Protecting David-Christopher Grows Up 22
Oliver said, "Dad, (we didn't tell him to call us Dad, he had just finished asking us if he could … an idea that may have been seeded by the twins … and it did sound good) maybe I should wait a little longer before I start school."
I was sitting in a big overstuffed chair working on my laptop, while Nick lay on the sofa watching television. Oliver had wiggled in between me and the laptop and sat on my lap. Puppy sat on the floor, and stared impatiently at Oliver for attention.
"Oliver, nobody wants to start school. I used to hate it." I stopped and thought for a second, then added, "Well, maybe the football players liked it."
He said, "The football players liked it?"
I decided to start being careful; no point in implanting negative ideas. "Well, the people that play sports are usually getting back together with their friends, doing stuff they like to do."
After a moment of silence, Oliver said, "What if I don't remember my new last name?"
We had talked to the dean of the school, and he thought Oliver should start using his new last name right off the bat, even though we were not anywhere near done with the lawyers and courts. He argued that if Oliver had to change it in a month or two, it would attract more attention. Then that created a whole other discussion about names. In the end, we decided on what I wished I had done when I was adopted and used Alex's last name, Chauvet-Kerry. For one thing, pretty much everyone figured that was my last name anyway, and secondly, because the name carried weight. I was pretty sure people would be less inclined to fuck with him if he had my dad's last name, and Nick said that as far as he was concerned, one last name was pretty much the same as another.
I said, "You got a wallet?"
He shook his head. "I got nothin to put in a wallet."
I twisted around and pulled the little boy wallet I’d bought him out of the table next to my chair. As I was taking it out of its box, the memories of my dad doing the same thing for me made my breath catch.
I took a moment, then said, "I figured, so I bought you one."
I flipped open the wallet and pulled things out one at a time. “Okay, this is an ID card. It tells people that you are an actual resident, and that you are who you say you are.”
This next card is proof that you've got lots of health insurance. I showed it to him and said, "Anybody asks about health insurance, you show ‘em that."
"That's not too confusing, is it?"
Oliver shook his head.
"I got three dollars, can I put it in my wallet?"
"Where'd you get three bucks?" Oliver never mentioned money, but then a five-year-old kid doesn't need money much.
"From before. I still got it from before."
It occurred to me that he meant Florida, and I didn't want to go too far into that.
"Cool. Here, gimme your three bucks and we'll put it in; then said, I’ve got some cash too."
I lifted my butt up a bit, shoved my hand in the pocket of my pants and came up with one ten-dollar bill. We live in a cashless world.
Then I called to Nick, "You got any money? You know, cash?"
Nick came up with thirty-two dollars and brought it over. "Does this help?"
I took the money and said, "Oliver's emergency fund." I smiled at Nick. "Between the two of us, we’ve got forty-two bucks."
Nick looked at Oliver and said, "You know that you can call me if there's any problem, right?"
Oliver nodded. "I got the number."
Then he sighed and said, "What if nobody likes me?"
Nick quickly knelt down next to him and said, "Oliver, you're gonna have all kinds of friends. You're a very likable boy."
The next day I took Oliver to school and reluctantly turned him over to the Dean, who told me that he always escorted the new kids to their first class. I knew it wouldn't be easy onOliver, but it would only have to be done once.
Before I left, Oliver looked up at me and said, "It'll be okay." Considering what he had been through, this maybe didn’t seem so bad.
In the car, I said to Jeff, "You got somebody close?"
Jeff said, “The school parking lot is fenced and locked down; so we couldn’t be there, but I got a guy just down the road.”
At the office, Jack greeted me as I walked in.
"Henry Casteel is meeting with the mayor and most of the city council today. He'll be pushing to get the changes we need from the city."
I said, "Will he get them?"
"Knowing Henry, probably. Plus, we've got a ton of lawyers pushing for the same things."
"Any word on the Burlington Fastener thing?"
"Jamie Billings is there today. He's meeting with the founder and his attorney."
I said, "Jamie's good. A big plus is that he doesn't irritate people." I smiled. "Surprisingly, not all lawyers are like that."
Jack, a former operations manager for a law firm, just grinned and said, "They are a misunderstood lot." I remembered Alex saying once that lawyers were the horniest men on the planet. He didn’t say so, but I figured that probably included Larry. At least Larry did have that look - a predator all the way.
Gavin caught up to me on the way to my office, told me that George was waiting for me, and that Michael had called wondering what was happening with the Burlington Fastener deal.
I told Gavin, “Call Michael and tell him that Jamie is meeting with the founder; when I hear something I’ll call him. Oh, and call Mrs. Crowley at the farm, and tell her how much I appreciated the work she did over the holidays. Send her some flowers and sign my name."
Gavin said, "I'll take care of it. Is that something you'd like to do in similar situations? You know, follow up with flowers or candy or something. It can be very effective; and if you want me to, I can do it automatically or always check with you."
