She was quite beautiful Jacob thought to himself. As a matter of fact, the lovely brunette rivaled even his infamous girl next door Sheryl. Her skin was wonderfully tanned as Jacob was treated to a vivid and perfect display of cleavage, which dared all whom gazed upon the young lady not to look at least once…or twice. She was as tall as she was busty, her legs extending far into the office walkway, crossed and very lady like. She wasn’t a flashy crimson red oh no, her lips were a canvas for a much darker burgundy. They glistened, wet but dry, like a finely aged merlot. Jacob peered down at her waistline with his eyes as he traced the curve of her hips all the way down to her legs. For a moment as he sat completely captivated, he had nearly forgotten why he was there. What a wonderfully beautiful distraction.
“Did you lose something or are you just basically checking out my ass in this seat? You know this skirt soooo fits me well and I could stand up if you want.” As she spoke, Jacob sat speechless, his heart nearly in his throat as he searched for a recovery response. The two men chuckled looking back at Jacob while whispering amongst themselves. With both his mouth and arms wide open in a pleading manner, the young lady decided to rescue poor Jacob from his momentary torture. “Don’t be so serious I was just kidding. Hi I’m Rebecca.” As she extended her hand toward Jacob, his blank expression had now changed into an uneasy smile. As he gently shook her hand, he couldn’t help but wonder if she was joking or actually knew that, that was exactly what he was doing. Either way for the moment, he had been let off the hook.
“Mr. Parnell it’s been a long time, how are you?” asked Dr. Kendal catching the two in mid handshake. “I see you’ve met Rebecca. Be careful with that hand; it may save a life or two one day. Go ahead inside room 120; I will be in shortly.” Jacob stood up and went straight into the examining room making sure he didn’t look back at Rebecca. Releasing a long sigh of relief, he sat on a stool and waited. His body was still warm from the awkward moment as he could feel small beads of sweat about his forehead. Even they seemed to laugh at him before being cleared away as Jacob tried to compose himself.
“So, where’s the fire Jake?” asked Dr. Kendal. “When I spoke with you earlier, for a minute you sounded as if you were going to die.”
“You have no idea,” replied Jacob.
“What? Am I missing something Mr. Parnell?” Dr. Kendal’s voice had become very uneasy.
“Uh, nothing I’m just under a tremendous amount of stress, that’s all. I want to be tested for everything, from cancer to STDs ok?” Now the doctor’s expression had changed as well.
“Jacob those tests could take hours and the results even longer. Listen, let me go ahead and take care of Rebecca first. Quiet as kept she is only here for a routine check-up required by her new job. That will give me the rest of the day for us to handle your dilemma, whatever it is.” The doctor looked down at Jacob waiting for a reply. Finally, as if snapping back to reality Jacob nodded.
His thoughts were on Rebecca as well and curiosity was starting to get the best of him. He wanted to know, he just had to know, and there was only one way to find out. He got up and went back to claim his seat outside of the examining room. Twittle Dee and Dum had left for reasons unknown and now it was just the two of them. Good, thought Jacob, now he could be at least only 80 percent of a nervous wreck. He looked at Rebecca as he inadvertently let a smile escape before speaking.
“So, what is it that you do exactly?” he asked.
“Funny you should ask. Actually, I’m about to start a new job as—”
“Rebecca can I see you for a moment? It’s regarding your paperwork,” interrupted Dr. Kendal from across the hall.
“Gimme just a sec,” she said to Jacob as she got up and placed her hand upon his leg giving it a pat before walking away.
Now was his chance! He nervously grabbed the watch form his pocket and placed it on his wrist. Again, it happened and just as before, but she was too far away, he couldn’t see. Jacob stood slowly reaching in his pocket for his handy calculator as he snuck closer to the two conversing adults finally capturing a brief view. “Fuck!” he exclaimed aloud. He had left it. At that moment the conversation ceased, and all attention was on Jacob.
