Healing Hands of Time
Copyright© 2010 by Joe J
My pleasure at fixing the drawings didn't last past me figuring out that I had nothing else to do. So you know me, give me a minute free, and I'll fill it moping about my newly 'departed for greener pastures' ex-wife.
I was having a hard time working up any animosity towards Lindsey for kicking me to the curb, because I wore heart shaped blinders where she was concerned. That meant, right or wrong, I directed all my animus toward dickhead Blakemore. After all, I rationalized, she was young and naive and easy prey for an experienced seducer like him. It took me a while to figure out that they were birds of a feather.
I was enjoying my favorite fantasy - you know, the one where Blakemore comes into Maybelline's bar after I've had four shots of Jack, and challenges me to duke it out with him in the parking lot - when my cell phone buzzed. I loosened my fantasy grip around Blakemore's neck with one hand and flipped it open without looking at the caller ID display.
"J&L Construction, this is Josh."
"Good morning Mister Fuller, this is Amber Griffith calling," purred my phone.
"My name's Josh, Amber. Mister Fuller is my dad."
"Okay, Josh it is. I know you received your final decree yesterday; the return receipt was in our morning mail. How are you holding up?"
Her question surprised me, and given where and for whom she worked, I wasn't about to provide her an honest answer.
"Won't they make you walk the plank down there for asking me something like that? I'm the enemy, after all, so it's treason for you to be concerned about me. Plus, knowing who you work for, I'll bet the confidentiality clause you signed was eight pages long."
She laughed throatily and her voice dropped an octave.
"Your case is over and I don't think asking how you feel compromises my integrity. They'd be angrier that I swiped your cell phone number out of the file. Beside, I gave human resources my notice as soon as I returned to the office from your hearing with Hawkins."
That wasn't exactly good news to me.
"I hope you didn't resign over me, Amber, I'd hate to have that on my conscience."
"My official reason was so I'd have the time to take three courses at State during the term that starts week after next. That is mostly true. I've been going to school at night and on the weekends for almost six years, and I'm only three courses away from my JD. I didn't burn any bridges with CF&B. I plan on opening my own family law practice, but who knows, I might need a reference from them one day."
I sincerely congratulated Amber on her grit for chasing her dream like that. I made her laugh when I bemoaned the fact that the world didn't need the lawyers it had, let alone one more. We bantered back and forth for another minute or two, then she got to the purpose of her call.
"So listen Josh; Friday is my last day at work, and I need to discuss a few things with you. Do you think you could buy a poor unemployed girl dinner Saturday night?"
I didn't hesitate a second, because I was curious as to what we had to discuss.
"Sure, I can do that. What did you have in mind?"
"Nothing fancy please. After dressing up for work these last six years, I'm about over it."
"Good answer! And I know just the place. Would seven work for you?"
"I'll be ready; here's my address..." she said.
I copied down her address and we rang off. I was trying to figure out Amber's angle, when I noticed Mitzi leaning against the jamb of my office door with her arms folded across her chest. It was a posture that more often than not, preceded one of her one-way discussions. Sure enough, as soon as she saw me looking, she started.
"Tell me I just didn't hear you make a date with your wife's lawyer."
This time, I fired right back.
"Tell me you weren't listening in on my private conversation."
She spread her arms at waist level and shrugged.
"I was eaves dropping, it's part of my job description under the 'keep your boss from doing something stupid' paragraph. Now answer the question," she huffed.
It was fun finally catching Miss Know-it-All, not knowing it all. It took me a few seconds to line it up in my head, and then spit it out.
"No I did not make a date with my wife's lawyer. I made a date with my ex-wife's attorney's soon to be former paralegal. She gave her notice on the day of my last hearing, and wants to talk to me about something," I explained.
Of course that explanation wasn't enough for nosy Miss Mitzi, so she perched herself on the corner of my desk and quizzed me about Amber. If the CIA had Mitzi quizzing those Al Qaeda terrorist, water boarding would have been superfluous. After she drained me of every drop of information, she nodded and told me to be careful dealing with Amber. I thought that excellent advice.
Since I had nothing much to occupy me, I whipped out my cell phone and made dinner reservations for Saturday night. But hey, I didn't call some smarmy maître d'; I went straight to the top and called the restaurant's owner.
The phone rang twice.
"Mister Poon's, is this take out or delivery?" asked a sweet, slightly accented Asian voice.
"Hey, Iris, it's neither, but I would like to speak to your dad."
"Joshua!" Iris squealed. "He's right here, but you have to talk to me again when you guys finish."
I promised and she gave the phone to my friend Lee Poon, the owner of Mister Poon's Asian Buffet. Lee and I became friends when he hired me to design the mechanicals for his new restaurant. Lee Poon was a savvy businessman, but he had a real problem expressing himself in English. Consequently, I ended up pushing his new place through the permit and regulatory process.
"Josh-u-ah, how you feeling?" Lee asked.
I replied with my now standard 'just fine'. Lee knew all about my marital woes, because I ate at least two meals a week at his place, and he always found a few minutes to sit with me. After another minute of friendly fractured English banter, I told him my reason for calling.
"Lee, I need a favor. I have a dinner engagement Saturday night, and I'd like to make it really nice."
He jumped at the chance to help me out. Lee was one of those guys who, if they liked you, would do anything for you. Lee and I yakked for another minute then I asked him to give the phone back to his daughter.
"Hi Joshua," said a sweet, slightly accented Asian voice.
I chuckled and responded.
"Hi Rose, I thought your sister wanted to talk to me."
"Grrr," she growled into the phone, "how do you do that?"
