Chris and Richard’s Serendipitous Romance

Chapter 2

The following morning, the first light of daybreak slowly transformed the easterly deep indigo night skies into brilliant orange. An extra chill in the air caused me to want to remain in the warm comfort of my bed, delaying the start of my day. Nevertheless, there was work to be done. Chester, the ranch owner’s border collie, scratched my bedroom door twice and barked, letting me know it was time to rise and shine. Reluctantly I exited my bed to start the daily chores and projects.

I could hear Chester outside my bedroom door, panting and waiting for assurance I was awake and out of bed. “I’m up, Chester, thank you.” Satisfied he had accomplished his job, Chester padded away.

I stepped out of my bedroom into the hall and caught the aroma of fresh coffee emanating from the kitchen. The morning chores included putting new siding on the old tool shed.

Around noon, Earl and I drove in the final nail, securing the last siding board when Hank called out to me from the house to let me know I had a phone call. Earl said he would clean up the tools and told me to go get my phone call. I rushed to the house to answer the phone.

“Hello, this is Chris.”

I immediately recognized Richard’s beautiful voice. “Is this THE Chris, that amazing man who I spent the evening with last night?”

I giggled. “Yes, is this THE Richard, that incredible man who gave me the most wonderful night I’ve ever had?”

Richard laughed. “Yes, it is he. I wanted to thank you for dining with me last night and to let you know how much I enjoyed the entire evening.”

I beamed from ear to ear. “Thank you for the delicious dinner, the star-filled sky, a romantic evening, and the perfect songs on ‘West of Midnight’”.

I could hear Richard’s smile as he talked in the phone. “All were my pleasure. I’m glad you enjoyed those as much as I did. Chris, the reason I’m calling is to invite you to have dinner and to see a play tonight.”

“That sounds wonderful, Richard. I would like that, but wouldn’t Lawrence be jealous?”

Richard paused. “I’ve put up with Lawrence for too long already. I don’t need people like him in my life. I would like to get to know you better though.”

My heart panged and I felt breathless. “Richard, I would like that very much.”

Richard sounded joyous. “I was hoping you would.”

I could hardly stand still with excitement. “What time is dinner and where?”

“The play is in Carson City. If you like, I could pick you up at the ranch and we could have dinner before the play. Do you like Mexican food?”

“I love Mexican food.”

“Great we can eat at La Casa Bonita, since it’s near the theater. May I pick you up around 5:30?”

“That would be perfect. I’ll be ready.”

I gave Richard the address and directions to the ranch, hung up and shouted a big “YES!" I spent the next thirty minutes deciding what to wear on tonight’s dinner date. I chose a charcoal blazer over a white button up shirt, boot cut jeans and black loafers. Richard drove his Oldsmobile Cutlass down the driveway to the ranch house precisely at 5:30. I smiled, thinking how good it was to know a man who is on time. I eagerly took the passenger seat and we were off.

We arrived at La Casa Bonita before the 6:00 o’clock dinner rush.

The host greeted us. “Señor Richard, bienvenido. It is a pleasure to see you again.

Richard smiled and shook the hosts hand. “Hola, Esteban, it is good to see you again, too. I hope you are doing well.”

“I am doing very well, gracias. And who do we have here?”

With a welcoming smile, Esteban reached for my hand. “Hola, señor, my name is Esteban.”

I smiled and shook his hand. “Hola, Esteban, I’m Chris. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“El gusto es mío, Señor Chris. Señor Richard, I trust the two of you would like to be served by Fernando this evening, si?”

"If he has a table available we would very much like to have Fernando as our waiter tonight.”

Esteban took two menus from the host desk and requested us to follow him. He led us to a table near the back of the dining room under a clay tile-patio style roof, across the aisle from a lovely atrium with flowing water and tropical plants. As we sat, I looked around the room and noticed the lavish décor including the original paintings by Mexican artistas.

Fernando saw Richard and me, smiled and greeted us. “Hola, Señior Richard. Como estas esta noche?”

Richard shook Fernando’s hand. “We’re doing very well, thank you. Y tu?”

Fernando had a big smile. “With my favorite customer at my table, how can I be anything else but wonderful?”

Richard introduced us. “Chris, this is Fernando, the most charming waiter in Carson City. Fernando, this delightful man is my new friend, Chris.”

Wearing a huge smile, Fernando shook my hand. “Señior Chris, it is a pleasure to meet you. Any friend of Richard’s is a friend of mine. Señiors, while you are looking over the menu what may I bring you to drink?”