“Is everything alright?” asked Dr. Kendal. Jacob just nodded placing his hand up and slowly returning to his seat. He couldn’t calculate in his head what he’d seen but he had memorized the important numbers and knew for certain that there should have been more, many more. He’d not needed a calculator to know that Rebecca was going to have her health fail too and even before his own! Jacob took off the watch and sat down again rocking back and forward in his seat. Rebecca returned smiling holding a manila folder as she walked passed Jacob and into the same room he’d been in previously. As the door shut, Jacob immediately got up and walked across the hall to the nurses’ station. As he passed Dr. Kendal, he smiled and nodded as if reassuring the doctor that he was fine for the moment. “Hi, I was wondering if you had a calculator nearby?” asked Jacob. The nurse nodded as she went under her desk grabbing what would seem to be a small laptop. Nope, it was a calculator alright, with numbered buttons that would rival pop tarts in size. For a moment Jacob didn’t know whether he was about to perform a mathematical equation or play a game of Simon. The nurse shrugged her shoulders as Jacob kept shaking his head at the sheer and ridiculous size of the thing. With several punches of the monster buttons Jacob thanked the nurse finally and returned to the waiting area. He sat looking toward the sky as he whispered numbers to himself first fast, then slowly before halting altogether. “Two weeks? No, oh my god I have to do something, I have to tell her!” he said aloud. “Tell her Jacob? She’s gonna say I’m nuts and get a restraining order. What then?” Jacob caught himself and decided to keep his thoughts silent as not to alert the two who were now coming out of the room.
“Alright Jacob you can go ahead and have a seat in the room and I will be with you shortly.” Jacob nodded at the doctor, got up, and entered the room. He paced the small floor numerous times biting his nails wondering what he could do. She seemed like such a nice girl, undeserving of whatever ill fate destiny had lunged her way. It was his responsibility knowing what he did to act and do something, he thought to himself. Jacob finally stopped frozen for a moment before running to open the door. He slowly peered out of the examining room and looked at the outside of the door. In a small receptacle he could see two manila folders. He didn’t have much time as Dr. Kendal not too far away discussed something further at the nurse’s station with Rebecca. Without giving a second thought, he grabbed both folders and slid back into the room. He fumbled through a couple of pages before finding what he needed. “533 W. Parkview,” he whispered as he neatly reorganized the documents and returned them back outside. Before he could sit back down, there was a knock at the door. Startled to all hell, Jacob opened the door revealing the least expected, Rebecca.
“Aww,” she started while sticking out her lip in a pouting manner. “I was hoping you’d changed into the cute little examining gown with the booty out. Then we would have at least been even.” With that she gave a smart-alecky grin and walked away switching her behind purposely, as a going away treat for Jacob. With the door still open, Dr. Kendal appeared in what seemed to be out of nowhere and stepped into the room with Jacob.
“I wouldn’t look too much into that, Rebecca is a bit of a flirt…and a good one,” groaned Dr. Kendal while reading Jacob’s file over.
“Is she married?” Jacob inquired excitedly.
“Let’s just say she might as well be,” replied Kendal.
Since the move, Dr. Kendal had become Jacob’s trusted physician of choice and good friend. He is renowned for his ability to peer at you above his glasses when he thinks dishonesty is in the air. His salt and peppered hair tells the story of an experienced man and when dealing with his patients, he has very little tolerance for the misleading. He likes to get to the root of problems quickly, giving h
is recommendations and treatments a greater chance of success.
“So, let’s see here. Luckily the majority of the procedures you requested can be performed at this facility. But like I said before, be ready to spend the rest of your day here being poked and prodded like a lab rat.” As he spoke, Dr. Kendal peered down at Jacob from over his eye glasses as Jacob smiled at the quaint joke nodding in agreement once more.
And so, for the next six grueling hours Jacob took blood tests, cultures, X-rays, and even finally a CAT-scan for good measure. Unfortunately, to his dismay, nothing even hinted at the slightest to what would cause his untimely death. Sometime later, Dr. Kendal entered the room once more, only to find Jacob asleep on the examining bed.
