Chapter 8

  • Chapter 8

    Olivia glanced over at Alec, he hadn’t got up yet so she rolled out of her bed and went and made coffee.  She grabbed a pullover and some slacks and got dressed in the bathroom.  When she came out the coffee was halfway made, “Good,” she muttered, “twice as strong,” as she poured herself a cup.  She added creamer and sweetener and went and opened the door to look outside.  It was partly cloudy and just the right temperature.  It would be a good day to travel.  She thought about the night before as she sipped her coffee, she wondered if Max was a morning person.

    Olivia went to the table and sat her coffee down.  She retrieved her phone and called her mom, careful to keep her voice low so as not to wake Alec.

    “You didn’t call me last night,” her mom said.

    “By the time I got settled it was too late mom.”

    “You’re grown,” she said.

    Somehow hearing her mom say that out loud gave her an empty feeling.  She said, “I’m sorry mom, I know you worry.”

    “Where are you and do you have a time frame for when you will be home?”

    “Not really mom, but we should be in Tulsa by this evening sometime.”  She answered.

    “What’s in Tulsa?” Her mom finally asked.

    “Just something I want to see, I don’t know why.  To be honest, when I planned all this, I thought I’d be alone and just take a road trip to spend some time on the road thinking.”

    “Is this stranger you adopted going to need someplace to stay?” She asked.

    “I don’t think so mom, I think he’s got limited time.  He’s in the military or something.” Olivia said.

    “Okay then, you two be careful and I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

    “Thanks mom.”

    “What I’m looking for,” she thought, “I wonder what I’m looking for.”

    “A safe place to land?” Said Alec.

    Olivia was startled.  She turned around, “Did I say that out loud?”

    “Uh, yeah,” he said, “How else could I hear you?”

    “A safe place to land,” she tapped her coffee cup as Alec sat up in the bed.  “That doesn’t exactly sound very strong, does it?”

    Alec got up and started looking through his bag, “Is it honest though?”

    “Maybe,” she said.  “I saw Officer Glenn last night; he’s a very nice person.”

    “Can you really tell that from one night?” Alec raised an eyebrow and smiled.

    “Well, at least he saw me sober,” she said.  “A safe place to land,” she muttered as he disappeared into the bathroom.  She dug through her purse and retrieved his number and contemplated calling.  She opted to put the number into a fold in her wallet instead.  She smiled and got herself another cup of coffee.

    Alec came out of the bathroom and got what was left of the coffee.  “Should we make another pot?”

    “I’m good if you are,” she replied.

    “What do you think you will find in Tulsa?” Alec asked.

    “I don’t expect to find anything, I just want to go there to say I’ve seen it.”

    Olivia pulled her phone back out and dialed Ed’s number.  When he answered he sounded surprised, “Hello?  What is it, is everything alright?”

    “Everything is alright, I need Angus’ number if you don’t mind.”

    “I fixed the account this morning,” he said.

    “Thank you.  Did you pull more money out?” She asked.

    “I put money back in Olivia.  I won’t be needing to plan on a move so……”

    She paused trying to decide what not to say.  Did she want him to fight the break-up?  If he really cared he would.  “Thank you,” she said.  “Now can I have his number?”

    “Considering that you’ve at least met him and I haven’t, I suppose so.”  He gave her the number and she jotted it down on a notepad the hotel kept by the phone.

    “Thank you Ed……” she paused again, “for everything.”  The phone went dead.  If Alec hadn’t been watching she was sure she would have cried.  Ed hadn’t exactly been a ‘safe place’ to land.

    “You aren’t going to call Angus are you?”  Alec asked.

    “I might as well, seeing as how Ed isn’t going to fire him.”

    She dialed his number and there was no answer.  She hung up when it went to messages and dialed it again.  Georgia answered.  “Is Angus there?” Olivia asked.

    “He’s in the lieu,” she said, “Wait a minute, is it you Olivia?”

