Going to the Apple store was almost a ritual for Dom McQuiston. He liked to be around the products, see what might be new, swap news about up-coming or possible up-coming items and just talk with the people who worked there.
One time someone suggested, only half in jest, that Dom take some courses and become one of the 'geniuses'. But if Dom McQuiston knew anything at all, he knew his own limitations with computers and computer technology.
When a friend of his came to him with a financial proposal, namely to invest money in opening an Apple Store, Dom was totally in favor. They made the arrangements, which had Dom doing the bankrolling and his friend Stew running the store. They established a 60-40% partnership, that initially both were fine with, though Dom decided at the beginning that, if the venture went well, he'd change the percentage to give Stew much more of the profit.
They were talking, he and Stew, enjoying themselves, reviewing the features of the new iPhone 5, when Dom saw a young woman, accompanied by a little girl, a very sickly looking little girl, enter the store.
"Stew," he said.
"Yes?" his business partner replied.
"I know that woman; she works for me, newly hired. She doesn't know who I am though, she was hired by my associate/manager Vi. I just don't want the young woman to think that I'm shadowing her."
"You are extra sensitive," Stew said, "But that's why everyone loves you."
They both ended laughing, and Dom went to the back of the store, as Stew went to wait on the young woman and her daughter.
Almost as though they had planned it, Stew drew the young woman, whom Dom had said was named Debra Wilson, over by the doorway through which Dom went.
"Can I help you?" Stew asked.
"Oh, it's more of a fancy than anything," Debra Wilson said.
"Momma," the little girl said, tugging on he Mother's arm, "Have him show us the new iMacs. It's what I want."
Debra Wilson sighed and said: "Yes, please, will you do that."
For a moment, the little girl, whose name was Amanda, was distracted and Debra Wilson spoke to Stew:
"I'm sorry to bother you; she's been so sick and having her own iMac is her dream. I'm wasting your time, I'm afraid. I just finally got a job; this economy, you know, and we surely can't afford the iMac, not with the medical bills, and here I am running on and on. I apologize."
"No problem," Stew said. "It's what she wants to see, and so, let's show her, especially, if it makes her happy."
"So," Stew said, to the little girl, "What is it that you want to see?"
"An iMac," Amanda said, coughing. "Mommie says that we can't buy it but she has a job now and hopes that soon we can. It's my dream."
"Well," Stew replied, "Let's take a look at your dream machine."
They spent the next 15 or so minutes inspecting the lovely, big screened machine, while Dom heard what had taken place. But listening in made him feel creepy and he decided that he'd head out and go home.
As he walked through the store, from the back, he said lightly: "Stew, call me!"
"Will do, Dom," Stew said but noticed, when Dom McQuiston shook his head 'no' and didn't mention anything more about Dom's name.
After another ten minutes, Debra said to the little girl: "Come on, honey, we've had our treat for today and need to get you home for a rest."
Stew gave her his business card and said: "Let me know, if I can be of any further assistance."
"Thank you," Debra said, "I'm afraid that it'll be a while but now and then we need to have a pick me up and your store was today's."
"How nice," Stew said and offered a rather wilting looking Amanda his hand and said: "Amanda, nice to meet you."
Stew made a call soon after they left.
"Hey, partner," Stew said, "You said that you wanted me to call."
"Yes," Dom said, "I'm only over at Panera having coffee and a scone; I'll be right there."
"Good" Stew said, "Scone for me!"
"Got it!" Dom replied.
Dominick McQuiston's life, these days, was wrapped up, almost completely, in the business. When things with his wife, early on, went so bad, before she had been committed and eventually did away with herself, he put himself almost completely into the business. It had certainly paid off for him, making him, in the process, a wealthy man, certainly a lonely wealthy man. Over the years ensuing, it was more the challenge of the business than the money that was important for him but it did leave him wealthy, as he grew older. When he was 40 years old, he and Stew partnered in the Apple Store and a few other businesses that were in the computer market, software, accessories, support etc.
One of Dom's weaknesses, according to his 'person in charge of everything', Vi his associate/manager, was his desire, almost need to get involved with the lives of his people.
