Why Me?

Chapter Sixty-Five

We slept a couple of hours and just sat around the house. After the big dinner, neither of us was hungry, so we just put on a pot of coffee, and when it was ready we took our coffee into the living room.

Mike grabbed the remote and ran through the channels on the TV, but there was nothing on that caught our interest, so he put some CD's on the stereo, and we settled back for a quiet evening. I was nestled up against his side on the couch, with my nose buried in his shoulder, just inhaling that wonderful scent that was pure Mike. I wasn't really asleep, but I was in that wonderful place that was just us and the music.

About eight o'clock, Mike stirred and sat up, rousing me. "I think I could do with a sandwich. How about you?"

"Yeah, I guess so. What do you want?"

"Didn't we save the roast beef?"

"Yeah, and the turkey."

"I think a roast beef sandwich with a little mustard would taste good."

"OK, I'll fix sandwiches. Do you want anything else?"

"Just some coffee."

I roused myself, picked up our empty coffee cups from the coffee table and went out to the kitchen. I got out the bread and the sliced roast beef, got the mustard from the cupboard and made two sandwiches. I put them on plates and set them on the table. Then I rinsed out our coffee cups and refilled them. When I turned around, Mike was standing there, watching me. "Damn! You really are cute, when you're being domestic!" I just gave him a dirty look and set the coffee cups on the table with our plates. We sat down to eat.

"Well, Davie boy, it's back to the old sweat shop tomorrow!"

I sighed. "I know, and I'm really not looking forward to it."

"Are you still worried about what people are going to think, what they might say?"

"You know, I'm actually not. We're dealing with adults here, people who've known us a long time. If they can't accept it, they can ignore it, or, as you said, they can find another place to work."

He gave me a big smile and reached across the table to take my hand. "That's my boy! I knew you'd eventually get over your irrational fears. This isn't junior high, and adults don't act the same way kids might."

We finished our sandwiches, refilled our coffee cups and went back into the living room. We settled down on the couch and sat snuggled together, listening to music. About 9:30 Mike stretched and yawned.

"I think I'm gonna go to bed now. It's been a busy week, and I'm about worn out."

"Me, too." We went through the house, turning off lights and making sure the doors were locked. Then we went into the bedroom, stripped out of our clothes and dropped them on the floor. I realized that I needed to do some laundry. Oh, well, maybe tomorrow night, after work. When I slipped into bed and snuggled up to Mike, he wrapped me in a warm hug. I was asleep in no time.

The annoying buzz of the alarm woke me Monday morning. Mike was sleeping with his back to me, and I was cuddled up against him. I rolled over, turned off the alarm and dragged my unwilling body out of bed and into the bathroom. After taking care of all my business there, including a warm shower, I was awake and feeling almost human. I went out to the kitchen, dumped and rinsed the coffee pot and started a fresh pot of coffee brewing. I went into the living room and retrieved our coffee cups, brought them out to the kitchen and rinsed them out. When the coffee was ready, I poured myself a cup and sat down to collect my thoughts.

I finished my first cup of coffee and went to wake Mike up. He was still sleeping on his side, facing away from me. "Mike?" I shook his shoulder gently and dodged the swat I knew was coming. It took several shakes before he muttered something and rolled over. He looked at me through slits and growled.

"Mike, you've got to get up now. We have to get ready for work."

I couldn't understand his mumbled reply, and I was probably better off not understanding it. But he was awake now, or at least partially awake. I went back out to the kitchen, poured his coffee and refilled my own cup. I heard the toilet flush and the shower start. OK, we were off on a workday morning. I sat and sipped my coffee.

In a few minutes he came wandering out to the kitchen, dressed, but still not really awake. I set his coffee at his place, and he sat down, while I went into the bedroom to get dressed for work. When I got back, he was staring morosely into his coffee cup, so I sat down and waited until he regained the power of speech.

Finally he looked up. "Ya know, Davie, a week off sounded really good. They didn't tell us what going back to work after a week off was going to feel like!" I couldn't think of a good response, so I just smiled. He finished his coffee and got up to refill our cups.