Rose was Iris's identical twin sister, and I do mean identical. Even their parents had a hard time telling them apart. Yet somehow, I could. I could even tell them apart on the phone most of the time. It freaked the girls out that I could do that, and they were forever trying to figure out what trick I used. I couldn't help them in that, even if I wanted to, because I didn't have a clue my self.
Iris and Rose were sixteen year old heartbreakers in the making. They were beautiful and smart, with one foot firmly planted in their Chinese heritage and the other in popular teenage American culture. Being very smart young ladies, they were the perfect dutiful daughters to their traditional parents, but when they were off by themselves, they were an entirely different matter.
I knew about their antics, because I helped them out once when their flirting and teasing backfired on them. It was a very lucky day for all of us when I pulled into the Galleria Mall parking garage, just in time to catch two large college guys trying to hustle them into one of those ugly little Scion xB matchboxes.
I roared up like the cavalry and blocked their vehicle with three tons of Ford pickup. When I hopped out of my truck, I was carrying a two foot section of inch and a quarter diameter oak dowel, and a nasty scowl. I sent the girls to my truck and noticed when they walked away, how little the miniskirts and cropped tops they wore actually covered. I twirled the stick as if it was a baton, then flashed out with it and whacked both frat boys a fairly good lick high on the inside of their thighs.
"If you even walk by my nieces on the street, I'll hunt you down and use this stick to puree your nads," I snarled menacingly.
They got the message.
As latchkey kids, Iris and Rose didn't have to worry about sneaking past their parents when I brought them home. I gave them a short lecture, but didn't rat them out to their parents, after they promised they'd tone down their conduct. So anyway, because of the incident and my being able to tell them apart, the girls decided that I was 'Uncle Joshua', and their favorite adult. They also teased me unmercifully.
Iris took the phone from Rose and giggled into it.
"We heard Dad say he'd make things nice for your date. We'll help too."
I thanked her for that and rang off the phone before she could say anything outrageous.
The day Amber called was a slack day at work. The next day was not. I had two site visits to conduct, and once back at the office, preliminary proposals for both jobs to write. But I was busy and my heart especially liked that.
I walked into a pleasant surprise when I returned to the office, and found Gil Weaver sitting beside Mitzi's desk. Even though I was fairly certain they'd never met before, the two of them were flirting as if they were in high school. I had to admit that they looked good together, and I wondered why I'd never tried to set them up with each other. When I cocked my eyebrows at them, Gil had the grace to blush, but Mitzi just smirked at me and winked. Since I'd gotten a reaction out of Gil, I kept on him.
"Hello Gil, did you come here to see me, or to hit on my office manager?" I asked.
Old Gil was pretty fast on his feet.
"Oh I came to see you, Josh, but once I met Mitzi, I forgot why."
Gil remembered the reason he was there as soon as he was seated on one of the comfortable lounge chairs in my office. He dug a sheaf of papers out of his briefcase and handed it to me.
"Will Hawkins has hired Weaver-Wilson to turn these sketches into a site plan and engineered drawings for a unique twenty-eight hundred square foot, two story log residence. We don't normally take small residential jobs, but Hawk is a friend of mine. I'd like you to take a trip up to the site in North Carolina and see if this is feasible. If it is, I want you to ramrod the job."
The drawings were a professional version of the idea I'd sketched out for Hawk while sitting in his chambers a few months ago. I figured that Hawk had never mentioned my name to Gil about this, because of the appearance of a conflict of interest issue.
"Sure Gil, it looks like an interesting project. When am I going up there?"
"Hawk is taking a week off at the end of the month, can you go then?"
I checked my schedule and told him yes.
I was nervous in the service Saturday night, when I knocked on the door of Amber Griffith's townhouse. Even though I was still refusing to call it a date, taking Amber to dinner was the first time in six years that I'd been out socially with a woman other than Lindsey. As I stood hesitating in front of her door, I hoped I wasn't dressing down too much in jeans, a collared shirt and my good python skin cowboy boots. Only one way to tell, I figured, so I took a breath and knocked on the door.
Amber opened the door a few seconds after I knocked. She took one look at me and grinned, because her outfit was almost identical to mine. She was wearing an above the knee denim skirt, and a solid color burgundy button-up blouse the same shade as the predominant color on my plaid shirt. Her legs were bare and she wore tassel loafers. Her make up was minimal and her blond mane was pulled back in a long ponytail. Amber was a very pretty woman, no matter what she wore.
"I'm taking us being dressed alike as a good Omen, Josh," she said, kissing me on the cheek.
We made light conversation as I drove towards Mister Poon's. Amber told me about her going away luncheon, and how she was going to miss some of the people she worked with.
"I'll miss Cindy and some of the other admins and paralegals," she'd said, "but I can't think of a single attorney there I'll miss. That includes Sonia Peoples, and I worked for her for three years.
"To me, practicing law means making sure my client is treated fairly and that the scales of justice are balanced. At Crossman, the attorneys are never satisfied until the scales are tilted fully to the side of their client. When I saw that Sonia had misrepresented the truth to make that happen for Lindsey, I decided I'd had enough and put my college plan into action."
When we walked into my friend Lee's restaurant, I was expecting to receive a friendly greeting from him and a nice reserved table in a quiet corner near the buffet, but out of traffic. That is not even close to what happened though, as both Lee and his wife Ling met us at the hostess station with respectful bows.
"Mister Josh-u-ah, welcome back to my humble restaurant. Your usual table is ready, please follow me."
Lee said that line with surprisingly good diction. I figure his daughters must have rehearsed him a few times with it. I was curious, but acted as if it was the norm for my visits, and bowed slightly in return.