    “The one and only,” Olivia said, “When is he gonna be ready to roll?”

    “We just woke up,” Georgia said, then Olivia heard her yell through the door at Angus.  “He wants to know how you got his number.”

    “I got it from Ed, how else would I have it?”  She heard her yell at Angus again.  “He said he’d catch up to you.”

    “Have a good morning,” Olivia said.

    “He slept on the couch,” Georgia said.

    “None of my business,” Olivia replied.

    “Okay then, I just wanted you to know.”

    “Do you know Max?”  Olivia asked.

    She heard the smile in Georgia’s response, “By reputation mostly.”

    “He’s not a womanizer is he?”  Olivia asked.

    “Only when they throw up on him,” she laughed.

    “Never mind,” Olivia wasn’t amused.

    “He’s an extremely nice person,” Georgia said, “he lost his wife two years ago.”

    “Oh, I didn’t know, if you see him……”

    “I’ll tell him you said hello.” Georgia said.

    “Thanks.”  Olivia hung up the phone.  “Angus says he’ll catch up to us,” she told Alec as she gathered her things so they could check out and find some breakfast.


    Angus exited the bathroom and poured himself a cup of coffee.  Then he sat down on Georgia’s couch and picked up his phone.  He pulled up the app and nodded.  “They’re still in town.”

    Georgia crossed her legs and took a sip of coffee and said, “Do you ever feel bad about invading someone’s personal space like that?”

    “Might as well be me,” he said, “At least if they have something to hide I have the option to help them hide it.  If I were a cop I’d have an obligation to report it.  In this case it’s just a runaway wife.”

    “If you were a cop,” she said, “You wouldn’t legally be able to violate someone’s personal space unless you had proof they’d done something wrong.”  Georgia traced the rim of her cup with her finger.

    Angus leveled his eyes at her and said, “The only time a cop needs a warrant is if he’s taking some evidence to court sometime, otherwise they can and sometimes do exactly what they want without impunity.  You’d be surprised what they sometimes do.”

    Georgia took another sip, “I don’t think I would,” she said. 

    Angus was a big man, not in the way of fat, but in the way of bulk, solid as a rock.  He almost had to duck to get through the doorway but Georgia knew that sometimes that was a disadvantage to a man like him.  It made them think the world was kinder than it was.  Men like Angus didn’t run across much opposition.  She wondered if she should tell him that and decided against it.  Instead she got up and walked over and ruffled his wavy black hair.  “I’m gonna go get dressed,” she said as she snugged her silk robe closer around her.  “You need to hit the road soon, it’s a bit of a drive from here to Tulsa.”  Georgia disappeared into her bedroom and Angus smiled and thought, “The fortress.”  He wondered if she’d ever invite him in there and if she did, would he go.  He stood up and grabbed his hat, “Shep,” he said, “We need to hit the road, maybe we can be there before them.”

    Ed rolled over in the bed and turned off the alarm five minutes before it was due to go off.  Saundra had already started packing things that belonged to Olivia, Goodwill was going to make quite a haul, or Deseret would, either way she was determined to erase all traces of the other woman.  Ed didn’t tell her he hadn’t been through with Olivia and he doubted she’d have listened anyway.  Saundra was the kind of woman who generally got whatever it was she was after.  She pulled up the covers and snuggled inside as Ed got up and grabbed a t-shirt and some jeans and a fresh pair of boxers.

    “What are you doing,” Saundra smiled.

    “I’m going to take a shower,” he replied.  He sat back down on the bed and stroked her blonde hair.  It wasn’t as silky as Olivia’s but then a dye job never was.  “Saundra, I’m catching a plane today to go to Tulsa.”

    Her eyes widened, “Whatever for?”

    “I don’t know,” he said, “That’s what I’m hoping to find out.”

    She rose and whispered in his ear softly, “Let it go Ed.”

    He stroked her breast and whispered back, “Not yet.  I like to do things face to face.”

