“Mr. Hayes, you got a visitor,” the policeman said as he opened the cell. The bars of the jail cell clanged shut behind me. I was being given a rare privilege, admission to the actual cell block, primarily because I was on such good terms with the police department. I stood in the cell alone with my boyfriend, not that that was public information and not that he was much of a boyfriend.
He sat on the cot, shaking from the chills even though it wasn't cold. I knew those chills because this wasn't the first time I'd seen them. Those were the chills and shakes he got from the D.T.s. Soon he'd become violent and unmanageable while the drugs that were still in his system demanded more. Then he'd slowly sweat them out and almost become something like his normal self. For a while. Then he'd go back to his same crowd, the hippies that lived on campus and thrived on protest. I let out a sigh, a sigh of exasperation. This war was going to end up costing me both of the men I loved, and there was still no end in sight. There never would be, at least as the government envisioned it.
“I'm sorry JP. I know I let you down again. I can't look at you. I know that you hate me.” I didn't hate him, yet, but I was getting there. The last bender he'd gone on, he'd come back and we'd made love, beautiful love. And then a few days later I'd discovered that I had the clap and had to spend the next ten days on penicillin therapy. Fortunately I hadn't fucked anyone else in those three days before I figured it out.
“Yes, you did. And no, I don't hate you. But you are testing the bounds of my love for you.” That sounded ridiculous even to me.
“I'm so sorry. I'll be better now. I promise, I'll be better.” The first three or four times I'd heard this, I'd believed him. Not anymore.
“No Jeff, you won't be. The first thing you have to do is sober up, and you can't do that at home. Then you have to decide if you truly want to kick your drug habit. It's cost you almost everything. There are three little kids at home that are wondering where you are. Isidore and I are running out of reasons to explain why you're not there.”
He started sobbing. I recognized the pattern. I didn't have long. He stood up and hugged me. He reeked of vomit and urine and body odor. His beautiful hair had grown long, down below his shoulders, and he sported a dirty beard. His eyes were yellow, and his breath horrendous. Even his teeth had developed a yellowish tinge. I pulled away from him, revolted at what he'd become.
Just nine months ago he'd been the love of my life, and we'd been so happy together, or so I thought. Then he'd gotten involved in the anti-war protests, and the drugs that inevitably seemed to follow them. He was tall, 6'5, with huge muscles and a toned body from football, with clipped dark blond hair and a face that looked like Tony Dow. Now his body was still there, maybe a little less fit from a lack of exercise, but everything else about him, his kindness, his honor, his masculinity, and his sense of what a real man should be, all of those things were gone.
I rapped the door and they let me out. He tried to cling to me but I tore him away, biting back the tears that threatened to form. “Don't leave me here JP! Please don't leave me here!” I just shook my head. I had no choice. He wasn't safe at home. I had to think of Isidore and the children. I heard him screaming at me as I walked out of the jail, but I blocked out the words.
My lawyer met me outside and put his arm around my shoulder. I smiled at him. Aaron is a good guy. I’d known him for five years now, meeting him when I first moved to Chicago, and he had always been there, ready to drop everything for me. He steered me into the waiting area to a semi-private alcove.
“JP, the last time this happened he signed those papers giving you power of attorney. I've already presented them to the judge with a plan of rehabilitation. They won't agree unless he's formally committed.”
“What does that mean?” I queried.
“It means that he doesn't get out until you petition the court to release him, or until the institution discharges him.” In other words, he was going to the sanitarium. And I had to sign the papers to send him there.
“I don't want him going to the state hospital. I want him at a private hospital. No lobotomies, no shock therapy, none of that archaic shit they still use there.”
Aaron studied me carefully. “I can make that happen, but you'll have to pay all of his expenses. Plus he's got court costs and prior bills to pay off too. This isn't going to be cheap.”
I smiled at him. Money was the one thing I didn't have to worry about. “If I could solve this problem by throwing money at it, I would have done that a long time ago.”
I gave him the name of a hospital that I knew, one where I'd sent my former T.A. years ago. They'd done a good job with him. Maybe they'd save Jeff. Maybe.
I walked out to my car, a new Cadillac Eldorado. It had front wheel drive just like its cousin, the Oldsmobile Toronado, so the snowy Chicago roads were no match for it. I gunned the huge engine, 472 cubic inches of raw, gas sucking power, and headed home. There was no happiness to be found in these material baubles, I told myself cynically. There was no happiness to be found period. It just seemed to fly into my life long enough to tease me, then fly right out again leaving me more empty than before.
