(Last week: Chartan realizes he will have to return to limo driving to pay for his son’s birth while Brazil faces a deadline for deciding if he will join Riley’s group.)
Chartan’s footsteps echoed on the cold, hard concrete floor. The man behind the counter looked up from a pile of papers. “Chartan, il padre !,” he said with a smile.
“Hi, boss. I’m back with the limo—how much do I owe?”
“No charge. Now are you going to drive more for me now that you have a baby to feed?”
Chartan had rehearsed a response on the drive to Sloan’s Limousine Service. He almost closed his eyes when he said, “I need to increase my income, so, if there are more opportunities to drive, I will.”
“Great. My clients like you and I like you.” Sloan put his elbows on the counter and asked, “Are you still teaching that class?”
“No, I’ve stopped.”
“Good, I thought it was a little weird?”
“You’re not offended are you?”
Chartan knew a defining moment lay ahead. He took his life restoration classes seriously, but he needed to stay on Sloan’s good side more than he needed to protect his ego.
“My class wasn’t for everyone. Now I just want to drive.”
“Good, I have a fare for you tomorrow afternoon. A wedding party with a full bar. Be at St. Mary’s at 2 p.m., sharp, okay?”
“2 p.m. sharp.”
“I’ve got something for you.” Sloan disappeared for a few minutes in a back room. He returned with a garment bag. “This particular job requires a tuxedo—this should fit.”
Chartan took the bag and muttered thanks.
“Pick the limo up at 1 p.m.—I’ll have it washed for you.”
“Yeah, but don’t worry, I’ve padded the fee to cover the tux, the wash job and a $20 tip for you.”
Chartan said “thanks” and left. When the front door closed behind him, he thought: I’m not a fan of money even though I need it. He shrugged his shoulders and took off for the mile walk back to the apartment with Gina and their newborn.
Brazil knocked on Julie’s front door. In two hours he was supposed to phone Riley with a decision. He wished that somehow Julie could make the decision easier.
“My husband, at last,” she said in the doorway, dressed in ripped jeans a thin white t-shirt.
“Sorry, I’ve been busy,” he said.
“Come in and don’t be a stranger—haven’t seen you in two days.”
He looked at her closely. They embraced for a few minutes before going to the bedroom.
When he finally saw the clock on the nightstand, it was 30 minutes past the call deadline. He sat on the edge of the bed, his back to his wife.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
“It was okay, wasn’t it?”
He turned to her. “It was more than okay.”
To be continued next Sunday…