Richard and I both ordered frozen margaritas. We had finished looking over the menu when Fernando returned with our margaritas. He took our food order, thanked us and dashed to the kitchen.

Richard picked his glass up and proposed another toast. “To another fabulous dinner and to hope for a beautiful friendship.”

We clinked our glasses and sipped our margaritas. I’d never had such a delicious margarita. Richard explained it was a “top shelf” margarita, made with the finest ingredients.

While we waited for our food we sipped our margaritas, snacked on chips and salsa, and got to know each other more.

“Do you have any family in the area?”

Richard shook his head. “I only have an estranged brother who is married, has a seven-year old boy and lives in Eastern Nevada. When his God-fearing wife found out I am gay she forbade my brother to have any contact with me. I’ve never met his boy, my nephew.”

Fernando, carrying a large tray supporting our meals, approached our table. After presenting our food and refilling our water glasses, he asked if he might get us anything else. We assured him we were fine and he left us to dine on the best Mexican food in Carson City. We enjoyed getting to know each other better as we finished the delicious meal. The more about Richard I learned, the more I became enchanted. We declined Fernando’s offer of dessert, as we noticed it was time to go to the theater. Richard paid the bill along with a generous tip. We said our goodnights to Fernando and Esteban, thanking them both, and drove to the theater.

We entered the theater and found our seats, near the center towards the front. The theater was sold out that night. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed, the curtain opened and the play began. The local theater company, The Stage Right Players, performed “Steel Magnolias” flawlessly. We laughed and cried throughout the 2-hour long production. The play ended to a thunderous standing ovation. On the drive back to the ranch we held hands and sang while listening to “You are Everything”, by The Stylistics, playing on the radio. Richard pulled into the driveway of the ranch and parked the car in front of the ranch house.

He shut off the engine and turned to me. “Chris, thank you for coming with me. I had a wonderful time and you made this night special. “

I looked into his eyes. “Thank you for another amazing evening, Richard. This is one more I’ll remember forever.”

We agreed to talk on the phone the next day, kissed each other intimately, and said our goodnights.

I awoke early the next morning, showered, ate a quick breakfast and joined Earl and Hank in the stables. We saddled up our horses and rode into the foothills on the far west side of the ranch where we found about 50 head of sheep grazing.

Earl looked over the flock of sheep. “See the red tags on their ears? Those sheep are from the Wells Ranch. Let’s drive them over to the north, where they came from. I reckon we’ll find a downed fence on that side.”

The three of us managed to herd the sheep to the north fence. Sure enough, the sheep jumped over a section of fence that was down, back to where they belonged. Hank dismounted, grabbed a hammer and post nails from his saddlebag. Earl and I dismounted and the three of us mended the fence, preventing the sheep from crossing over to our ranch again. We rode east along the fence line looking for other breaches but found none and returned to the ranch house in the early evening.

Earl, Hank and I had missed lunch, so we made a quick early dinner consisting of a turkey sandwich and chips. As we were washing the last of the lunch plates the phone rang. It was Richard.

I recognized the number on the caller I.D. and answered. “Hello, handsome. Did you sleep well last night?”

Richard answered. “I slept like a baby as I dreamed of you last night.”

“Really? Funny, I dreamed of you last night as well.”

Richard snickered. “How is your day going?”

I told Richard about herding sheep and mending the fence and then asked how his day was.

Richard took a deep breath. “Well, it’s been an interesting morning. I had unexpected visitors a few hours ago. First thing this morning the doorbell rang. It was a caseworker from Child Protective Services and my seven-year old nephew, Steven. I invited them in and the caseworker informed me my brother and his wife were killed in Thailand on a business trip, when an overloaded ferryboat they were on rolled over and sank. They had left Steven with a schoolmate’s family while overseas. Because I’m Steven’s only living relative, he was turned over to me for custody.”

My mouth dropped. “That’s horrible about the accident. I’m so sorry, Richard. How are you and Steven dealing with the news?”

“I’m doing alright. As I said the other night, I wasn’t that close to my brother and his wife. When they found out I was gay, they told me I was no longer welcome in their home. I’m more concerned about Steven though. He’s been quiet and I’m sure he’s frightened, confused and in shock over the whole thing. I’m doing my best to be there for him and make him feel welcome and comfortable.”