I turned on the radio to hear the latest news. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had resigned under pressure from President Johnson. McNamara advocated freezing the level of US troops in Vietnam at their current levels, while Johnson and his General, William Westmoreland, wanted more. Both of those hawks had gone public this very month, telling Americans that we were winning the war. They were wrong.
I had focused all of my research efforts on Vietnam, its history, and this war. I'd done it as a labor of love for Andre, the first man I'd ever been in love with, the first man that had ever returned that love. He'd been killed in the initial stages of this fucking war, in December of 1962, and ever since then I'd published paper after paper showing that this war was futile and unwinnable. That had gotten me the cold shoulder from the government, and I'd seen my grants dry up like a desert lake. I didn't care. I had my own money. I was immune to their fiscal pressure. Then they'd even tried to bully me, but that didn't work either, because I could hire good lawyers. Finally, the cacophony of voices against the war had become so vitriolic, they seemed to decide that my calm, academic arguments were harmless, and left me alone. Facts don't inspire revolutionary fervor, zealots do, and I was no zealot.
That was until earlier this year when I'd really pissed them off. I'd transferred $100,000 to Canada to fund a group I formed called “Exode”, started in honor of Andre. It was designed to help Americans fleeing from the draft get a decent start in Canada. Exode provided them with a small amount of cash, a place to stay, and job placement assistance. It dovetailed nicely with the pamphlet the Canadian Anti-War movement had generated: Manual for Draft Age Immigrants to Canada. The government had been livid, and had tried all kinds of machinations to bring me to trial for personally aiding and abetting these unpatriotic Americans who deserted their country. They found, though, that an aid organization was tough to vilify, and at the end of the summer, they'd left me alone again. I'm sure I had a thick FBI file, but I'd been lucky enough to dodge the bullet so far. How ironic that the crazy radicals on campus like Jeff and his buddies had probably been just the type of people who made me seem like small potatoes, yet I despised them.
December 6, 1967
More snow, more cold, more bullshit. That just seemed to be the way things were going. I hadn't been out to see Jeff yet, but I planned to do that tonight. The hospital had advised me to stay away, and only today had they acquiesced to my presence. In the meantime, I had worse problems to deal with. We had a faculty meeting today; I had an idea of what was on the agenda, and it wasn't pretty. We filed in, taking our preordained seats. After five years, I'd worked my way “up the table” and I smiled down at those more junior than me, watching their apprehension.
Dr. Peterson started the meeting. “It will probably come as no surprise to you that I am retiring as department chair and as an active member of this faculty. Northwestern University has been pleased to offer me emeritus status, an honor of which I am duly appreciative. I had planned to continue through the end of the school year, but I have personal issues that make it more appropriate for me to leave at the end of this semester.” The rookies at the lower end of the table seemed to take it at face value, but the rest of us knew what it really was. Peterson was being forced out.
“The University has selected Dr. Kellogg to serve as interim chair, pending a full and comprehensive search.” There was almost a groan from the members present, restrained only by Kellogg's bulky presence. “I'd just like to tell you all what a pleasure it's been working with you. I've seen many of you grow from young men into adults to be proud of. You will honor me by keeping in touch with me as I enjoy these golden years.” There were genuine tears from some, and I felt my eyes get watery although there was no way I was going to allow myself to cry. That was unacceptable, even though Peterson had been a mentor and defender of mine, and losing him was a catastrophe.
“Thank you Dr. Peterson,” said Kellogg, in his nasal voice. “I'm sure I'll get to know you all over the next few weeks. I want to explain my philosophies to you so there are no misunderstandings. Campuses around this country are flammable, just waiting for sparks to ignite them, whether it's over this continued battle for civil rights or protest against our action in Vietnam.” The examples he cited he'd said with a sneer, conveying his contempt for the movements and thoughts they provoked.
“I've spoken with the administration, and we've agreed that our department must do its best to refrain from adding fuel to the fire. We must avoid provoking the student body, and do everything we can to maintain peace and order to provide our students with a safe learning environment.” The irritation on the faculty members faces was plain, but they weren't the focus of his comments. Everyone knew there was only one person in this room who fit the rabble-rouser description he just defined: me. I said nothing and simply stared at him. Peterson looked worried. “Are there any questions?”
His tone indicated that he didn't want any questions. “I'd just like to raise an issue, if I may.” He looked at me with a challenging look, like I was going to wither under his gaze. Fat chance of that. “Certainly Dr. Crampton,” he said politely.
