The Good Doctor 69
This was the first day that I had been showing Mark around the business. He was picking it up with irritating quickness. I hate that. Why can’t he just pretend it’s difficult? Even Jane and Ellen seem to like him although maybe they were doing that to get to me.
When I got home there was a car parked outside and when I got into the kitchen I realized that it belonged to my mom’s attorney, Morris Shapiro. My mother was force feeding him Italian food. She was hovering over him with a ladle of extra red sauce while he struggled with trying to eat a huge plate of pasta and meatballs.
“Morrie, you want more sauce?” He’s beginning to sweat but nodded yes with a napkin pressed to his mouth. Morrie is small and old, even smaller than me but a lot older, like seventy. His law firm is Shapiro and Associates. The associates are his granddaughter Claire who just graduated from Yale Law and his wife Sadie who keeps the books and acts as Morrie’s secretary. He’s been my mom’s lawyer for as long as I can remember. He can eat like a horse and he intimidates me.
She spots me coming in through the garage. “Eric, come and sit down. Morrie’s here and we’re going over the contracts. He’s making little changes.” What does that really mean?
Morrie tries to stand up and shake my hand while he’s still eating and it ends up in him lifting his butt a little bit off of the chair and waving with one hand while the other hand held a fork aloft with a meatball on it.
My mother has been rummaging in the refrigerator and comes out of it with a huge Tupperware container.
“Morrie, I made sauce and meatballs for Sadie. Tell her it’s all beef so not to worry. But I gotta have my Tupperware back.”
Morrie finally swallows and wipes his mouth. “She’ll be very grateful, Helen and I’ll tell her about the Tupperware.”
“Morrie, I understand that this Rainer guy is using Hammer, Hammer, Putz and Lorimer from Boston. You gonna be able to handle them? They’re supposed to be the best.”
“Hellen, thirty years ago Teddy Putz used to be my intern…and believe me, whoever named him knew from where they were talking. I dunno about handling them but I can protect you like I’ve done for the last thirty years.” Well that’s certainly true. Morrie is my mom’s secret weapon.
“Oh and by the way, if you don’t want to put up the full two million or even any of it I got a lender that’s awash in cash.”
My mother sat down at the table and put on her reading glasses. “I don’t want to borrow the down payment, Morrie. Too much borrowing makes me nervous, it’s bad enough that we gotta borrow the rest. Besides I sold some houses and I gotta do something.” She held out her hand to him. “Lemme see the draft of the contract.”
Morrie handed her the contract and said, “Well, I’ve been over the figures and this looks very good, very good indeed.”
He looked over the tops of his little glasses at me. “Eric, your mother tells me that you’re going to be the manager.” What the hell kind of a crack is that?
“Ahhh, yeah, I guess so, Mr. Shapiro.”
He reached over and patted the back of my hand. “Well, just be sure to keep an eye on expenses.”
“Yes, Sir.” Why should I care what this guy thinks?
My mother looks up at me and says, “Eric, why don’t you see if you can find Jase. Pete’ll be home soon and you can eat.” Thank God!
I was kneeling by the side of the bathtub when Jase said, “Dad, how come you’re giving me a bath? It’s really early.” He was sitting in a tub full of warm soapy water. I love seeing him like this because he looks even more like a little boy than he normally does and it doesn’t feel quite so much like he’s growing up.
“Ahhh, well, it’s gotta be done eventually. Besides, I don’t like hangin around with your grandma’s lawyer. He makes me nervous.” I looked around. “No ducks?”
“How come you got no ducks?”
Jase pointed with a skinny arm at the cabinet. “Grandma put em in there.”
I opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a bag full of rubber ducks. I raised an eyebrow at Jase. “Got a favorite?”
Jase pointed at the biggest duck. “The blue and white one.”
“I used to have a rubber dinosaur when I was a kid.”
Jase smiled and his eyes twinkled. “They had rubber when you were a little boy?”
I squeezed a sponge full of warm soapy water over his head. “Yeah, smartass, they did! I wonder where grandma keeps the shampoo that really stings?”
But instead I put a dab of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo on my hands and started to massage it into his hair. Jase’s got like magic hair, like hair that’s other worldly. He’s magic himself so maybe that’s why his hair is too. I love touching him. It’s like its proof that he’s real and that he’s okay because I can feel him in my hands.
“Dad are we gonna start goin to that new gym for swimming?”
I took the wash cloth and scrubbed his back. “Your grandma is buying the new gym. Then I’m gonna work there so we’ll be able to swim there any time we want.”
“Grandma’s buying it?”
“Well, technically your grandma, Pete and me are buying it. And we were kinda thinking that maybe David could work there part time. But I dunno, maybe you shouldn’t mention that until it’s all decided.”