That didn’t surprise me, given Richard’s caring and giving personality. “You’re a good man, Richard. I’m sure you’ll do your best with him and he will know it.”

“Chris, Steven arrived with only a small backpack and one change of clothes. I asked him where the rest of his things were. He said everything he owned was in his backpack. I need to take him shopping. The only problem is I don’t know what to get a seven-year old boy.”

“Richard, it sounds like you and Steven could use some help shopping. My older sister used to take me with her when she shopped for her kids. I may be able to make things easier for you. Would you like me to go with you?”

Richard thought for a moment. “We could really use the help but I can’t ask you to do that.”

“After what you have done for me? It’s the least I could do. Besides, it will be fun. It sounds like Steven can use all the help he can get. I’d love to meet Steven and go with you. Please allow me to help.”

“You make a good point. All right, how soon can you be here?”

Richard gave me his address, which is a thirty-minute drive for me. The traffic was light and the drive was quick. Richard’s house was a meticulously kept 1930’s craftsman-style house with a full width natural-finished wood front porch framed by tall oak trees.

Richard greeted me at the door with his luscious smile, a big hug and a tender kiss. “Hey there! I appreciate you coming on such short notice, Chris. Come in and meet Steven.”

I entered the beautiful house and noticed a cherubic boy with long shaggy blond hair and dark brown eyes sitting on the rug in the living room playing with a toy car.

I smiled, approached, knelt on the floor and reached my hand to shake his. “Hi. You must be Steven. I’m Chris. It’s very nice to meet you.”

Steven shook my hand looking at me cautiously and forced a smile. “It’s nice to meet you too, Mister Chris. Are you going to go shopping with Uncle Richard and me?”

“Would you like that, Steven?”

Steven shrugged. “I don’t know. Nobody has ever taken me shopping before.”

I was shocked. If Steven only had two changes of clothes, did Richard’s brother and his wife live in poverty? If so how could they afford to go to Thailand? Was Steven a deprived child? My experience as an uncle was about to come in handy.

With Richard standing beside me, I gave Steven a smile. “Steven, I’ll help you guys shop but I don’t work for free.”

Steven lowered his head. “I don’t have any money to pay you, Mister Chris.”

“Money? Who said anything about money? I work for hugs. Do you think you could conjure up some of those for payment?”

Steven gave a surprised look, smiled and gave me a big hug.

I returned the hug. “That’s just the first payment. I expect quite a few more of those, so be prepared to pay up.”

Steven giggled. “I can make lots more of those for you.”

I smiled at Steven. “Do you think you can make a hug for Uncle Richard too? After all, he’s going to take us shopping.”

Steven stood and reached his arms for Richard, who bent down and hugged Steven lovingly.

Richard’s smile turned into a grimace. “Steven, when was the last time you had a bath?”

Steven thought for a few seconds. “Three days ago. Mom and Dad didn’t want me to take baths much cause it used up the hot water.”

Richard looked Steven in the eye. “Steven, when you are here you don’t need to worry about using up all the hot water. It’s ok to take a bath every morning. Do you understand?”

Steven nodded. “Good. This morning you can take a quick shower since we’re going to be going in a few minutes. Would that be all right?”

Steven nodded once more and Richard took him to the bathroom, where Steven got in the shower and lathered up. Meanwhile I took the clothes Steven was wearing and put them in the laundry room. I took worn but clean jeans, a faded T-shirt, socks and briefs out of Steven’s backpack and took them to Steven. In a few short minutes a spotless and clean smelling boy appeared in his faded and worn out clothes.

Within a short time, we were in Richard’s daily driver, his Mazda CX-5, headed for the mall. Our first stop was the boy’s department at Reno Outfitters, where I picked out three pair of jeans, two pair of dress slacks and two button up dress shirts. While Richard found socks, undershirts and underwear for him, I had Steven pick out several dress T-shirts. The three of us collectively picked four sweaters and four hoodies. Steven looked across the aisle at suits for boys but remained quiet. When Richard noticed, he asked him if he ever had a nice suit and tie. Steven shook his head. We had him try on two suits. The sales clerk offered to have them tailored and Richard agreed. We picked out four neckties for Steven and visited the shoe department. Once the shoe sales clerk got his size, he brought out several pair of runners, Hush Puppy style shoes, and leather dress shoes. We picked out two of each for Steven. Richard suggested Steven and I get a head start on the next store, Sierra Hike and Ski Emporium, while he paid for the clothes that were all on sale.