“I'd like to discuss taking a sabbatical next semester. Dr. Kellogg, this may be a more appropriate discussion for us to have privately, but I felt that since you are new here and my absence will no doubt directly affect those in this room, perhaps you wouldn't mind my raising the issue?”
He eyed me carefully. “You are up for tenure soon, and it's unusual to take a sabbatical before you reach that stage.”
“I understand that, but I've been invited to speak at quite a few universities next semester. I'll be at the Sorbonne in May, Stanford in April, and I've got an east coast series of appearances in February and March. It seems that my somewhat controversial papers have filled my dance card, as it were.”
The other members of the faculty congratulated me heartily, and the meeting devolved into discussions about my latest paper. Kellogg had lost control of the meeting and it had gone in a direction that he most certainly did not want. “Dr. Crampton, congratulations on your popularity. I'm sure we'll muddle through without you. Take your sabbatical, and we'll see you back here in the fall of 1968.”
“Thank you Dr. Kellogg,” I said, although based on my tone I might as well have said “fuck you” instead.
Dr. Peterson came to see me in my office as I was gathering my things. “Dr. Crampton, a moment?”
I smiled at him. Peterson is a good guy; he'd gone to bat for me so many times I'd lost count. “Of course sir,” I said.
“I don't see you thriving under Kellogg's regime,” he said candidly.
“I agree with you sir.”
“I'd like you to talk to Dr. Falstead at Stanford. He's a big fan of yours, and they have an opening. I think you'd do well out there.”
I stared at him, amazed. “You think I should leave Northwestern before I get tenure?”
“Dr. Crampton, you're no fool. Surely you realize that Dr. Kellogg was directing those comments to you? You won't get tenure here, and not because you don't deserve it. So there's no reason for you to spin your wheels where you're not appreciated.” That was a shock. I figured that I'd get tenure regardless, and that I'd just have to put up with administration bullshit as I went forward. I chided myself for being arrogant and short-sighted. I should have seen that coming.
“I'd have to move to California. I'm not sure how my wife would react to that.” I knew exactly how she'd react, but I didn't want to tell him that.
“Well, there are probably other options, but Stanford is your best bet right now. I'd contact Falstead. That's my advice.”
I shook his hand warmly. “Thank you Dr. Peterson. Thanks for everything.”
He smiled and nodded, then left my office, and the university.
The drive out to the hospital was long, the roads jammed with traffic. I pulled the joint out of my ashtray and lit it, taking a few puffs just to calm my nerves. Any more than that and I'd act like an idiot. The pot relaxed me, let me drive without stressing, and let me mull my situation over.
California. That was a huge shift. I'd felt like I pushed the limits of my umbilical cord when I moved to Chicago, and that was only 400 miles from my hometown of Claremont, Ohio. California, well, that was thousands of miles. I had been comfortable in a stuffy east coast academic environment. How would I react to the beach culture of California? Surely that pervaded all levels of society out there? Stanford is in Palo Alto, a big suburb by all accounts. I'd never even been there.
Isidore would shit a brick. She'd been working with my father's company, Crampton Construction, to help them penetrate the political machine in Chicago, and she'd done it brilliantly. The branch office here was one of the most profitable and productive in the whole corporation. No one but me really gave Isidore credit for achieving that. There were always men in charge ready to take the glory of the success. But I knew who was responsible.
That was another wrinkle. I owned 15% of Crampton Construction. The dividends alone from those shares put over $300,000 a year in my pocket. If Isidore and I moved west, that could adversely affect my income. All of those thoughts filled my mind, and before I knew it I'd arrived at the hospital.
The orderlies led me through the hospital to the high security area. When I'd visited Jason all those years ago, he'd been in a nice room with little or no supervision. Jeff hadn't made it there yet. I stopped outside the room to talk to the doctor.
“We've been trying to detox him, but it's been a long slow process. We've found traces of PCP, Heroin, and LSD in his system. He's been strung out for a while. Quite frankly Dr. Crampton, we're not sure if he'll be able to fully recover. He's little more than a zombie now, as if his brain is trying to figure out how to fire its neurons normally again.”
I looked at him through the one way mirror. He was lying on his back staring blankly at the ceiling. I felt a tear fall down my cheek and I quickly brushed it away.
“We'd like to recommend that we try shock therapy. We think that may bring him out of his fog.”
“Absolutely not,” I said firmly. “I will not allow him to be subjected to shock treatment, and if I find out that he has been, there will be hell to pay.”