“Can I work there too?”
I handed him a sudsy wash cloth. “Do your butt.”
While he was working on that I said, “You’re too young to work. But you can visit me a lot. Why, you need money?”
“No, it’d just be cool to work.” Where the hell did he get that idea?
“No need for you to be worrying about work. There’s lots of time for that. Just concentrate on being a little boy.”
“I don’t gotta concentrate on that cause I already am one.”
I laughed. “That’s true.”
Jase was holding his penis with one hand and washing it with the other. It looked like it oughta hurt. “Dad, why do boys have a penis?” I been waiting for this one.
“So they can pee…mostly…and some other stuff.”
“But girls don’t……..” Suddenly Pete poked his head in. Jase yelled, “Hi Pete, I’m getting a bath!”
Pete’s smile lit the place up. “Hi guys! How come such an early bath?”
“Dad’s hidin from Mr. Shapiro!” Oh fer cryin out loud! What a little blabber mouth!
“I’m not hiding! Jase, where’d you get that idea?”
“You told me, Dad!”
“No I…well…...it doesn’t matter anyway.” I looked up at Pete. “So’s he still out there?”
Pete grinned and shook his head. “Just left. Your mom’s out there though. Want me to smuggle you outta the house? You could hide out in a motel!” Everybody’s a comedian!
Suddenly my mother appeared in the doorway. “Eric, what are you doing? I thought you disappeared or something! Why is Jason having his bath at four-thirty?” Do these people have Jase’s bath time marked on a calendar or something?
“Ma, he wanted his bath now so he wouldn’t miss his favorite TV program!” A lie. But in my defense I had to think fast, like usual.
She didn’t believe me. “What’s his favorite program?”
“Big Brother!” I hope that’s actually the name of a program and not a song or a movie or some fucking thing but the guys in the warehouse were talking about it.
My mom said, “He’s not watching, Big Brother! You’re making that up!” She dismissed us with a wave of her hand. “You boys go eat, I’ll take care of Jason.”
Pete and I had just finished our salads and were starting on the pasta when Jase and my mom got back to the kitchen.
She said, “Pete, didn’t you tell me that Rainer had already hired some people for the club?”
Pete said, “Oh gosh yes! We need to talk about that. I know we haven’t tied up every little detail yet but I don’t see any problems and we need to be talking to those people. I’ll get Rainer to set up meetings with them at the club, one at a time.” He looked at me. “You’ll have to handle that, Eric.” Oh, yeah, I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do.
Jase came over and leaned against me. “Can I go with you to the gym?”
I picked up a meatball covered in red sauce in my fingers and grinned at him. “Take a bite.” Little boys love this because it’s so messy. His eyes danced and he chomped down barely missing the tips of my fingers and spreading red sauce all over his face. My mother howled in protest.
Pete grinned and shook his head. My mother yelled, “Eric!! Will you stop doing that! You’re gonna teach him to be a slob!” In a way it was a perfect father and son moment, two little boys playing.
You could maybe argue that the best part about sex is when it’s just over. My head was snuggled into Pete’s lightly sweaty chest and I extended my tongue and licked.
He laughed and said very softly, “Why do you do that?”
I sighed contentedly and mumbled, “You taste good.”
I said tentatively, “So, you gonna call Lionel?”
He made a noise that was somewhere between a growl and a moan.
I tilted my head, looked at him and grinned. “Well as long as you’re thinking about it.”
He said with exasperation, “Eric, it’s his place to call me! He’s the one who caused all that shit. You know, if he’d been a stranger to me I’d have just punched him in the mouth and that’d been the end of it. But with my best friend I was defenseless. There was no way that I could do that to him and he took advantage of it.”
“Okay, you convinced me, don’t get mad.”
He closed his teeth delicately over my ear and mumbled, “I’m not mad.”
I giggled, “How come you’re eating my ear?”
“You taste good too.”
I snuggled deeper into his chest. “Eat away.”
“Eric, if I can set up a meeting for tomorrow with those employees, can you do it?” Oh shit! Why is he thinking about that now? It’s not like I can really say no. I mean it is what the job’s all about.
“You’re not supposed to thinking about work stuff. You’re supposed to be nibbling on my ear.”
“But you can do it, right?”
“I s’pose. I guess at the club’d be best. You still got a key?”
He sat up. “Yeah…and I got the security code on a slip of paper. I’ll get it.” He climbed over me and went over to the dresser.
I yelled, “You don’t need to get it this minute!”
“No, it’s okay.” He walked back and showed me the key and the paper. The thing is that a naked Pete is quite a sight…especially when he’s been recently horny.
I reached out slowly and wrapped my fingers around his warm thick cock and didn’t come near to holding all of it. I looked up into his eyes.