“Jacob, I’m most pleased to say that, aside a bit of a rise in your blood pressure—you’re fit as a fiddle. Well this is it for me. I have to go home and get some rest, been on call all week. I’d advise you to do the same. You have a couple more tests that are not in the immediate result category but if anything comes up out of the ordinary I will be sure to contact you asap.” Jacob took a deep breath, which broke into a slight yawn. It was sheer disappointment, the not knowing how or if at all he would see his end. At least if he knew, he could work on reversing the process just as he’d saved the young man.
As Jacob left the office, night had once again found its way over the city streets. He’d not go home just yet though. There was a place he must visit first, a place he hadn’t seen for some time.
With his thoughts tightly bundled, Jacob made his way to the city’s lakefront. He stumbled down a familiar path to his “secret location” and sat down on a large rock near the roaring waves. It was just as he remembered. The air had the all familiar smell of the lake water, and peace was abundant. A gentle mist welcomed Jacob as the water threw itself helplessly against the stones and the wind grew heavy. There was nothing here, no hustle of the morning, no horns blaring, no people, no worries, and most of all…no numbers. The wind continued across Jacob’s face fierce at first grabbing his attention but then gentle like, a hand…her hand, gently caressing his face. He placed his hand upon what would be hers closing his eyes and breathing heavily. For a moment, Jacob gave way to insanity as he felt his wife’s presence once more. He was almost certain she was there sitting with him and as the wind continued, even hear her whispering softly into his ear.
And now, once again it would come as expected. First the warmth and burning in his chest, followed by the thickening of his saliva and the forever painful lump that knotted in his throat. It was useless to resist and why should he? It still hurt. And so, for what would seem like the millionth time in his life, Jacob set himself free… as he wept. “I miss you so much,” he said softly as he spoke into the emptiness next to him. “I miss you so, so much….”
The next morning was a bit of a blur as Jacob decided to muster his strength and come to terms with reality. It was time for him to get himself together and put things back in perspective. He’d noticed his watch in its place, alarm active and beckoning him so to speak. As Jacob silenced the device, he tried to remember the past evening’s events and how he had come to wake up in his bed and on time for work. If it weren’t for the alterations made to his watch, Jacob would swear it had all been a bad dream.
When he arrived at work, instead of the usual emotionless “good mornings,” Jacob found himself amidst more concerned greetings. There was also plenty of activity from the more curious as they whispered amongst one another while Jacob walked toward his office.
“Heeeeeeey you, man you missed it!” cried Stanley as he sprang from his cubicle.
“Missed it?” queried Jacob.
“The whole shindig, the boss man was blitzed! I just might get a raise after that bash, or at least an office…starting to feel like a damn hamster in this box.” Jacob raised an eyebrow wondering what the “hamster” comment had to do with Stanley’s very spacious cubicle. “It’s a meta-thingy, you know.” Stanley continued. “Oh yeah and you know ‘Double D Pricilla’? I knocked it right out of the park!” he continued while making a swinging bat motion. “Check this out.” Jacob just stood shaking his head as Stanley picked up his desk phone dialing an in-house extension. “Hey cupcakes, can you bring me a cup of java over here? I’m about to pass out.” As he hung up the phone while rubbing his hands together, Jacob heard a high pitched “Hear you go sweetie,” coming from behind him. It was Pricilla alright, cup in hand and smiling from ear to ear. She gave a prissy wave to Jacob as she handed Stanley the cup of coffee and finally walked back to her cubicle.
“So wadaya think?” asked Stanley in mid-cheese.
“Well I have just two questions for you. First, as I’ve said a million times before, you are aware that you’re married right? Second and more importantly, how in the hell did she get that cup of coffee and make it over here so fast? You don’t think that was just a bit, eerie?”
“So that’s it? That’s all you could come up with Jake?” By this time Stanley had his arms folded looking down as if disappointed in Jacob’s reaction.
“I’m sorry but what response were you expecting?”
“I was expecting something more like ‘so how was it to smack that up while those huge love pillows of hers bounced around’?
“Did you say love pillows?” asked Jacob now shaking his head and trying not to laugh. “Ok Stan how was it?”