“As you wish,” the doctor said, irritated beyond his capacity to hide it.
“I'm sorry doctor; I'm just not convinced that's an effective treatment. I must ask you to humor me.” That seemed to calm him a bit. He pushed the button and the door unlocked, allowing me in.
Jeff looked over and saw me, but his expression didn't change and he didn't move. I walked over and sat on the bed next to him and took his hand. He let me hold it, but he didn't respond. I just held his hand and stroked it. They'd cleaned him up, cut his hair, and he seemed more like his old self physically. His muscles had started to atrophy, but his magnificent body was still there. That wasn't the problem. The problem was with his mind.
I lay down next to him and cuddled up to his chest like I used to. I felt his hand move up and brush across my back. We laid there for what must have been an hour, and that's the only real reaction I got from him. I got up and leaned over, kissing his forehead. “I love you Jeff, I really do. I want you to get better and come home to us.” He looked at me, his violet eyes latching onto mine, but they seemed to be engulfed in a fog, in a haze. I left the hospital feeling even worse than I did when I left campus.
December 7, 1967
“I do not want to move JP! I have set down roots here, made friends. I have no desire to pick up and move to California!” Isidore was screaming at me, something highly unusual for her. We'd married to allow her to remain in the U.S. and avoid potential deportation back to France, and to allow me to adopt her oldest son, Ace. His real name is Andre Charles, after my first love, and his real father. She'd formed a marriage of convenience with me and by extension with Jeff.
“I do not have a position at Northwestern, for all intents and purposes. I have to go somewhere else, whether I want to or not.” To me it was all logic.
“What about my career? What about my work here?” She was still yelling, and I found that very annoying.
“There really is no reason for you to yell at me. I can understand you just fine when you speak in a normal tone of voice.” She glowered at me. “Your career involves buttering up politicians and hosting parties, and then when the deal is done, everyone else takes the credit. You're being used. This could be a fresh start for you too.”
“I do not want a fresh start, and I do not want to move.”
“Will you at least go out to California with me and see what it's like? If nothing else, it will be a nice break from this shitty weather.” I smiled at her, trying to turn on the charm.
She sighed. “Alright, after the New Year I will go out with you and see this place. But it will not change my mind.”
“Thanks Isidore,” I said, and kissed her on the cheek. I headed into the rec room to see the kids. Ace was the first to rush over and see me. He was just like his father, dark hair, and tall for his age, and with an energy and joy of life that was one of Andre's most cherished qualities. “Daddy!” he yelled, and gave me a big hug. I felt all of my sadness evaporate.
Over in the corner, the twins were arguing over a toy. I went over and broke up their squabble. They both hugged me as well, and I sat on the floor with the three of them just goofing around. The twins, Claire and Billy, had been born in 1964. Isidore had a tough pregnancy which had cost her the ability to have any more children. Billy was a very active, physical boy. It was obvious that Jeff was his father, with his dark blond hair and the adorably cute looks, not to mention his obsession with sports. Footballs, baseballs, tennis balls, and even hockey pucks, those were his favorite toys.
Claire was a total Daddy's girl, and she had me wrapped around her finger. It was my genes that were part of her. She had my thick blond hair, and my light green eyes. I'd always had a pretty face, a Ricky Nelson kind of look that would have been incredible if it wasn't attached to a scrawny short body. But with Claire, she was already a gorgeous child, and she'd be a real looker when she got older.
“Uncle Stefan!” Claire screamed, and fled over to Stefan. He was technically her cousin, but that didn't seem to matter. I looked up and smiled at Stefan. He'd been so absorbed in his studies I hadn't really seen him much. The two of us played with the kids until it was time for me to head to campus.
“JP, can you give me a ride to the El?” Stefan asked.
“Of course, the heater won't work until long after I drop you off,” I said.
“Still, it is better than the wind,” he joked as we got on the elevator. “Can I come up and see you tonight?”
“Sure Stefan. I missed you. We've both been so busy.”
“I know. But I was wondering if maybe I could spend the night?” Stefan turned his handsome face, long, with a strong French nose, topped with pretty Strawberry blond hair towards me and tilted it provocatively.
“That would be nice,” I said, and he kissed me quickly before the doors opened. I dropped him off at the train station and found myself looking forward to that evening.