He looked down at me for a moment and then said, “What? Again!?”
Jase and I walked up the stairs to the impressive front doors of the club. While I was digging around for the key Jase said, “What if I gotta go to the bathroom?”
“Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
“No but what if I gotta?”
“There’s bathrooms, Jase.”
He looked worried. “Will you come with?”
“Sure.” I almost told him that the place wasn’t haunted so he didn’t have to worry but I learned the hard way that it’s a mistake to plant that in a kids mind. And just as I inserted the key in the lock a silver SUV drove up and a tall woman with blond hair got out and waved.
She yelled in a strong voice, “I sure hope that you’re Mr. Cortland!”
She held out her hand as she approached us and I stepped forward and grasped it. I said, “I’m Eric Cortland and you must be Vicky.”
She nodded, grinned and then knelt down in front of Jase. “This handsome young man has got to be your son.” Jase looked up at me like he wasn’t sure how to answer that but then he nodded yes.
I smiled and said, “Actually he was walking by the side of the road and I gave him a ride.”
Jase yelled, “No dad!”
Vicky said to him softly, “I think that you may be the best looking little boy that I’ve ever seen.”
I could practically see Jase’s eyes twirling but then he pointed at me and said, “My dad says I look like him.”
She touched his hair with the tips of her fingers and said softly, “Yes, you do.”
Vicky looked at me and said, “This has gotta be the button.”
I shrugged. “We got nothing to lose.”
She pushed the button and only seconds later coffee began dropping down into the carafe.
We looked at each other and smiled. A victory. We were in the kitchen of the refreshment bar stumbling around trying to make coffee. Her name is Vicky Brozniak and unless I fire her she’s the Assistant Manager of The Connecticut Racquet and Athletic Club. I have her personnel file along with several others under my right arm.
She looks to be in her mid to late forties with blondish hair running slightly to gray. Her posture is very good and she seems so normal. I’m really not used to that.
We sat down at one of the tables. In the background were the sounds of the other people getting the place ready to open in a few days.
“We gonna be ready for the opening?”
She nodded. “Not every wrinkle ironed out but most of em. Rainer used a great contractor to build this place so the physical plant is excellent. Even the hardware on the doors is the best.” She opened a spiral bound notebook. “I’ve got four part-timers lined up for the front desk. They’re coming in for training tomorrow. I got em from the local college, they’re all phys ed majors and they all seem pretty responsible. The front desk is vital because every member who comes here will be exposed to it every time. They’ve gotta show their membership card to get in and the people on that desk need to be personable and remember folks. It’s a big deal in this business for people to remember a members name and what locker he or she likes to use.”
“A lot of the members will be older and that personal treatment is even more important to them. Maybe you’ve seen it with the club you belong to now but a lot of the older members only do enough exercise to be able to say that they work out. Mostly they’re here for the fellowship, some place to sit and gossip with their friends. That’s why this refreshment bar can be a gold mine. Do you know who your mom got for the place?”
“My mom? She got someone to run the refreshment bar?”
“Well yeah. She stopped by yesterday when I was here and told me not to worry about it, that she had someone. She sounded certain.” Oh geez! I hope she didn’t hire like Quasimoto or something and why didn’t she tell me.
“I haven’t seen her but if she said she did then I’m sure she did. I’ll check with her later today and let you know.” What is that woman doing to me?
I said, “So how long have you been involved with health clubs?”
She waved her hand. “Lord…forever. My husband and I, we’re divorced now, we started one right after we got married. He was a weight lifter. That didn’t work out but I went right to work for another huge health club. There’s a lot to know about it. There’s also a fair amount of selling involved, memberships and clothes and equipment, lot’s of things and we pay commission. Unless you want to change it. I wouldn’t recommend it though, the system really works well.”
I shook my head. “If it works let’s keep it.”
“The pros also make money giving lessons. The house also gets part of that. There’s lots of sources of income. Lot’s of add on things. And your tennis pro, Will, is first rate, believe me, he’ll bring people in.”
I looked at my watch. “I got a meeting with him in an hour and then the other guy, Vic, who’s gonna run the pro shop.”
She gave me an odd look and said, “That’s Victor, well everyone calls him Vic. Good at what he does but maybe a little intense.” She nodded in the direction of the offices. “Did you find your office?”
I shook my head. “I didn’t look.”
“I hope it’s okay but I took one of the offices. It’s right next to the one I figured you’d want but if you want to trade it’s up to you. There’s also an office for Will, he’ll need one and then there’s a couple of desks behind the front desk for the other pros. Usually the guy that runs the pro shop has his office actually in the pro shop itself so we don’t have to worry about Vic.”
I got up. “Let’s take a look.”