    Saundra flopped over in the bed and said, “Have it your way.”

    He gathered his clothes and went to the bathroom as she murmured, “You always do.”

    Ed felt the warm water envelop his skin and thought about the contrast between the two women which were few but stark nonetheless.  Olivia wasn’t a fighter, that’s why she walked away and Saundra had no heart but she was ferocious in a way he could respect and identify with.  “To the victor goes the spoils,” he thought, knowing that Saundra wouldn’t want anything Olivia left behind other than him if for no other reason than all of it was another woman’s signature.  Ed could put on a new woman as easily as he could slip into a new suit.  He’d have Saundra mail Olivia some of her favorite things starting with her guns.  She didn’t like handguns but she’d left behind two rifles.  Other than those he decided not to be too specific, it would be fun to watch Saundra try to guess what mattered most to Olivia.  He turned off the water and dried with a beach towel wondering what kind of shelf life it would have and what would be the replacement cost.  “It wasn’t supposed to go this way,” he thought.

    Ed dressed and went to the bedroom to find that Saundra was gone, she didn’t have a key yet so operation erase Olivia would have to be on hold.  He picked up the phone and called the airport.  She was going to Tulsa and he didn’t know how long it would take her to get there so he bought a one way ticket and packed a bag.  He’d play it by ear from there.

    He dialed Saundra’s number.  “You left without saying goodbye.”

    “You won’t be gone long,” she said, “I have nothing but time.”  Something about her saying that made him a little nervous.

    “Do you love me?”  He asked.

    “Give me time to get over my tantrum,” she told him, “A lot of that depends on you.”

    “I’ll call you when I get back,” he told her. 

    She giggled, “Have a safe trip and don’t forget your toothbrush.”  She hung up the phone.  Ed went to pack his toothbrush.

    He checked the weather and was glad to see it would be a nice day.  He loved to fly but he hated turbulence.  “Tulsa is NOT the center of the universe,” he thought, “she’s gone stark raving mad.” 

    Ed snapped his fingers as he thought of a way to save money.  He quickly dialed the phone.  It rang too many times before Angus could answer so he left a message, “Pick me up at the airport in Tulsa around two, I’m flying American.  Don’t mention it to Olivia if you don’t mind.”  He smiled thinking he’d finally get to meet the man he was paying a small fortune to babysit his wife, not to mention, maybe the man she’d been traveling with.  Ed wondered if she was telling the truth about him or if she’d met him before.  Just then he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror on the bureau and frowned at himself, would she have shared their bed with her mister as he had his miss?  He pushed the thought to the back of his mind and packed some socks and a light jacket for the south.  Not long later he was out the door to go find some breakfast, he didn’t want to get on the plane too hungry or too full.


    No sooner had Angus gotten off the phone with Ed than it rang again.  He was thankful for having his phone routed to his speakers in his car.  “What is it darling,” he asked.

    “Ed is going to Tulsa,” Saundra sounded irritated.

    Angus chuckled, “Your parakeet has flown the nest hon?”

    “It’s not funny Angus, I want you to watch him every moment he’s with her.”

    The space between his blue eyes furrowed, “I’ve met the lady Sandy, she’s already made her thinking clear and frankly, my dear, she knows about you already.  In light of all that, I don’t think you have much to worry about.”

    “Wait, what are you saying?” Saundra asked.

    “Nothing, unless you want to pay me what your fella is paying me, otherwise, I know whose payroll I’m on at the moment.”

    “He got your name from ME!”  She yelled.

    “Thank you but I was employed already.  Any other instructions because I really need to be getting on down the road right now, I’m supposed to pick up your intended at the airport in Tulsa and I don’t want to be late.”  Angus couldn’t keep himself from being short with her.

    “No, I suppose not,” she said.  “Just keep an eye on them.”

    “Have a good day Sandy.”