I said, "For the moment, check with me. Then later, when we know we're both on the same page, we can automate it."
"Also, my brothers are looking for an apartment downtown near the college. We've got a building about ten blocks south of it. See if there's anything empty in it; if there is, call Andrew and arrange for him to go see it. If everything comes together … don't talk to them about rent, just have it billed to their trust. Send it to Carlementi in Denver.”
Frankly, I wasn't sure about the apartment, or rather I wasn't sure about them. My gut hunch was that this love affair might not last. Mainly, I wasn't convinced about Aiden's sexuality. Over the years I had seen indications that Aiden was mostly straight, but I had also seen a lot of things that said Andrew could talk him into anything. My current guess was that Andrew was about eighty percent gay, and that Aiden about thirty percent gay; but Andrew could sway him. I figured that staying out of it was the best thing to do. However, normal human logic sometimes doesn’t seem to apply to the twins.
When I walked into my secretary's office, George was sitting there writing on a yellow legal pad. After talking for half an hour, we dragged in Jack and Steve, who was our legal guy.
We briefed them on our conversation about the new medical buildings and the way we were planning to go with them.
"Jack, you and Steve need to figure out the best structure for the construction management company; and the best way to hold these properties during the construction and once they're built. Carlementi in Denver has experience with this sort of thing. I think it'd be best to start there.”
On their way out, I said, "Jack, do you know Didier Rouseau?"
He shook his head and said, "Never heard of him. Should I have?"
I shrugged. "No, he's the managing director of The Bank Haussman in Salzburg."
He gave me a questioning look. So I said, "His son Luc may call for an appointment, or for that matter, may just show up here. Didier is a friend of my dad, and a business partner of my grandfather and my dad. Luc's mother lives here, somewhere north of the city; they're divorced and the kid has been going to USC in L.A..
I waved my hand and said, "Just keep it in mind… he'll probably call me direct."
In the end, we spent a few more hours working on the medical buildings, and we ended up with six people in my office hashing out details.
At two-thirty, I looked at my watch and said, "I gotta go. Jack, send my dad and my grandfather some idea of what we've talked about - something written. And send it to Connie and Joan, they'll take it from there. I gotta pick up Oliver.
When I got in the car, Jeff looked at me, smiled and said, "We've got plenty of time, and even if we didn't, my guys would never let anything happen to him." Jeff always seems to know what I'm thinking.
I grinned and shook my head. "I know, it's just...I dunno, baked in I guess."
He grinned back at me. "You're gonna be a good dad."
I said, "You like being a dad?"
He sighed and said, "Like you couldn't tell?"
I worry about Jeff somehow getting hurt defending me from some threat. We don't even know of any such mystery threat, but I think about how terrible I'd feel if he got hurt ... crazy, I know.
Oliver didn't stop talking from the second he got into the car until he got out of it at home, and then he barely stopped talking for the rest of the evening. I think I was mostly just staring at him, because this was new for him. It occurred to me that it was his first day of being with people his own age; and in some ways, the first day of the rest of his life.
We walked into the kitchen and on one of the counters was a large platter of freshly made cookies, left by the lady who comes and cooks for us. We really never see her much, but she leaves food on or in the stove ready to be eaten. Tonight, at Nick's request, it was meatloaf with mashed potatoes. It smelled wonderful.
I handed him a cookie and said, "Just one, we'll be eating as soon as Nick gets home."
He took the cookie, but looked at me in disbelieve and said, "One?"
I sighed and said, "Okay, I'll split another one with you, and you can have lots more after dinner. I just don't want you so stuffed with cookies you won't eat dinner."
He smiled at me and said, "I could eat ten of em and still have dinner!"
I shook my head. "I don't think so."
Puppy was staring up expectantly at Oliver, and I said, "Watch your dogor he'll be eating your cookies."
When Nick got home, Oliver was all over him, including climbing on top of him after dinner and explaining in detail the happenings of the day.
Although Nick hasn't said anything about it. I've noticed that he's stopped bringing home the masses of work that he used to in the evenings, and is devoting that time to Oliver.
I do some work at home in the evenings, but nothing on the order of what Nick used to do. Tonight it was just emails. One of them was an email from Eli, who told us the auction we were interested in Hong Kong had happened last evening, and that we got six of the things we were interested in.
I said to Nick, “We got six pieces of the porcelain.”
“The auction in Hong Kong … we got some of the pieces.” He looked perplexed, then said, “You mean the vases and dishes and stuff?” Clearly Nick didn’t completely share my feeling about Chinese porcelain.
“Yeah, three vases, two bowls, and a brush washer.” He was trying to look alert, but I knew I had lost him at vases.
I added, “You remember that big reddish colored vase?” He nodded. “Well, that stuff.”
He smiled and said, “Great. Expensive?”
I shook my head. “Not bad.” He knew I was lying, but it was kinda what we did with stuff like this. Of course, he didn’t know to what extent I was lying.