In this situation, he felt the same way about Debra Wilson. He'd had her dossier and recognized her, though it was Vi who'd decided to hire the woman.
While he was waiting for Stew to be free, he called Vi:
"Vi, honey," he said, "I need all your information about Debra Wilson."
"What are you plotting now," Vi said with a quick laugh.
"Please, just the information," he said.
"Will do, boss," she said, "Who are you going to have do all these little, crazy acts of love, when I take my leave?"
"Vi, I've already told you that I don't want to talk about that, until we need to," he said softly.
"Okay," she said, "But we need to schedule it within the next two weeks."
"Can do, sweetie," he said.
"Yes, I'll get everything, including the team scuttle-butt about Debra Wilson."
"Thank you," he said.
Then he went to talk to Stew.
"Well here's what it is," Stew said. He went on to explain what Debra said about the outing to the Apple Store being a treat to raise the little girl, Amanda's spirits.
"She obviously is ill," Stew said.
"What did she say about the computer?" Dom asked.
Then Stew told him about what Debra had said to the little girl, and then to him about the new iMac being only a dream at that point.
Stew looked at Dom, and recognized the look on his face: "What are you going to do?" he asked, suspicious.
Just then Dom's phone rang. It was Vi.
"Here's the lowdown, boss," she said.
She described Debra's resume to Dom, which he recalled right away.
"Also," Vi said, "The little girl apparently has a rather severe illness that requires her to be hospitalized several times a year. According to the local gossip, most of what the woman makes is going to medial bills. Also, there is no husband in the picture. He is gone for a few years now, and, I understand, now deceased. That's about what I've been able to get on her."
"Thanks, love," he said.
"By the way," Vi went on, "In the category of 'for what it's worth', she had good credentials and might be a great replacement for yours truly."
"Don't want to talk about it for at least another week!" he said, and left her laughing.
"Sorry, Stew," he said.
"More info on the woman?" he said, laughing.
"Yes," Dom answered, "She's one of mine."
"So, what do you want?" Stew asked.
"The iMac," Dom said. "Will you take it?"
"Anonymous?" Stew asked.
"Of course," Dom said.
"All the normal bells and whistles?" Stew asked then.
"Yes, I think so," Dom said, "Especially, if it makes a brighter day for the little girl!"
"You're too good," Stew said.
Dom just laughed.
Amanda had only just gotten up from her rest, when the doorbell rang. Debra answered the door and was surprised to see the guy from the Apple Store there.
"Ms Wilson?" Stew said.
"Yes?" Debra said, "Oh, you're the man from the Apple store."
"Yes," Stew said, "I need to talk to you."
Debra looked doubtful.
"It's okay," Stew said, "I don't need to come in; I only need to talk for a minute."
"Yes?" she said, turning and listening for any sound from Amanda in the next room, where she was stirring now.
"I've been asked, Ma'am," he continued, "To bring around this iMac for your daughter."
"I don't understand!" Debra said, confused.
"I"m sorry," he went on, "I'm not making it plain. Someone has purchased this iMac for the little girl and asked me to drop it off, and get it set up."
"For Amanda, an iMac?" Debra said, struggling with the reality of it.
"Yes, Ma'am," Stew said.
"I'm sorry," Debra said next, "I'm not trying to be difficult but I don't understand."
"The person who bought it for your daughter wishes to remain anonymous, and I need to honor that person's wish," Stew said next.
"But I can't ... we can't accept this!" Debra said.
"Ma'am, of course you can," he said, "There are no 'strings' attached to the gift at all. I don't want to get into trouble with the donor."
"Oh, dear," Debra said, getting tears in her eyes then.
It was exactly at that moment that Amanda wandered in from the living room.
"Momma?" she said.
Stew smiled at the rather pale little girl, and apparently Debra made an instant decision.
"Amanda, honey," she said softly. "This nice man from the computer store is here because someone has bought the iMac that you've been wanting."
"Really?" the little girl said, getting rather excited right away.
"Oh, Momma! For me?" she said breathlessly.
Stew was smiling then and said, to the little girl: "Yes, for you!" Turning then to Debra he mouthed a soft: "Thank you!"
"No, thank you," Debra said.
.... There is more of this story ...