    “Wait!” she said, “Will you tell me when you put him back on the plane?”

    “He’s a big boy Sandy.  If it don’t work out then dust off your little black book and call it a day.  She has.”  He hung up.  Angus didn’t have the patience today.  He turned up Garth Brooks and stepped on the gas.  No one had to warn Shep, he’d learned to listen to the engine.


    Olivia and Alec had eaten breakfast quickly and in silence.  They were two hours down the road when Alec finally said, “You’ve been quiet all morning.”

    “Just like a man,” she smiled wryly, “if you talk too much or are too quiet either one they complain about it.”

    “How was your night then?” He asked.

    “Spontaneous…….dreamy, perfect.”

    Alec tucked in his chin and raised his eyebrows, “Really?!”

    “Really,” she said.  “He’s different when he’s not in uniform.”

    “You two gonna stay in touch?” Alec asked.

    “I don’t know if it would make much sense to.  We’ll be living quite a ways from one another, I’ve been debating whether to call him all morning or not.”

    “Why doesn’t he call you?”  Alec asked.

    She smiled and shrugged, “Maybe he will, did you use my number on that ticket?”

    “No, I don’t have your number and he didn’t ask at the time.  Did he ask you?”

    “I can’t remember.” She angrily tapped the steering wheel, “Why did I have to get so drunk?”

    “Maybe you’d never have met him had you not gotten so drunk,” Alec suggested.

    “Well,” she thought, “that would rule out fate, wouldn’t it?”

    “Not entirely,” Alec said, “but maybe, how do you know if it’s fate, I mean, do you believe there is a grand design?”

    She glanced at him, “Alec, you ask that like you just want to know what I’m going to say but you already have an answer.”

    Alec kept his eyes on the road, “I believe in a grand design, sure.  But I also believe that humans control a lot of things themselves as well, more control than they know.”

    They drove in a comfortable silence for a while then Olivia said, “I think you’re right, I think God gets the blame for things he shouldn’t and doesn’t get the credit when he should and the rest is just a big game of twister for us down here.”

    Alec laughed and Olivia joined in.  “So you gonna call him,” he asked.

    She smiled a whimsical smile, “I think I will, after all, I did ask for his number.”


    Angus drove straight through the day only stopping for gas, finger food, and to let Shep do his business a couple of times.  His app told him he was way ahead of Alec and Olivia but then he’d had an earlier start.  He arrived at the airport early and sat watching the crowd at baggage claim.  There were a lot of brief cases and matching shoes and purses.  “Briefcases,” he chuckled.  Before he parted ways with Olivia he determined he would buy her one and see if she “got” it.  He’d had to leave Shep out in the car with the windows down so he hoped this wouldn’t take too long.  He hadn’t checked the weather but usually planes from that direction had some good tailwinds.

    He was looking at this one couple that didn’t appear to know what they were doing.  They were young and looked harried.  They located their belt and looked anxiously at the window.  Angus considered baggage claim to be the most vulnerable spot in any airport, but then, he’d never worked at one.  There was a long space in front of the couple and then he noticed security was watching them as well.  Finally their bag came through the door, the man walked toward it and picked it up off the belt and security sprang into action.  “Excuse me, sir.”  There was a brief conversation and they were escorted off to never-never land while security took the bag into custody.  Angus felt bad for them, they were young and hadn’t known any better.

    He saw someone approaching him from the corner of his eye.  He sat up straight and looked back at the man.  He was tall, on the slender side and seemed to know who Angus was so Angus stood and offered his hand to the fella.  “Ed, I presume?” 

    Ed shook his hand and ran his other hand through his light brown hair.  “I made reservations, if I can find my luggage we can get out of here.  Are they here yet?”

    Angus fell into step beside him noticing that he didn’t have to shorten his stride for Ed to keep up.  “They still have a little time before they get here, once they do, I don’t know their plans other than some foolish notion about…….”