At Sierra Hike and Ski Emporium, Steven and I tried on down and polyester-filled jackets. He picked out a particularly sporty looking one. Richard soon joined us and the three of us tried on hiking boots. We all found waterproof boots that were comfortable and fitting. Richard suggested we buy ski pants and gloves in the event we wanted to go skiing one day. We left the store with complete winter ski outfits, all on sale, for each of us.

We had two more stops in the mall to make. First we went into the Apple Store, where Richard bought a new laptop for Steven. Steven carried the bag holding his laptop box on the way to the cellular phone store. Steven and I waited in the mall while Richard went into the store to buy Steven a new phone and put it on his family plan.

While we were waiting, Steven and I walked to the greeting card store next door and looked at their display windows of collector cars, trucks and airplanes. Steven reached over and held my hand. A wave of emotion flowed over me. It was that moment when I realized how special Steven was. I realized I had before me a wonderful opportunity to be with two loving people for the rest of my life.

We made another stop at a big box department store where we found more pants, shirts, shorts, sweaters, coats and hoodies for Steven. From the boys department we went to the sundries department, where Steven picked out a toothbrush while Richard and I loaded the basket with all the other bathroom necessities such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, a loofa sponge and a few other incidentals. Our last stop was the toy department. Steven looked at Richard with confusion on his face.

“Uncle Richard, why are we here? Do you still play with toys?”

Richard and I laughed and Richard clarified things for him. “Steven I enjoy playing with toys, yes, but we’re here to get you some toys. Why don’t you look around and pick out a few things you would like.”

Steven’s eyes widened and he grinned from ear to ear. This was better than Christmas for him. Steven picked out a set of three trucks, a pickup truck, dump truck, and road rally truck. He got to the hot wheels and selected several vintage cars and trucks. He browsed more and found diecast vintage airplanes. He passed up the jet fighters and selected a DC-3, a Lockheed Constellation, and a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. Richard and I looked at each other wondering about Steven’s interests in vintage cars, trucks and planes. Richard picked out a Frisbee, a set of playing cards, crayons, a Jenga game, a Battle ship game and a Pictionary Game. Steven smiled approvingly. Richard asked Steven if he would like any video games but Steven wasn’t interested in them.

As we left the big box store, Steven looked at Richard curiously. “Uncle Richard, are we finished shopping?”

Richard looked at Steven. “Are you getting tired, Buddy?”

“No, Uncle Richard. It’s just…” Tears formed in Steven’s eyes. “Well, you’ve bought me all this cool stuff. No one has ever shopped with me and bought me things like you guys have.”

Richard knelt in front of Steven, put his hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “Steven, it’s important to me that you at least have clothes, a warm home and healthy food to eat. It’s also important to me that you are happy and know I love you very much. Is that all right with you?”

Steven wiped tears from his eyes and nodded. “Thank you Uncle Richard. And thank you too, Mister Chris.”

I also knelt down to talk to Steven eye to eye. “You’re welcome, Buddy. There is something else you should know. Sometimes people enjoy buying things for people who deserve and need them. As long as you thank them for it and show them you truly appreciate them doing that, it’s okay to let them buy things for you and not feel bad about it. Does that make sense?”

Steven nodded, smiled and gave us both big tight hugs.

Misty-eyed, we smiled and hugged each other in a group hug.

Richard ruffled Steven’s hair. “Steven, your hair is pretty long and shaggy. Is this the length you like your hair?

Steven shook his head. “I like my hair short. Mommy waited until it got long and would cut it herself with her sewing scissors. She said haircuts cost a lot of money.”

I smiled. “What do you think, Richard, should we give him the full makeover treatment?”

“I think so, Chris. We can go the barbershop downtown where I get my haircut. By the time we’re finished we can have an early dinner. There is a good café across the street from that where we can get the best burgers in town. How does that sound, guys?”

Steven was excited to have all that extra hair cut off. We decided we all could use haircuts and the burgers sounded delicious to all of us. It was a quick drive to the barbershop located in a building probably constructed in the 1920s. The front of the shop had two large windows and a central door in a recessed entry. The walls were covered with sea green and black tiles laid in an art deco style. A red, white, and blue striped barber pole was mounted on the wall to the right of the entry. We entered the shop to the sound of the tinkling of a bell triggered by the door opening. The smells of an old fashioned barbershop had me wondering if we had stepped through a porthole into 1935. We were greeted with smiles by two friendly, older men wearing white barber shirts. They stood from the two vintage barber chairs and shook Richard’s hand. Richard knew the two barbers from going to the shop for years. Richard introduced us to Ken and Marlon, the two barbers. After shaking their hands we hung our coats on the metal coat tree.

