten any work done. The view of the city and the snowcapped mountains in the distance was breathtaking. He had the expected large desk with two guest chairs in front of it, plus a round table with four additional chairs off to the side. There were stacks of papers and folders all over his desk and the table, in direct contrast to Sharon’s very tidy and orderly work space.
“Jack,” Clyde said, “I know we have all had a bit of a shock, but we do still have some more we need to accomplish today. Do you think you are up to meeting Judge Bartells this afternoon? I think we are all agreed here that we have the correct Jack Schaeffer. Now we just need to let him meet you and satisfy his curiosity, if nothing else. What do you think, Jack?” Clyde smiled, eager for me to say yes.
I took a deep breath. “I think I can do that, Clyde. But I was planning on wearing a suit to meet with him, and that’s back at the hotel. And I’m getting kind of hungry. What time do we need to be there?” Sharon smiled, amused with my need for more food.
Clyde pinched his lips in thought. “Hmm...let’s see. Our meeting is scheduled for two o’clock this afternoon, during his usual trial recess. We can have Billy take you back to the hotel, you can get yourself changed and maybe grab a bite to eat. I apologize, but I have a Partners luncheon meeting I have to attend here. We’ll have Billy pick you up at one, then he can swing back by here to get me and we will head over to the courthouse. We can just make that work, I think.”
“Works for me,” I said. I wanted a change of scenery. I needed a little space between me and the events of the morning thus far.
“I’ll get Billy,” said Sharon as she departed Clyde’s office. I followed her out when Clyde’s phone rang. While Sharon was on the phone, letting Billy know he was needed, I paced back and forth, suddenly feeling like a caged animal.
I didn’t know what was happening to me. One minute I thought I was doing okay, the next I wanted to climb the walls. It seemed to come in waves. I knew one thing though–I was talked out for now. I just wanted to get back to the hotel, get something to eat and try to relax a little. So far, this trip was more of a journey of emotions than I had planned on.
Billy arrived within minutes—from where, I have no idea—and Sharon detailed the plans for the afternoon. He gave his mother a hug–she gives great hugs–and we said our goodbyes.
Following Billy was like following a bulldozer. People just sort of get out of his way, lest they be run over. I was glad to be behind him and not in front. Plus I liked looking at his tight ass—a perfect distraction.
In the parking garage, he opened the rear car door and I collapsed onto the seat and closed my eyes for a moment. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. As he drove down the ramp to street level, I caught Billy looking at me in the rearview mirror, concern etched across his brow, but he didn’t say anything. I was glad for the silence.
When we pulled up to the hotel, Billy jumped out and opened my door, engine still running. A bellboy sheepishly stepped backwards toward the curb. Nothing was said between them, but the bellboy must have figured out from Billy’s look he was in charge of this particular vehicle and all who rode in it.
I slid out and looked at Billy, and he smiled. A Billy smile. And I smiled back. His smile made me feel better instantly.
“Is there anything I can do for you, Jack? You got everything you need right now?”
“Yeah, Billy, I’m good. Thanks. I’ll meet you down here at one, right?”
“Sounds good, Jack. See you then. Hey, maybe you should try to get a nap. You look a little beat up.”
I laughed, giving him a little wave. He didn’t know the half of it.