Brad’s Search : Part 53


The time has come—or, at the very least, it’s on its way. I get to work early Monday morning to talk with Eric about the project and our upcoming meeting with our client on Wednesday. The whole thing has my heart almost pounding its way out of my chest. Though I put in a lot of extra work over the weekend to get this thing right, the perfectionist in me wants to make sure nothing, absolutely nothing, will go wrong.

Eric and I also get a chance to talk about what’s happened with Paul and James. Things were so hectic last week that I never really got a chance to fill him in.

Eric sighs heavily. “Gosh, I feel great that the kids were found, but damn, what a thing to go through for James and the kids!”

“And they’re still going through it.”

“True. And probably will be for a while. Do you know how things are going over there? Or when James will be back?”

“I don’t really know much. He’s texted me here and there, but I imagine he’s had his hands full with the situation and getting to know Paul’s kids. He’s never even met them before. I have no idea when he plans to come back or even if Paul and the kids are going to come back with him.”

Eric sighs again. “Wow. Well, if he’s still in Michigan when this weekend rolls around and you have nothing better to do, you should come over and meet Lorna and have her make dinner. And if James does come back, he’s invited, too.”

“Oh, Eric, that’s so thoughtful of you.”

“It’s the least I can do. I know James has been through a lot, and I know you’ve been stressed out by that and by work. I know it can’t be easy.”

“Thanks, yes, it has been a bit hard at times.”

“Plus, after working on this project with you, I’ve come to really enjoy getting to know you. You remind me a little of my younger days when I was a little more carefree.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Lorna and our kids and I wouldn’t want to change a thing, but I see a person like you, successful in his career and moving up, with not so many other obligations. I was married and had my first kid pretty much right out of college, so I never really had time to enjoy my 20s.”

“But there must have been things about your life that made it worth it, right?”

Eric looks up at the ceiling and cracks a smile. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess it’s easier for us to be envious of the things others have and forget that there are good things in our lives, too, right?”

His assessment seems spot-on to me. “Sure.”

“Anyway, you up for coming over this weekend?”

“Yeah, that sounds like so much fun! I don’t think I have anything else going on.”

“Well, that’s great to hear. I know Lorna’s excited to meet you.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting her, as well.”

“Good, good. Well, we’ve got just a couple days before our client meeting, so let’s make this thing shine!”

“You got it!”

And with that, I get up and mentally close myself off to the world while I check, double-check, triple-check, and quadruple-check everything in our new system to make sure everything works for Wednesday.”

* * * * *

By the time I wrap up at work, it’s pitch black outside. I drive home and get ready for another solo night. It’s been almost a full week without having James by my side. Hell, it’s been almost a full week since I’ve really heard from him. When I get home, I give him a call.

He picks up. “Hey Brad! Hold on a sec, let me get somewhere quiet.”

“OK.” Sure enough, it’s pretty noisy wherever he is.

“Sorry about that. How’ve you been?”

“I’m good! How are things over there?”

“They’re great! I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch; things have been fucking chaotic over here.”

“I can imagine.”

“Yeah, but things are good! We got to the police station on Wednesday and Paul’s kids ran right up to him and gave him big hugs. They gave me really big hugs, too, which was a big relief. I didn’t even know what to expect, but they’re as nice as can be.”

“That’s awesome to hear! How old are they?”

“Sammy is eight, and Rachel is five.”

“Wow, they’re pretty young!”

“Yeah. I mean I knew how young they were before I met them, but it doesn’t really hit you until you meet them.”

“I guess.”

“Uh huh. Well, Sammy is really into science and math at school, and Rachel would be beginning first grade next school year.”

“Gosh, I can’t even remember when I was getting into first grade.”

“Yeah, me neither. Anyway, they’re awesome kids. And they’ve been calling me ‘Uncle Jim’ all the time. No one’s ever called me that before. It gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling.”

I chuckle. “That sounds so great to hear! Well, what are your guys’ plans?”

James sighs. “I really don’t know. We’ve just been focusing on his kids the past few days and making sure they’re OK. I’ve talked to him a couple times about where to go from here. I’m trying to convince him to move himself and the kids over to Seattle, but as you can imagine, he’d be practically uprooting everything. He’s just not sure it’s the right decision right now.”

“Yeah, that’s understandable. Still, that would be awesome if he came here and brought the kids.”

“I know. That’s why I’ve been trying to convince him so hard. I know I should be thinking about the kids first, and I am, but it would be so great for me and for Dad if he moved with the kids closer to home.”

“I agree.”

“Yeah. So, I really miss you! How have you been doing without me there?”

“I’ve been doing all right, I guess.” I dare not mention what happened over the weekend when I went out and partied. “We’ve got our big meeting with the client on Wednesday.”

“Oh yeah. Are you ready?”

“I fucking hope so. Taking a step back, I know I’ve checked everything and tried to break this thing in every way I know possible, but this thing is solid as a rock.”

“Well I’m not surprised, with a genius like you at the helm.”

I feel myself starting to blush. “Oh, I don’t know.”

“I’m serious, Brad. I see how hard you’ve been working on this thing. Even though I don’t have the slightest idea what the fuck you’re doing, I know you’re the best person for the job, and you’re dedicated as hell. Shit, I remember times you’d be up late at night working in the home office and I’d go to bed without you.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—“

“No, I totally get it! Dad was the same way when Paul and I were kids. Some nights he wouldn’t even come home because he had to work late at the office. It was tough for us as kids, and it took a bit of a toll on my mom, but he wouldn’t be where he was today without that dedication.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“It certainly is. Don’t feel bad for wanting to be successful in your career. Hell, you have a drive like no one I’ve seen before. You’re doing just fine; try not to worry about it so much.”

“OK, I’ll try not to. It’s hard, but I’ll try not to.”

“Good. You keep trying. Well, I better get going here. It’s getting late, plus I’m two hours ahead of you, so it’s extra late.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right. OK, I’ll let you know. I really miss you.”

“I miss you too, Brad. I’ll come home soon, I promise.”

“You better! OK, sweet dreams.”

“I’ll only be dreaming of you, babe.”

I feel myself blushing again. “Good night. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Good night.”

We hang up. I hop in the shower to wash all the stress from the day away. The hot water feels really good splashing against my naked body. After my shower, I crawl into bed and drift off to sleep.