    “The center of the universe, I know.”  He grabbed a tan bag and a satchel as if he’d been doing it his whole life.  “Where did you park?  We have reservations at the Hyatt, I’d like to get in a workout before I surprise my bride.”

    Shep was wagging his tail as they approached the car.  “You have a dog?”

    Angus shrugged his shoulders, “You never asked.”

    “Would he pass as a service animal?”  Ed asked.

    “He’s smart enough,” Angus said.

    Ed got into the back seat of the sedan, “Find a medical supply store, they’ll never let him in as a pet.”

    They got Shep outfitted in his service dog uniform and he seemed to take it in stride.  They still downgraded the room at the Hyatt though, but Angus kind of liked the idea of being pool side.  Ed grabbed his workout gear and went to do whatever he did in a gym.  Angus ordered a shrimp dinner with a baked potato and a hot dog on the side for Shep.  He wondered how Olivia was going to take Ed being in Tulsa.  He checked his app, they were just pulling into town, he’d find out soon enough.


    Ed was working out in the gym, wondering about his options.  He loved Olivia but Saundra had possibilities, and they were endless, at least they were if he played his cards right.  There weren’t many others in the room but he did notice a middle aged man who seemed to have been watching him.  He hoped this wasn’t a gay parade thing, in the past he’d been a magnet for people like that.  Then the man smiled.  He didn’t recognize the man, but he recognized the teeth and tension fell on his whole demeanor.  He knew the man wouldn’t recognize his own teeth, they were there to tell people like Ed a backstory so they wouldn’t have to ask and Ed now knew that Jimmi was deceased, for real this time.  It was a subsection of his life he didn’t like to deal with but here and there, it was unavoidable.  He wondered why the man was there, why the man seemed to recognize him when he’d never seen the man before.  Olivia was clean, it wasn’t about her.  He cussed under his breath as he started a new set of repetitions.  The smile grew wider as the man glanced away and then back again.  He rose from his bench and strolled over.

    “You have the time?”  He asked.

    “Not on me,” Ed replied.

    “Thanks anyway cool breeze,” the man said as he strolled out the door, still smiling.

    “Cool breeze” was one of Ed’s references, how did the man know it?  It wasn’t a compliment but it wasn’t a slight either.  Sadness fell over him as he thought about Jimmi, it had seemed like centuries since he’d last seen him.  He wondered what had happened but he knew he’d never know.  “Let the dead bury their dead,” came to mind.  It was a Bible reference, something Olivia had taught him.  How was he going to handle this meeting with her, how did he want it to end?  “To my advantage if possible,” he thought.  He gathered his things and went back to the room to shower.

    Ed wasn’t in a hurry to go back to the room so he went to the bar and set his bag down inside the door as he made his way through the dimly lit room to the only seat that faced the door.  He ordered a sloe gin fiz.  He knew it was a woman’s drink but if he had the right bartender, they would understand the significance.  He scanned the room, the man was there and tilted his drink in Ed’s direction in recognition of him.  Ed tilted his drink back and the man rose and crossed the room and took a seat two seats down.  Neither man said anything and Ed felt apprehension again as the man smiled.

    Finally the man spoke, “You on a business trip?”

    “Personal business,” Ed replied.  The man nodded and sipped whatever clear liquid it was he had ordered.  He offered Ed a cigarette, which Ed declined, he detested the habit.

    “Traveling alone?”  The man asked and smiled.

    “I don’t mean to be rude,” Ed replied, “but you are asking some really personal questions.  Do I know you?”

    The man shrugged, “My apologies, you see, I am traveling alone and I suppose I thought I was just making small talk.”

    “I’m in town to meet my wife.”  The man grinned, his eyes sparked, but they weren’t grinning.

    “You weren’t traveling together?”  He asked without smiling.

    “No,” Ed finished his drink, “Now if you don’t mind I need to be going.”  He forced himself to leave the bar in the same manner he’d entered, with deliberation.