Brad’s Search : Part 18


Eric and I sit in our company’s conference room. We’ve been having a video conference call with our client. They are a lesser-known casino based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and they think an overhaul of their technology will boost their customer base and profits. They want us to build an all-in-one customer relations management system that also handles their players’ club, hotel reservations, and dining reservations. We don’t know if that will actually help them increase their profits - that’s not our area of expertise - but we sure as hell can build what they want.

Eric closes the call with the client. “I think that’s all the information we need right now. If you think of anything else, feel free to call anytime.” Eric then terminates the call.

“So, how long do you think something like this will take?”

Eric takes a deep breath and thinks for a few seconds. “Our company has never worked on something quite this big before. It’s hard to tell, but they need it in three months, so we’re gonna do it in three months.”

“Wow. Way to put the pressure on.”

Eric laughs. “Sometimes we work best under pressure. Going forward, though, I think it would be a good idea if we stick together as co-managers for this team.”

“You think that’s a good idea with all of your other projects?”

“Sure; I can handle it. I’ll stick close by on this project with you to make sure everything goes smoothly. Trust me, I wouldn’t want to be alone on this project either.”

“Thanks, Eric.”

“No problem. Well, mister, you have a date to get ready for. I won’t keep you any longer.”

“OK. I’ll let you know how it goes.”

“Later, mister.”

* * * * *

I rush home and head inside. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a date - a date that I’m actually excited about, that is. I head to the bedroom and dress up just as James instructed.

My phone buzzes. I check it, and it’s a text from Gary: Good luck on your date tonight! I text back: Thanks! I hope I don’t screw this one up, too. A few seconds later, Gary texts back: Don’t worry. You won’t.

I hear a car pull up on the street. I look outside of my window and see it’s James. He steps out and starts to walk up to the door. Damn, he looks sexy. He reaches the door and rings the bell.

I open the door.

“Good evening, Mr Palovich. Care to join me for dinner?”

I snort. “What’s with the manners? What happened to the James I knew before who was cursing up a storm left and right?”

“I don’t know - I’ve always wanted to open a date like that. There can be something really sexy about a polite gentleman.”

I step outside and lock the door. “Oh, don’t get me wrong; it was sexy. I was just worried you became a Puritan on the way here.”

He laughs pretty loudly. “Fuck no.”

“Now that’s the James I recognize.”

He reaches his hand out to me and I take it. We walk to his car and he opens the door for me. I thank him as I sit inside. He gets in the driver’s seat, fires up the car, and we’re off.

“So, where are we going?”

“Only the best restaurant in the whole world - in my humble opinion, that is.”

We head south on Aurora Ave and turn onto Roy St. We make a few more turns, and then we turn into the parking lot of a restaurant called The Melting Pot.

“Here we are!”

We get out and enter the restaurant. James walks up to the host. “Good evening. I have a reservation under Briscoe.”

“Sure; right this way.”

James and I follow the host to our table. We sit and take a look over the menus, and I notice an electric burner in the middle of the table. “Oh, it’s a fondue restaurant.”

“Yep. It’s an interesting concept for a restaurant, but it works really well. You’ll see.”

Our server approaches our table. “Good evening, gentleman. My name is Steve, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Have you ever been to The Melting Pot before?”

James speaks up. “I have a few times, but it’s his first time.”

“Well, I’m glad you chose to come here. May I get you something to drink?”

I quickly glance at the drink menu, and then turn to the server. “What’s this Yin & Yang like?”

“It’s made with white chocolate liqueur and vodka, mixed with some ice cream, and topped with chocolate shavings.”

I look at James. He says to me, with the most serious expression, “It’s like an orgasm in your mouth.” I look back at the server, who just nods and smiles.

“I guess I’ll get that, then.”

The server winks at me. “Good choice.” He turns to James. “And for you, sir?”

“An orgasm sounds really good right about now. I’ll get one too, Steve.”

“Excellent. I’ll give you a chance to look over the menu and I’ll be right back.” Our server walks away.

“So what do you usually get here?”

“I spring for the four course - cheese, salad, entrée, and dessert.”

“Oh, God, that sounds like a lot!”

“You watching your figure? Because you totally don’t need to, Mister Sexy.”

* * * * *

Four courses and two Yin & Yang martinis each later, our check arrives.

“I’ve got it.”

“James, you don’t have to.”

“Nonsense. Plus, I need some way to guarantee a second date. You can cover the next dinner.” He slips some cash into the folder. He looks up at me and smiles, and I give him a smirk.

“Fair enough. Thanks, James.”

We both get up and head for the exit.