"We are definitely going out for breakfast this morning."

"OK. No arguments here."

He grinned. "Oh, you're no fun this morning. I look forward to arguing about going out for breakfast."

"I'm too tired to argue this morning. What I'd really like to do is go back to bed."

"Me, too, but we have to set a good example for our workers, you know." His scowl was funny, and I chuckled.

"Oh, you think it's funny, do you? Tell that to the CEO!"

"I think not!" I got up, took my cup to the sink and rinsed it out. I set it on the counter and turned off the coffee pot. Mike came over to the sink, rinsed out his cup and set it beside mine, then pulled me into a warm hug.

"Happy New Year, baby. Just want you to know that I love you." He gave me a light kiss.

"And I love you, too, Mike, more than I can say." He gave me another squeeze, and we went to the living room to get our jackets. It didn't seem quite so cold this morning, but it was still winter, without a doubt. We sat shivering in the car, as we waited for it to warm up. Then we were off to find breakfast.

Mike looked over at me. "What would you think about going to that diner where we had New Year's breakfast?"

"Sounds good to me. Maybe our little waitress survived the coronary you gave her, and we'll get some decent service." He chuckled.

"She did look a little shocked, didn't she?"

When we got to the diner, there were several people already there. The little waitress came over to the counter and recognized us.

"Well, hi, guys! Let's see, coffee first, and do you know what you want to eat?"

Mike grinned. "How's the French toast?"

She leaned across the counter and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. "It's awful! Our cook makes a lot of good things, but French toast definitely isn't one of them!"

"Well, what would you recommend?"

"We've got a nice breakfast platter of eggs, sausage, home fries and toast on special this morning."

"That sounds good to me. What about you, Davie?"

"Yep, that sounds good to me, too."

"All righty! Two breakfast platter specials, and I'll get your coffee now." She turned to the coffee urn, filled two mugs and set them in front of us. Then she jotted some notes on her pad and hurried into the kitchen. Mike grinned.

"I like her! She's almost as cute as you are, when she's being domestic." I gave him a dirty look and an elbow in the ribs.

We sat and sipped our coffee until the waitress returned with our breakfast platters. She set them in front of us, grabbed some silverware and set it out (in the proper order, of course! Mike checked.) Then she picked up our coffee mugs and took them over to top them off. She set them back in front of us. "There ya go, guys! Enjoy!" Why do waitresses always say that? There must be a waitress handbook with all the annoying things you can say to customers without being rude.

We dug into our breakfast, and when we were finished, the waitress came over and removed our plates. "A little more coffee, guys?"

"Thanks, but we don't have time this morning. We're off to work." Mike grinned at her, as she tore the bill off her pad and laid it in front of him. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a fifty. "Thanks, sweetheart, it was a great breakfast." He walked out, and I followed closely, not daring to look back this time.

When we walked into the shop, Marty and Steve were already there. Steve was looking decidedly uncomfortable, and Marty was in 'big sister mode.' I wondered what was up, but I was sure I'd find out soon enough. Mike went out on the floor and was talking with some of the guys on the line.

Marty went into her office and booted up her computer. I noticed that she kept giving us anxious glances as she worked. Steve came into our office and just stood there, like a ten-year-old expecting a spanking. I thought I'd try an easy approach to give him a chance to settle down.

"So, did you have a nice vacation, Steve?" Wrong thing to say! He stiffened, and for a few seconds I thought he was going to cry.

"OK, what's happened? Are you all right?"

"Well, actually, Dave, I had a great vacation, but I've got a problem now."

"So, you want to tell me about it?"

"Well, I spent the first weekend at Rob's place. Marty was fine with that. Will came over for dinner on Saturday evening, and I guess they had a good time. But I blew it. I had invited Rob over for dinner with Marty and me on Tuesday, and I forgot to tell her about it. And guess what! She invited Will to dinner the same evening and forgot to mention it to me!"

"Uh-oh! That could have been sticky!"