Richard insisted Steven and I go first since he just needed a little trim. Ken set a booster seat on the barber’s chair for Steven. He draped an apron over Steven, wrapped a piece of tissue paper around his neck and clipped a fastener to hold the apron and tissue firmly.

Ken turned Steven’s chair towards the wall where a full-length mirror was mounted and smiled at Steven. “Now sir, how would you like your hair cut today? We’re having a special on reverse Mohawks.”

Steven giggled and shrugged. “I don’t know, I’ve never been to a barbershop before.”

Ken looked in the mirror at Richard who laughed. “Ken, the reverse Mohawk sounds intriguing but lets see how it would look short on the sides and back, tapered, and maybe a little longer on top.” Steven nodded in agreement.

As Marlon cut my hair I watched Steven’s reflection in the big mirror. He seemed fascinated by all the different colored bottles of lotions and tonics as well as the different razors, combs, brushes and other equipment in front of him.

Marlon did an excellent job cutting my hair. It was one of the best haircuts I could remember having. I knew I would return many times to this shop. After Ken finished cutting Steven’s hair Richard took his seat in Ken’s chair. It wasn’t long before the three of us gave our thanks, said our goodbyes, put our coats on and walked out of the barbershop feeling ten pounds lighter and happy with our haircuts.

The aroma of cooking burgers emanating from the restaurant across the street, The Burger Alley, reminded us how hungry we were. We wasted no time crossing the street and entering the small café where we all ordered cheeseburgers and fries.

As we were waiting for our food Richard asked, “Chris, I was wondering if you would like to go on a day trip tomorrow.”

“That sounds exciting. Where are we going?”

“Yesterday I talked to a man in Grass Valley, who is selling a truck. Tomorrow I would like to drive there to look at the truck I’m considering buying. I think it would also be good for Steven to go along on an adventure. I wonder if possibly you might be available to ride with Steven and me to get the truck.”

“Richard, would it be okay to take my truck? When do you want to go?”

“That would be great, yes. Will you be able to go tomorrow morning?”

“Yes, I can be ready any time in the morning. Where should I meet you?”

We discussed the details over our cheeseburgers and fries. Steven grew excited about the trip. After dinner we drove to Richard’s house where we all exchanged hugs and kisses. I drove back to the ranch for the night.

The sun shined brightly over the eastern foothills the next morning as I made the quick drive to Reno and parked in front of Richard’s home. Richard met me at the door and invited me in.

After hugs, Richard thanked me for going with him and Steven and for taking my truck. “I was afraid I’d have to cancel my trip. I’ll be paying for the gas, of course. Come in.”

Steven ran out of the kitchen and gave me a big hug. “Are you going to take Uncle Richard and me on a trip?”

I nodded. “I am, yes. Have you ever been to California?”

Steven shook his head no.

“Well, you get to have a special treat then. That’s where we’ll be driving this morning.”

Steven gave a brighter smile and seemed excited about the trip.

In a short time, the three of us were in my truck heading west, over the Sierra Mountains. We talked and laughed during the entire trip. Being with Richard, there were moments I felt like a giddy schoolgirl on her second date with the handsome high school quarterback and his little brother. Every once in a while, Richard would glance at me and give that amazing smile. Steven, sitting between us, watched us glancing and smiling at each other. He gave a knowing grin. Soon he relaxed, opened up and asked many questions about where we were going and what we were going to do. He wanted to know what kind of truck Richard wanted to buy.

Richard explained. “It’s a very old truck, Steven.”

Steven’s eyes widened. “Is it older than me, Uncle Richard?”

Richard snickered. “Yes, much older. The ad says it’s a 1942 Ford truck.”

Steven became excited. “Uncle Richard, I know what that looks like. It has fifteen chrome bars going up and down the front end and it has big round headlights poking out like a frog’s eyes.”

I gave a confused look at Steven. “How do you know what that truck looks like, Steven?”

Steven explained. “My grandpa taught me about cars and trucks when I was two years old. I can tell you what any car is if you ask me.”

We tested Steven’s knowledge by pointing to cars and trucks and asking him to tell us what they were. To Richard’s and my surprise Steven knew the make, model and year of every car and truck I pointed to.

I gave him a much due compliment. “Steven, when it comes to knowing cars and trucks, I think you’re probably the smartest person I’ve ever met.”

Steven smiled and thanked me. He looked at Richard. “Are you going to marry him, Uncle Richard?”

Richard blushed. “Steven, Chris and I only met a few days ago. We are starting to get to know each other. When two people meet it’s important they spend a lot of time getting to know each other more to see if they are compatible. If they find they are compatible and like each other a lot they may want to think about marriage. Do you understand?”

Steven thought for a moment in silence and gazed at Richard. "Uncle Richard, what is combatable? Does that mean they have to fight each other?”

Richard chuckled. “Steven, the word I’m saying is compatible. That means they have things in common, have similar likes and dislikes, get along well and love each other. I like Chris a lot and I am pretty sure he likes me too. But we have a long time to go before we talk about marriage.

Steven looked back and forth at Richard and me. “Well, I think you guys should get married because I like you both a lot.”

We took turns giving Steven hugs. Mine was one-handed of course, keeping my eyes on the road. Beaming, Steven returned the hugs.

Time flew on the drive to Grass Valley. Before we knew it, we arrived at our destination, a log house surrounded by tall pine trees on a residential street. A hand-carved sign at the front of the driveway read “Sierra Nature Glassworks”. We walked on the pine needle-covered path to the front door of the house where we found a handwritten note taped to the door. It read, “I’m in the studio around the back of the house. Come on back. Tyson”. We walked around to the back and found a small detached studio. The door was open so we entered to find a thin, white-haired gentleman working on a glass ornament at a workbench.

The gentleman carefully sat his ornament on the workbench and looked over the top of his round bifocal glasses at us. “Hello, gentlemen. How may I help you?”

Richard smiled. “Are you Mr. Tyson?”

The elderly man nodded. “Yes, I am he. Are you Richard?”

“I am and this is my nephew, Steven and my friend, Chris.”

Mr. Tyson greeted us kindly and shook our hands. “If you will follow me, I’ll show you the truck.”

We followed Mr. Tyson out of the studio, across the yard, and into a small wooden plank garage at the rear of the property. He swung the pair of large doors open to reveal a vehicle hidden under a dusty cover.

Mr. Tyson apologized as the cover moved back. “Sorry about all the dust and dirt. It’s been sitting here for about twenty years. Fortunately, my dad properly prepared the truck to be in storage, so with some gas in the tank, air in the tires, and a new battery, it should start right up and drive.”

We helped Mr. Tyson completely remove the cover, revealing a dusty black Ford pickup in pristine condition. The truck, sat on jack stands and the wheels and tires sat in the bed of the truck.

Mr. Tyson explained. “The tires should hold air but I am pretty sure it will need new ones if you’re going to drive it on the highway.”

Richard, Steven and I looked over the truck from bumper to bumper. We were impressed with the truck’s condition, especially for its age. Richard asked Mr. Tyson about its history.

Mr. Tyson smiled and began telling us of the truck’s history. “When my dad was 24 years old in the spring of 1942, he bought the truck from a Sacramento Ford dealer. He kept the truck on his farm in Marysville and used it regularly. When he was 80 years old he gave it to me. I had good memories of riding in that truck so I kept it like a treasure from my childhood. I stored the truck in here for safekeeping. Lately I’ve realized it’s only taking up space and like a lot of the stuff I’ve kept around for sentimental reasons, I need to get rid of it. Besides, I could use the space in the garage so the truck has to go. I would like to keep it but I have to let go and move on. Anyway, it’s yours if you want it. I’m firm on my price though. I won’t take less than $1,500 for it.”

Richard and I looked at each other in astonishment. Steven pulled on Richard’s sleeve.

“What is it, Steven?”

Steven whispered to Richard. “Uncle Richard, I need to talk to you and Chris outside please.”

Richard looked at Mr. Tyson. “Would you excuse us for a moment please?”

Mr. Tyson nodded. The three of us stepped outside.

“What did you want to tell us, Steven?”

“I wanted to tell you that truck isn’t a 1942 Ford. It’s a 1940 Ford. The fronts of 1942 Ford Trucks were boxier and had fifteen chrome bars. This one has a pointy grill.”

Richard looked at Steven with a confused expression. “Are you sure, Steven?”

Steven nodded yes.

I laughed. “Richard, I don’t think we’d better question Steven. He knows his cars and trucks.”

Richard thought a moment and looked at me. “If that is a 1940 Ford, it’s much more desirable. Thank you, Steven. Let’s go back inside and talk with Mr. Tyson.”

Richard ruffled Steven’s now shorter hair, resulting in a big grin from Steven, and we stepped back into the garage.

With a stoic expression Richard looked at Mr. Tyson and nodded. “Okay, I can live with that price. We have a deal. We’ll need to rent a car trailer to tow it home.”

Richard and Mr. Tyson shook hands. He would get the paperwork ready and put the tires and wheels on the truck while we rented the trailer. We returned 45 minutes later and backed the car trailer to the garage door. With the help of a winch on the front of the trailer the four of us managed to put the Ford truck on the trailer and secure it. Richard paid Mr. Tyson in cash for the truck and Mr. Tyson signed the title and bill of sale. After refilling my truck’s gas tank, the three of us grabbed a quick lunch at Burger Depot and were on the road to Reno. Richard, Steven and I were excited about the new purchase.

Steven voiced his excitement to Richard. “Uncle Richard, I think that truck is really cool. Does it say on those papers what year the truck is?”

Richard pulled out the title and bill of sale. “Well, look at that. Steven, you were right. It is a 1940 Ford. How about that!” Richard gave Steven a loving hug.

Steven giggled and hugged Richard back.

I smiled and ruffled Steven’s hair. “Way to go, wise master of cars and trucks!”

Steven looked up at me and giggled. “Thank you, Uncle Chris.” Richard and I looked at each other in surprise and laughed.

I glanced in the rear view mirror at the truck. “Richard, I envy that you get to work on and drive that cool truck.”

Richard looked surprised. “I didn’t know you were into old cars.”

“I’ve always liked them. My grandmother used to drive me around in her old Cadillac. She said one day that car would be mine. While I love my grandmother and want her around as long as possible, I look forward to owning that Cadillac.”

Steven smiled at me curiously. “Uncle Chris, what year and color is your Grandmother’s Cadillac?”

“Steven, it is a silver blue 1962 Coupe DeVille.”

Steven thought for a moment and smiled. “That’s a pretty Cadillac. Can I ride in it when you get it?”

I gave him a quick hug. “You sure can, Steven.”

Richard grinned. “If you two are interested, I’d love your help working on the Ford.”

I grinned. “That would be awesome. I’d be happy to. How about you, Steven?

Steven was excited. “Could I? I want to help too. Thank you Uncle Richard.”

I remembered Richard’s companion, or friend, or whatever he was to Richard. “What about Lawrence, does he like cars and trucks?”

Richard let out a frustrated sigh. “Lawrence likes what he thinks makes him look good driving down the road, as though he is wearing the car. He has to have a new high-end trendy car to show off his lofty image. That isn’t my style. I don’t care what I look like to others. I prefer something practical but still fun to drive, like my CX-5. I also like old cars like this Ford truck and my Oldsmobile that are fun projects. I get to work on them, preserve a piece of history, and I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor, driving them.”

With pulling the extra weight of the trailer and truck, the trip over the Sierra Mountains took longer than the trip down the mountain going to Grass Valley, but we made it to Richard’s house with plenty of daylight left for us to unload the truck into Richard’s garage. Steven was giddy with excitement when he got behind the wheel of the truck to slowly back it down the trailer ramps to the ground, steer it to the driveway along the side of the house and park it. When it was secure and covered, we delivered the trailer to the rental shop in Reno, a short 10-minute drive, and returned to Richard’s home to find Lawrence sitting in his convertible talking on his phone in front of Richard’s house. Upon seeing him, Richard became tense.

Lawrence got out of his car and marched up to Richard. He was shorter than I had imagined and had an almost frail body, though I have to admit he had a cute face. Any cuteness was suddenly undermined by a hostile personality.

“Where in the hell have you been? Don’t you know I’ve been trying to call you?” He sneered at Steven and me. “Who the hell is this?” I stood with my hand protectively on Steven’s shoulder.

Richard looked sternly at Lawrence. “This is my nephew, Steven, and my friend Chris."

Without looking in our direction, Lawrence coldly, as if he was annoyed that he had to say something, mumbled, “Oh, so now you’re playing daddy to a little boy?”

He put his hands on his hips, facing Richard. “So, where have you been? I’ve been waiting here for an hour. I want you to take me to dinner tonight and I want to go to Jasmine Star Palace.”