“It was great Jake, just great, which is something you’ll never understand because you stay closed in that little hut of yours you call a home and never come out!” Stanley’s voice had grown loud and frustrated as he spoke. Jacob stood still and said nothing. He knew why his friend was upset, he missed him. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to yell.” Stanley mumbled. Jacob nodded to his apology while their co-workers had begun to peer over numerous cubicles to see what the disturbance was all about. “It’s just…”
“I get it Stan,” interjected Jacob. He placed his hand on Stanley’s shoulder and gave a couple pats then walked away.
As Jacob opened the door to his office, he couldn’t help but turn around and look toward his cohorts. All crammed behind tightly fitted desk spaces they worked diligently without a single complaint. He on the other hand only had to do something every once in a while, while sitting behind a lustrous cherry-oak desk in an extravagant office chair. Jacob closed his door, drew his blinds, and sat down at his desk. As much as he wanted to be back in tune with his chaotic existence, he was quickly brought to a new and disconcerting revelation. There was no chaos, except for the illusion he’d created in his own mind. His life was quite uneventful actually, uneventful and boring. As Jacob fiddled with various objects about his desk, there was a faint knock at his office door.
“I will be out in a bit Stan, I just need a moment,” exclaimed Jacob.
“I’m offering you just a little more so to speak Jacob,” replied Pinkerton as he opened the door and approached his subordinate.
“I’m sorry sir, I didn’t know it was you,” apologized Jacob.
“This is what I need for you to do, and I’m letting you know now I won’t take no for an answer.” He closed the door behind him and sat on Jacob’s desk. “Wow, give me a moment…this old man is beat after last night. That friend of yours is a lunatic and an even worse employee, but he sure does know how to put the ‘swa’ in soiree. I’m going to eventually have to give the kook an office or something…eventually.” Jacob couldn’t help but chuckle at his boss’s last remark. “Now back to you, young man, I want you out of here asap!” There was dead silence. Jacob gulped as he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Mr. Pinkerton then laid an envelope on the table in front of Jacob and motioned him to open it.
“These are brochures,” said Jacob now confused.
“I know what they are son, I brought them. I want you to get out of here and take some time off, a vacation if you will. I know you’ve been going through something as of late and
I think you deserve a break. Furthermore, I want you to get whatever it is out of your system so that you’ll be ready for when I may need your expertise most.”
“How long?” queried Jacob in a concerned and almost sobbing tone.
“As long as it takes, just know that you will be on-call in case of an emergency. I’m sure there is a certain old man besides me that hasn’t seen your face in some time.”
“You mean my father. He’s in Brazil taking photos for his latest book.”
“Still quite the adventurer that old man of yours, maybe you could use a change of scenery as well,” replied Pinkerton sliding off the desk. With that he smiled warmly at Jacob as he walked away closing the door behind him silently, as if never there.
Jacob continued to tussle with his thoughts. It was as if destiny was consciously making ways for him to solve the mystery behind his watch. But where would he even begin and with whom? Jacob then grabbed a pen from his desk drawer and began to write upon one of the brochures….533 W. Parkview! That’s where he would start. He didn’t quite have a plan, nor did he care, but he would first stop at home to get better attire for his premature stakeout.
Jacob entered the hallway of his apartment (and as if waiting); Sheryl opened her door and swiftly approached him. “Ok, I wanted to ask you something and I’m not taking no for an answer,” she began. That was twice in one day Jacob had heard that very same expression. Was he that stubborn that everyone had to force whatever they wanted upon him? “You and I are having dinner tonight at my place….as friends. I know how you feel and all, still…about her and I would never impose anything else. Think of it as a favor for your friendly neighborhood red-head next door. Oh my god that sounded so stupid, I’m sorry, I’m gonna go now, is 7:30–8ish good for you?” As Jacob nodded, Sheryl quickly darted back into her apartment slamming the door behind her. He could hear her faintly exclaiming “stupid,” “stupid,” “stupid,” as she paced through her apartment. Jacob was stunned; he had never seen her that way. Whenever she spoke, it was with great sophistication and the utmost confidence. This was the first he had seen of the nervous and…awkward side of his next-door crush. Did he make her nervous? Was she intimidated? Well hell, if so at least now they had something in common, he thought.
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