Stefan came up that evening and played with the kids for a while. They adored him. He was just a big kid himself. I watched him with them and couldn't help but admire his sexy demeanor. Stefan was the illegitimate son of my cousin Steve who was killed in World War II. Stefan had been raised by his mother in the Paris slums, and had come to the U.S. some six years ago to land right in the lap of luxury. His grandparents are wealthy, one of the three richest families in Claremont, and he'd had a tough time adapting to it. When he'd gotten here, we'd had an intense romantic fling, but that had evolved into a rock solid friendship with benefits. Now, though, he was a handsome, charming young man of 23, full of life and energy. He moved like a cat, even his walk was sexy. He was the kind of guy that even straight men would think about fucking. He is the ultimate sexual being.
I kissed the kids goodnight and headed to the shower. I was feeling grimy after the long day, and I wanted to freshen up for Stefan. The warm water flowed over me, relaxing and soothing me, when I heard the shower door open and looked up to see Stefan come in and join me, his cock already at its fully hard seven inches.
“You seem happy to see me?” I teased.
He walked up to me and grabbed my own hardening cock. “And you are not happy to see me?” His lips met mine, and he molded his body into me. He turned around and pressed his ass against me, begging me to fuck him. I reached around and rubbed my soap-covered hands across his chest, flicking his nipples, and then moved down and stroked his hard cock.
“You want me to fuck you?” I taunted, moving my head against his hole and then pulling back, then pushing in a bit, then pulling out again.
“Fuck me now JP!” he said, and I smiled at him as I drove my dick into his ass. Stefan is a pro, and had supplemented his income as a child in Paris by selling his body. He knew exactly how to move his body to maximize the pleasure of the guy he was with, and his own at the same time. He is an amazing lover.
As I pumped into him I realized that it had been a long time since I'd gotten laid. The feeling, the intensity was overwhelming, and I exploded inside of Stefan well before I wanted. That didn't faze him at all. When I started shooting he stroked himself to orgasm, and finished only slightly after I started. He turned around and kissed me.
“Stefan, you are an amazing lover.” He smiled at me, appreciating the ego stroke I'd given him.
“I am only this good when I have such a good partner.” I smacked him playfully for being full of shit, and we dried off and headed to bed.
We lay there, with him on top of me and his head on my chest. I thought about all the times I'd done this with Jeff, and how good that had felt. I found that I didn't miss him as much as I used to, and I wasn't sure if that was good or bad.
“So you are graduating early?” I asked
“Yes, although I don't know why. I don't have any plans after I'm done.” Stefan had tried dating various guys throughout college, but he always seemed to get bored and move on. He'd left a string of broken hearts, including my former T.A., Tom, in his wake. In the end, he'd gone for hookups to sate his sexual desires and put all his extra energy into finishing up his degree.
“Why don't you be my groupie and keep me company?” I offered.
“What are you talking about?” I told him about my job at Northwestern being basically over, and how I was going to be traveling around doing a bunch of speaking engagements. “So you want me to just hang out with you and travel around?” he asked.
“Yeah.” I said. “You can molest college students around the country.”
“That sounds like a lot of fun! Unless a better offer comes up.”
“Better offer?” I chided him. “Who could be better than me?”
“No one I can think of,” he said as he rolled me over, lubed me up, and gently entered me.
December 20, 1967
My last semester at Northwestern was over, and it was a sad occasion. Since I was officially on sabbatical, there was no official end, and technically I could come back next fall. Everyone knew that wasn't going to happen. I'd talked to Dr. Falstead and told him what was going on and he was very encouraging. He asked me to come out with Isidore in January to meet with him. I got the distinct impression that he wanted me there, and he wanted me there badly. He'd even alluded to a fast track tenure process, and Peterson advised me to try and work that into my employment contract. Still, Isidore wasn't convinced. That wouldn't be a quick battle; it would be a long campaign.
It had been two weeks since I'd gone out to see Jeff, and since we were leaving for Claremont tomorrow, I felt compelled to fight the traffic out to the hospital. The same doctor met me and walked me to the same area.
“He hasn't really changed much since you were here last. He seems a little more alert, and I think we're finally getting the narcotics out of his system. We've had to sedate him pretty heavily though.” He saw me start to protest. “It was for his own safety. He was violent, and tried to hurt himself. He has directed all of his anger at himself.”
“So what do you recommend?” I asked, bracing myself for the shock therapy argument again.
“Well, I know you're opposed to shock therapy, so I'm going to suggest we try some drug therapy. I'd like to try Imipramine, it's an anti-depressant. We may have to mix it with some anti-psychotics, but I think if we manage it carefully we can start to bring him out of his funk.” I didn't think funk was a medical term, and that almost made me giggle.