I was taken aback by how aggravating, demanding and self-absorbed Lawrence was. Why do some of the nicest guys get stuck with people who are complete opposites?

Richard declined. “Lawrence, I’ve had a long day and I’m tired.”

Lawrence was relentless. “So?  I don’t care. I was counting on going out tonight. Frankie and Bobby will be there and I want to show them I can go to Jasmine Star Palace too. So be at my place at 6:00. We’ll drive my car to the restaurant.”

Richard was livid. He picked Lawrence up, carried him to his car, tossed him inside and grabbed his collar pulling him close to his face. “I’ve had it with your selfish demands, disrespectful attitude, and antagonistic, inconsiderate treatment of everyone including my friends and family. That’s it. We are done. You’re no longer welcome in my life. Don’t call me anymore, don’t come to my house anymore and stay away from my friends and family. Now leave."

Lawrence called Richard every name in the book as he started his car and floored the accelerator. While spinning his tires he lost control of the car and slammed into the curb with a bang. He backed up and spun out again, fishtailing down the street, nearly hitting a parked car.

Richard came over to us and affectionately put his arms around us. “Chris and Steven, I’m sorry you guys had to witness that. That was rude. He can be a jerk.”

“That’s okay, Richard. It seemed he deserved that.”

It was getting late and I needed to get back to the ranch to put the animals away for the night. Richard thanked me with a tender kiss and embrace. I said my farewells, wished him a fun evening, got a loving hug and thank you from Steven and drove home. That night I thought about the day’s activities, the fun we three had driving to Grass Valley, buying the truck and bringing it to Richard’s home in Reno. Steven and I got along well. What a great kid! I realized how comfortable I felt with Richard, as if we’d known each other for years. I wondered if he felt the same. Would our friendship stay as it was or would it grow to something more? My thoughts turned to Richard’s confrontation with Lawrence. Did we witness the end of their relationship? It seemed that way but then Richard has such a kind heart. Would he see to caving in and taking Lawrence back?

At 8:45 P.M. my phone rang. The caller I.D. indicated it was Richard. I answered the call. “Hi Richard. How was your evening after Lawrence left?”

“Lawrence called after you left, he said he was sorry if I took anything he said wrong. He begged me to stay with him and take him out to dinner.”

“Well, if anything he’s relentless.”

“Yes, he is. I told him I was staying home with Steven and if he wanted to go out, he could go without me. I reiterated we were done and to never contact me again.

“How did he take that?

“He had a temper tantrum over the phone, telling me I was heartless and didn’t care about him. It seems he doesn’t understand people have other priorities. Lawrence likes to be with his friends so he can show off whatever outfit he bought that day. He is more focused on being seen than being with a date.”

“Richard, is he always like he was this afternoon?”

“If you mean self-centered, yes. The last time we went to the Jasmine Star Palace, after the food arrived Lawrence threw a hissy fit, yelling at the waitress loud enough for everyone in the restaurant to hear, complaining it wasn’t what he ordered and sent the food back to the kitchen. I remember him ordering his food and the waitress brought exactly what he asked for. He wanted to make a scene in front of his uppity friends. Chris, the reason I called is to once again apologize for Lawrence’s rude behavior this afternoon. I’m sorry you had to experience that.”

I smiled. “Thank you, Richard. I came out unscathed though. Lawrence didn’t hurt my feelings but thank you for thinking about me. I am more worried poor Steven may have been hurt by Lawrence’s behavior.”

“Steven is pretty smart. After you left, he told me I was right not to let Lawrence bully me around and that I deserve someone better in my life. He said I deserve you.”

I felt my eyes get misty. “And what do you think about that?”

“Steven is right. Chris, I really like you and I enjoy being with you very much. So does Steven.”

I wiped tears from my eyes. “Richard, I like you and Steven very much and I enjoy being with you a lot, too. I had a great time with you and Steven today. He’s such a great kid and his uncle is pretty great too.”

Richard paused and sighed. “Thank you, Chris. I think the same thing about you. I am excited to spend more time with you. As much as I would like to talk more with you tonight, I think we should get some sleep. Tomorrow morning, Steven and I need to go register him in school.”

“Yes, I am sure the three of us are going to sleep well after such a fun-filled day. I hope everything goes well tomorrow. Have a good night, Richard.”

“Thanks, Chris. I’ll call you tomorrow. Thanks again for a wonderful day.”

It had indeed been a long but enjoyable day. I realized how tired I was after the long day and went to bed.