"Yeah, but when Will found out that Rob owns a sporting goods store, they got talking about guns. It turns out they're both hunters. They've already got a date to go turkey hunting in the spring!"

"Well, that's great! So, where does the problem come in?"

He hesitated and stared at the floor. "Rob wants me to move there and be the business manager for his store."

"Well, that sounds great for you. What does Marty think of the idea?"

"She loves the idea. She and Will are getting really close, and it would make things easier for her, if she didn't have me underfoot all the time, when he comes over."

"So, what's the problem?"

"Dave, you've been so good to Marty and me, and I feel like a real heel, walking out on you. We've just got the second shift going, and there's a lot of extra work. I don't want to walk out and dump all that on you, after all you've done for us."

"Steve, just relax, will you? I think this would be a good move for you and for Marty. And it just so happens that I know a good accountant who's looking for a job right now. The only request I have is that you tell Rob that you can't start for two weeks, so you can be here to show the new guy what his job is."

Steve did start crying then. "Oh, Dave, I can't believe it! Just that simple?"

I walked over and gave him a big hug. "Just that simple, Steve. Let me give the other guy a call to see if he can come in this morning." Steve sat down at his desk, wiping his eyes. I picked up the phone and dialed Milo's number. Trisha answered.

"Hi, Trish, it's Davie. Is Milo there?"

"He went to the store for me. He should be back in a few minutes."

"Look, would you ask him if he can come down to the shop this morning, as soon as possible. I've got some things to tell him."

"OK, I'll tell him. Wait, he just walked in. You can tell him yourself." There was a pause before I heard Milo's voice.

"Davie? What's up?"

"Hey, Milo, can you come down to the shop this morning, the sooner the better? I've got something to talk to you about."

"What's that?"

"I'll tell you when you get here. See you in a little while?"

"I should be there in about half an hour."

"OK. See you when you get here." I hung up and turned to Steve.

"I think our problems may be solved." He looked at me like a prisoner released from death row. Then he turned toward Marty, who was watching closely, and gave her a big grin. She sighed and smiled at him, then mouthed 'Thank you!' to me. I couldn't help grinning, as she returned to her work. She's so much like Annie!

Steve and I talked about his planned move to be with Rob and what he thought his new job would be. It was only about twenty minutes until Milo appeared in the doorway to my office. "You wanted to talk to me?" Steve looked up at him in surprise.

"You look almost exactly like Mike!"

"That's no big surprise. He's my big brother." The look on Steve's face was priceless. He turned to me.

"Is this the guy you were talking about?"

"Yep! Nothing like a little nepotism in the shop, right?" Milo was looking definitely confused at this point.

"What's going on?"

"Well, I just found out that I'm losing my assistant in two weeks, and I need a decent accountant to replace him. Do you know of anyone who would be interested in the job?"

Milo grabbed me in a bear hug. "Oh, Davie, you're a real lifesaver!"

I gave Steve a grin. "I guess that was a 'yes'!" He chuckled.

I nodded toward Marty's office. "Steve, why don't you take a break and have a cup of coffee with your sister? I've got to interview the applicant for your position." He jumped up so fast he almost fell over his desk. Then he headed for the coffee machine and came back in a couple of minutes with two cups of coffee. He passed our door and went into Marty's office. Milo was still looking confused.

I motioned him into one of the side chairs by the desk and pulled up the other, so that I was sitting almost knee to knee with him. "Milo, do you believe in God?" His face was a comic mask of confusion.

"Of course, I do! Why would you ask that?"

"Well, sometimes I have my doubts. Then, every once in a while, He lets me know that He's still there and in complete control."

Milo was still looking totally lost and confused, so I continued. There were three people—four, actually—whose lives were messed up and at a standstill. Then, along came a fifth in the same situation. I can only believe that it was the hand of God that brought this all together and gave the right answer for each of these people."

"Davie, this isn't making any sense to me. What are you talking about?"