“I appreciate you looking for alternatives. You have my permission to try your new strategy.”
He smiled, finally winning some concession from me. I understood where he was coming from. He wanted to help Jeff but I had his hands tied. “Once he comes out of his zombie mode, I'll start him on counseling.”
“Thanks doctor,” I said, shaking his hand warmly. He buzzed me into Jeff's room.
Jeff was much more alert than last time. I walked over to his bed and lay down next to him and kissed him on the cheek. He turned his head to look at me and our eyes met. I built walls around myself to keep people from knowing the real me, the person inside, and more importantly, to keep them from seeing my emotions. Jeff had the unique ability to pierce right through those walls, and we'd learned to communicate without saying anything. That's what happened now, and it was very disturbing.
I knew that he felt guilty for everything, that he blamed himself, but I didn't know how much he hated himself. And he really did. He craved drugs, craved them like, well, like Stefan craves sex. I could feel it in his eyes. He was begging me for a fix. With all of his heart, he wanted to escape back into his drug-induced fog. Back where he couldn't feel the pain, and he didn't care about anything.
“No baby,” I cooed into his ear as I brushed my hand across his face. “I love you, more than anything except our kids, and I want you back the way you were. No more drugs. No more rallies. No more protests. I want you back.”
He said nothing and just shook his head “no”.
“Don't you love me? You don't want me?” His eyes got alarmed. I smiled at him. “See, you do. Do you love me enough to leave the drugs behind?” I saw the struggle on his face and my heart went out to him. He wanted both, and he couldn't choose. If he had to, though, I knew that right now he'd pick the narcotics.
“Jeff, I want you back. Period. And I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen. Now, you can fight it, but you know I don't lose.” His eyes smiled at me and I kissed him gently on the lips. I felt them quiver slightly in response.
I lay on my back and he rolled over on top of me, his head on my chest. I felt the tears wetting my shirt, and I just stroked his hair and his back like I'd done so many times before. I periodically kissed his head, and told him over and over how much I loved him. Then finally the doctor came in and told me I'd been there for four hours, and they needed to give him his medicine for the night. He clung to me like a drowning man clings to a life raft, but I pried myself away and promised to come see him as soon as I could.
I made it out of the hospital and into the Eldorado before I broke down in tears. Crying was OK, as long as no one else saw me do it.
December 22, 1967
Traveling to Claremont used to be so much easier. In the past, I just jumped in the car and left. Not anymore. Now we had to pack up Isidore's monstrously huge Cadillac Fleetwood with all the crap three little kids would need, not to mention Betty and Isidore. I learned a long time ago to travel light. The Fleetwood was the stretch model, damn near a limousine, so the kids spent most of their time playing on the floor with Betty. Or crying. Or fighting. Or deciding they had to stop to go to the bathroom. Stefan opted to drive himself, the little shit, so he got to avoid all of the tumult.
“So I was thinking about this California thing,” I said to Isidore, raising the issue that was sure to piss her off.
“Oh, and what were you thinking?” she said caustically.
“I'm thinking that maybe if we did move you could actually set up your own office of Crampton, or if they won't go for it, your own firm where you could make the decisions and get the credit.”
She looked at me, perplexed. “I am not capable of running a branch all by myself!”
“Bullshit,” I said, and got a dirty look from Betty.
“Daddy said a bad word,” chimed Ace. I ignored them.
“You are the one who drives that office. If you were a man you'd have been in charge a long time ago.”
“You think too highly of me JP.” I could tell she was flattered.
“I do not. I know you and your capabilities, and if my father and brother won't back you, I'd be willing to put my own money behind you.”
She smiled at me. “You are very persuasive, you know that don't you?” I returned her smile. I loved Isidore, I really did. The thought of her not being with me, or backing me up on a move was just impossible.
“You mind if I broach the issue with my father?”
“Go ahead,” she said. “I trust you completely. I know you'll look out for me.”
“California?!” chimed Betty from the back. “They got earthquakes there, that whole state is gonna fall into the ocean.”
“Yeah, but they have warm winters.” She seemed to ponder that, weighing certain death by being sucked into the Pacific against the fucking cold Chicago winters.
So we lumbered along, and with all our stops it took us over 9 hours to make the trip. There were distinct advantages to being a carefree bachelor. By the time we got there we were so tired all we could do was say “hello” and head off to bed.