I grab James’s arm. “So, where to now? Somewhere around the city?”

“Nooo. Not yet, anyway. Let’s wait for these drinks to wear off.”

We step outside and see the top of the Space Needle peeking over the buildings across the street. James looks at me. “You thinking what I’m thinking?”

I nod. “Let’s go.”

We walk the few blocks to the Space Needle, purchase tickets, and head up the elevator. The staff member rattles off a few facts about the Space Needle and surrounding area that I knew and no doubt James also knew, simply because we had lived here and ridden to the top so many times already. The elevator reaches the top and we step off and head outside.

Wow! It’s certainly a bit nippy when you’re 520 feet up in the air on a December night. I cross my arms to keep warm. James takes off his jacket and wraps it around my shoulders, then wraps his arm around me. I look at him. “Do you bring all your dates here?”

“Only the really cute ones.”

I chuckle. “So, tell me more about your dad’s law firm.”

“Oh, boy. Let’s see… He was going to law school when I was about 4 or 5. He bounced around a few different law firms. He had huge ambitions; he wanted to work on cases much larger than his firms could handle. Eventually another attorney here took him under his wing and they opened up a firm together. They became Reynolds and Briscoe.”

“So who’s Feldman?”

“You’re getting ahead of me.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Don’t be; it’s OK. Anyway, I was going to college when Feldman showed up. Remember how I said my dad had huge ambitions?”

“Yeah.”

“Well I mean huge. Like, Erin Brockovich huge. He got involved in a case so big that the firm sought out another attorney, who turned out to be Marcus Feldman. Dad even asked me right after my junior year of college to take a year off and help with the case. One year turned into another, and that year turned into another...”

“Did you ever go back and finish?”

“Not yet, but I still plan to. At any rate, that case is now over - has been for a few years - but Dad keeps taking on more and more. He’s great at what he does - he’s just a bit of a workaholic. So the Reynolds guy retired after that big case, and now we’re known as Briscoe and Feldman.”

“Wow. That’s quite the history lesson.”

“Sure is. How about you give me yours?”

“Well, I’m now a project manager for a technology company. Got promoted about a week ago.”

“Congratulations!”

“Thanks.”

“So what do you do as a project manager?”

“We were contacted by this casino in Vegas. They want us to build them this huge system that interconnects all the various aspects of their business.”

“Seems complicated.”

“It’s not too bad. It’s the reason I was promoted though. I’m working with another coworker who’s been a project manager for a while, and we start on everything right after the New Year.”

“Sounds almost like what happened with my dad and the Reynolds guy. Except with computers.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Speaking of which, what does your dad do? I don’t remember you mentioning him when you told me about the weekend your mom came to visit.”

“He’s, er, passed away.”

James tilts his head to the side and pulls me in closer. I continue, “He died about five years ago. He was in the Air Force - flew helicopters.”

There are a few seconds of silence. James continues, “I’d like to hear more about what he did. Perhaps some other time.”

“Sure.”

“Well your mom sounds pretty awesome from what you told me Friday night. I’d love to have the chance to meet her.”

“Were your parents accepting of you when you came out?”

“Not at first. Surprising, I know, especially for parents who grew up and live in the Pacific Northwest. But they eventually came around.”

“That’s good that they eventually did, though.”

A big gust of wind suddenly blows. I shiver, and James rubs my back and torso vigorously to keep me warm. “Come on; let’s head inside. Don’t want you turning into a rainbow popsicle.”

We head inside and down the elevator. We make our way to James’s car.

He turns to me as we walk. “Do you have any plans for New Year’s?”

“Not at the moment. If I was still talking to Kelly, I would probably be spending it with her. But I’d much rather spend it with you, if you’re up for it, that is.”

“Of course I’m up for it. I was planning to catch the fireworks at the Space Needle. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate, or a better person to celebrate with.”

“Oh, come now, James.”

“I mean it. I’m being honest here. You’re so unashamedly yourself. You have no problem being out in the open and saying, ‘This is who I am. Take it or leave it.’ I admire that.”

“I’m just glad you haven’t run away yet.”

“I wouldn’t. Finding someone like you is pretty rare.”

We reach his car and get inside. We head back to my place, and he pulls up along the curb when we arrive.

“Well, James, thank you so much for an amazing night.”

“No, Brad, I have you to thank. It’s been a while since I had a good time like I had tonight. And I’m looking forward to New Year’s with you.”

“Same here.”

I reach across and give him a hug, and he gives me a kiss on my cheek.

“Take care, Brad.”

“You too.”

I step out, walk to my door, and unlock it. I look back and wave goodbye. James waves back and drives off.