"Marty is Steve's older sister, and, like Annie, she has known for years that he is gay. She has always been as protective of him as Annie has been with me. Steve met someone he really cares about, and the feeling is apparently mutual. Marty wants him to be happy, and she has become involved with someone she really cares about, Will, from the stockroom. Now Steve's friend Rob wants him to come live with him and be the business manager for his store. He wants to go, and it would give Marty more time to be with Will. Then, suddenly, you lose your job. You're a perfect replacement for Steve here—if you want the job."

"Want it? I'd kill for a job here with you and Mike!"

"So, you see what I mean now? If this isn't the hand of God at work, I don't know what it is."

Milo was grinning now. "I guess you're right, Davie. Nothing else could straighten out that mess!"

"Well, the only thing I have to do now is to introduce you to our plant manager. He is the one who makes the final decision on any new hires."

"You mean Jim Wheeler?"

"Yep. Hang on a minute, while I give him a call and see if he has time to talk to you now." I picked up the phone and dialed Jim Wheeler's office.

"Jim, I just found out that I'm losing Steve Sanderson from my office, but I have an applicant here who I think has the qualifications to replace him. Would you have time to speak to him this morning? He's here in my office right now."

"Sure, bring him on over. I've got time this morning to interview him."

"OK. We'll be right over." I hung up the phone and grinned at Milo. "Somehow, I don't think you'll have any trouble getting this job."

We went over to Jim's office, and I knocked at the door. He called for us to come on in, and I led Milo into the office and stopped at Jim's desk. He looked up from some papers he was reading.

"Milo! What are you doing here?"

Milo gave him a short summary of how he came to be out of a job. When he finished, Jim looked at me.

"What do you think, Dave? Is he qualified?"

I suppressed the grin. "Well, I don't know. He didn't come with any letters of recommendation from his last employer. I don't know if we can take him on faith."

"I don't know. If his last employer won't recommend him, that doesn't sound too good. Do you want to take a chance with him?" I wasn't the only one holding back a grin.

"Well, Steve has agreed to give him two weeks training before he leaves for his new position. If he can't cut it, we'll just have to struggle along until we find someone who can."

Jim couldn't hold the grin back any longer. "OK, you two yo-yo's! Get out of my office, so I can get some work done!" I could still hear him chuckling, as we went across the hall to my office.

When we got there, Steve was back at his desk. I wasn't sure if they had met, so I introduced them. Then I turned to Milo. "So, how soon can you start? Steve has given me two weeks to train you, before he leaves for his new job."

"As long as I'm here, I can start right now. Just let me call Trisha and let her know that I won't be home for lunch." He picked up the phone and called Trish.

"Hon, you'll never guess what happened! I'm working! Yeah, here at Allied, with Davie. It's a long story, and I'll tell you all about it tonight, when I get home. Things are going to be all right, now. Yeah, I love you, too, Baby. See you tonight." He hung up the phone and turned to me.

"Well, Boss, where do I start?"

I saw Steve grinning. "Well, to begin with, you never call me 'Boss'! You can call me Dave, or Davie, but not 'Boss'! Got that?"

I left the office, got a cup of coffee from the machine and headed down the line to find Mike. When I caught up with him, he looked at the cup of coffee in my hand and grinned. "Time for a coffee break?" I nodded.

"Yeah, I think we need to talk. Things are happening fast around here this morning, and I wanted to catch you up to date."

He went to the machine and got a cup of coffee. "Should we go outside?"

"It's probably a good idea. I'm not sure the line people need to know everything that's happening right now. They'll find out, or figure it out, soon enough."

We went out and sat on the hood of Mike's car. It was a warm, sunny day, with just enough breeze to keep us from getting too warm. Mike took a sip of his coffee and looked at me. "Well, Davie, what's the story?" When I finished telling him about everything that had happened this morning, he just shook his head.

"You'd better write that all down while it's fresh in your mind, Davie. You'll never remember it all!" He was laughing at me. When I thought about the happenings of the morning, I realized that it was funny, and I began laughing, too.

Editor's Notes:

Let me see; didn't I say that I thought things would work out for Milo?

It is also nice to see that both Steve and Marty are going to be happy.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens next, won't we?

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher