“Good Morning, best friend boss of mine!” Stanley proudly chanted. Jacob however just stood there with a blank and vacant expression. He had almost forgotten what was going to happen to the person most close to him. How could he have been so negligent and careless?
“Stanley do you trust me?” Jacob started.
“Sure I do, what’s on your mind Jake—err Mr. Parnell, you look like a ghost kicked you in the—uhhh—shit, is it ok to joke with you anymore? I’m not sure if that’s really P.C. in front of the locals ya know?”
“Stanley, forget about all of that and just listen to me closely. I had a really bad…vision! Something very bad was going to happen to you, I mean seriously bad.” Jacob spurted while gasping for breaths.
“Bad…why…I mean when? Jake what are you talking about?”
“Less than two weeks from now, what do you have planned that Friday?”
“Um—nothing I can think o—”
“You have to try!!!” Now Jacob’s voice was becoming agitated and even more panicking.
“Jesus Jake! Man relax, you’re starting to freak me out! I—Oh yeah me and a couple of the guys are going to Reggie’s to shoot some pool and have a couple—”
“You can’t go!” demanded Jacob, interrupting once more.
“What? Why? Relax dude nothing’s going to happen—”
“Just shut the fuck up and listen for once goddammit!” Then that was it…pure and utter silence. Jacob slowly released his grip of Stanley’s shirt as he looked about the room to see everyone on the office floor staring at them.
“What has happened to you?” Stanley whispered while slowly shaking his head at Jacob. Jacob really wished he could answer that question minus the cost of sounding insane.
“I’m sorry…I…I just—”
“Mr. Parnell, can I see you in my office please?” interrupted a disturbed Mr. Pinkerton. With his hand over his mouth, Jacob released a deep and sorrowful sigh. “I meant now Jacob!” exclaimed the old man impatiently. Jacob looked at Stanley in a silent but pleading manner before walking away and following Pinkerton to the elevator. “Let’s wait until we are behind closed doors before you speak. You would be wise to exercise this technique with your subordinates as well.” Jacob couldn’t even look at Harold. The disappointment in his mentor’s voice was distinct and direct. So much for this morning’s motivational speech, Jacob thought to himself.
The two gentlemen stepped off of the elevator and entered Mr. Pinkerton’s office. All who wanted to be in the know had discretely taken the stairs following the two men. They quietly peered around various cubicles hoping to hear something that would prove fit for wonderful gossip and rumor spreading later. With the door closed and blinds drawn, Mr. Pinkerton released a powerful and authoritative sigh as he sat down rubbing his chin looking at Jacob.
“Well I guess we should start with how the commotion between you and Mr. Burgress ensued and why you chose to handle the situation in the manner I witnessed?” It had been ages since Jacob could remember being spoken to as a subordinate rather than a friend.
“It’s rather hard to explain sir. It actually would be simpler, if I could ask you a question rather than reply to yours,” Jacob responded with his head toward the floor.
“Jacob, in any other circumstance I would be pissed at your question of a question, but let’s not kid each other here…we have a very meaningful and defining history together. Alternately however, I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that as of late I am beginning to lose patience with whatever has gripped you son.”
“Well then sir first let me begin by apologizing for my past conduct,” replied Jacob sincerely.
“Accepted, now please tell me what you request.”
Jacob closed his eyes taking a deep breath before continuing. “Sir…had you ever felt like…helping others was the right and noble thing to do…yet not worth the consequences?”
“Well I guess that would all depend on the consequences,” Pinkerton replied.
“Just taking away from your time…but time that is invaluable and irreplaceable!” Harold looked at Jacob confused momentarily.
“Let me just tell you this Jacob. The hero business is a poor paying one to begin with. But what you have to do is look at the individual(s) you have sacrificed your time to help. What is their worth to you? Are they good people? I would have to assume so if you decided to come to their aid. Within that, you will be rewarded…maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but God sees all my dear boy believe me. No good deed goes unnoticed. It matters not if it comes from the people you’ve helped, hell most of the time it doesn’t. What matters is that you did what you believed to be right because of who you are. There is and must always be a balance…whatever you sacrificed will be returned one way or another…you just have to believe it will be so.”
Jacob stared and Pinkerton for what seemed an eternity but said nothing. “I’m not going to force it out of you Jacob whatever it is, but I can’t have you running around this establishment in the manner I just witnessed. With that in mind I’ve decided to do something different. The ball is in your court. What should you have me do about today’s ‘situation’, or just in general for that matter?” Jacob looked at Pinkerton and shook his head. He didn’t have an answer, in fact he kind of wished it were time for him to expire right now. That’s the way he felt.
“Alright, I might as well tell someone before it’s too late. Harold you remember when you referred me to the old watchmaker downtown?”
“Well how should I say…he did something to my watch when he repaired it…”
“Did something? Besides repair it? I’m not quite sure I follow Jacob.”
Jacob took a deep breath before continuing.
“What I’m trying to say is…now whenever I wear the watch I can see—”
The conversation was interrupted by Mr. Pinkerton’s cell phone ringing. “This is important Jacob. Hold that thought just for a moment while I take this.” With that Harold stood up answering the call as he exited the office. Jacob couldn’t believe it. It was as if something, some unadulterated evil force was restricting him from telling anyone what he’d discovered. Or maybe it was a sign to help him. Maybe if he told anyone else another “penalty” would rear its ugly head.
A short time later Mr. Pinkerton reentered the office only to find it empty. Jacob was gone leaving no trace as to where or why. Harold sat at his desk placing his phone down quietly. He stared at the device momentarily before deciding it would probably prove better not to push. “He’ll come around Harold. Just be patient,” he whispered to himself uneasily.
Outside, as Jacob fled for his car he could feel a presence, as if someone was following him. He turned around to see Stanley jogging behind him panting heavily.
“Hey…wait…up a minute!” Stanley cried with his hands on his knees gasping for air. “I thought about what you said and have no clue what any of it meant…and I’m kinda pissed off at the fact that you screwed up my new silk shirt but—?”
“But?” queried Jacob impatiently.
“I decided if it means that much to you…this dream or vision or whatever…then I won’t go. It’s not that big of a deal anyhow. Just drinks and pool, hey maybe we can do something on that night instead?” Jacob smiled briefly listening to Stanley knowing for some reason he didn’t believe him. It was a way to pacify the situation that’s all, but at least he respected him enough to do that much.
“Yeah maybe we can do something, I’ll call you,” Jacob replied before walking away. Stanley now knew Jacob didn’t believe him. Giving up and still out of breath he waved his hand disregarding Jacob for now as he returned to work.
“Great! The job that took me forever to get and land the promotion of a lifetime…I decided to ditch today in fear of what only God knows would happened to me if I tol
d anyone about my wristwatch. Wow! That within itself just sounds completely absurd and ridiculous.” Jacob moaned. He then flopped lifelessly on his living room couch and turned on the television. “I stay cooped in this house like a prisoner dreading of what could happen if I’m not careful and yet I find myself ironically at the brink of death, with no explanation or resolve. Stop talking to yourself Jacob, try keeping what little sanity you have left close.” Jacob then reached in his pocket grabbing his cell phone. He found it quite disturbing that Harold hadn’t tried to call him even once after his disappearing act. “That can’t be a good sign,” he said rubbing his newly grown stubble.
Unknown as to what to feel or do next, Jacob found himself aimlessly scrolling through the contact list of his phone. Then he suddenly stopped, his eyes widened as he came across Theresa’s cell number. He traced the keys of the phone with his thumb struggling to keep his composure. Once again nothing else mattered and all he could think about was her. Perfection…tragically lost at the hands of a cruel and chaotic world. As if his body was acting upon its own agenda, Jacob pressed send dialing the number. He slowly placed the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” answered a woman’s voice on the other end.
“Hello—Theresa?” Jacob gasped.
“I’m sorry you have the wrong number.”
“Of course, my apologies,” Jacob gurgled placing his hand over his face and tossing the phone aside. If there was one thing that would always remain consistent and fresh within his life, it was this, the harsh and merciless pain that would forever eat away at his soul whenever given the chance. A true and dismal reminder that the thing he’d held most dear was now and would forever be gone. A feeling that Jacob was for certain, completely incomprehensive to anyone but him.
“Hey Jacob, you home?”
Thank goodness, Jacob thought to himself, the distraction proving timely as ever. He quickly gained his wits and walked slowly to the front door. Already recognizing Sheryl’s voice, he still looked through the peephole verifying the young lady on the other side. Pausing for a second and clearing his throat, finally Jacob opened the door. “Ok don’t say anything just listen and hear me out ok?” started Sheryl.
She looked beautiful as ever he thought. Her hair was tied to the back by a single red silk ribbon that matched her dress perfectly. She took a deep breath drawing Jacob’s attention to her milky soft cleavage, her breast rising slowly then falling as she exhaled. As she stood nervously before him, Jacob also noticed her glossy rose lips twitch as she fished for words before finally speaking once more.
“I first would like to mention that I will no longer attempt to seduce you in any shape, form, or fashion. I mean let’s be honest I’m beginning to look desperate…and I’m not!”
“Wait, what? What are you—”
“Don’t interrupt!” she scolded while taking another deep breath. “As I was saying let’s not kid ourselves I’ve done practically everything besides rape you.” At that moment, she paused for second. “And I’ve given that some thought once or twice as well,” she whispered. Afraid to interrupt again at what he’d thought he’d heard, Jacob just stood staring at the beautifully distraught woman. “Ice-cream!” Sheryl finally screeched.
“Ice cream?” queried Jacob.
“Yeah, whenever I’m a complete wreck I partake in a sundae…or two.”
“Like the thing with your sister,” replied Jacob.
“Exactly, so…will you?” Sheryl requested in a pouting yet seductive fashion.
“Oh, you mean take you out…for ice cream? Uh, sure let me get ready and I’ll meet you here in about five minutes,” said Jacob. Sheryl agreed nodding excitedly.
Jacob stepped back into his apartment, his heart racing fiercely. He wasn’t sure as to why but whenever he was in that woman’s presence the strangest things always ensued, not to mention him finding himself oddly but extremely aroused. Jacob looked down at his pants to find himself now quite erect. “Geez Jake, get a grip. You’re not a twenty-year-old boy,” he pleaded while trying to calm down. “Ok, it’s just ice-cream…you can do this.” With that Jacob stepped back into the hall to find Sheryl waiting now with her glittering red sequined purse in hand ready for departure.
As the two left the building, Sheryl trotted ahead of Jacob around the building to the garage and waited patiently for him to open the door. Jacob looked at Sheryl for a moment cocking an eyebrow but said nothing. How did she know where he parked his car? And what else did she know about him? he wondered. It would seem that he wasn’t the only one that had paid attention to the reoccurring habits of a next-door neighbor. As Jacob opened the passenger door for Sheryl, she glided in slowly smiling at him before sitting comfortably.
Neither spoke a word as they pulled from the driveway or for most of the ride for that matter. They both just sat nervously focused on their destination. Jacob was careful not to get caught gazing upon Sheryl’s beauty as she mumbled to herself apparently rehearsing what she’d say when next given the chance. He smiled secretly to himself deciding he would remain discrete and neutral during their “date.” A short time later, the two found themselves at a local ice-cream parlor Jacob GPS’d from his vehicle.
“It looks pretty dark inside from here,” Sheryl announced as she got out of the car. “Uh yeah, they’re closed honey,” she confirmed.
“When I looked it up it didn’t mention anything about them being seasonal. Damn, sorry about that.” Jacob then continued surveying the area when he noticed something else of interest. “Hey, how about this place?” he offered grabbing Sheryl by the hand.
“The Java Joint? That sounds unique and I like coffee…ok by me!” she said grinning from ear to ear.
With smiles to spare, the couple entered the establishment with haste, welcoming the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
“Hello and welcome to The Java Joint. Will it be just the two of you?” asked the hostess.
“Yes,” replied Jacob. The young woman then quickly grabbed two menus from behind her podium and exclaimed, “Follow me please!”
Taking in his surroundings Jacob noticed just how vast and roomy the place was. This was by far the biggest coffee house he’d ever been to. The lighting was dim creating a more intimate type setting. People could be seen everywhere, some at tables others in booth-style seating, all partaking in the pleasant atmosphere between sips and conversation.
“Will this be ok?” began the hostess once more pointing to a cozy candle-lit corner booth. Sheryl looked over at Jacob nodding.
“Yes this will do fine, thank you,” he replied. Sheryl sat comfortably but a short second before leaning forward and sniffing the candle that lay mid table.
“Oh my, the candle is coffee scented, how appropriate!” Jacob leaned forward sniffing discreetly confirming Sheryl’s findings then nodding. He looked up at Sheryl smiling lightly. She was quite the sight to behold, the candlelight contributing to her already angelic and luminous glow. The flame swayed back and forth dancing as Jacob caught its reflection in her beautiful eyes.
“Hi, my name is Ariel and I will be your server today. What can I start you guys with?”
“Um…I’m sorry, what did you say?” muttered Jacob now broken from Sheryl’s spell.
“What do you recommend?” Sheryl asked giving Ariel a short glance then fixing her eyes upon Jacob once more.
“The Cinnamon Apple Wedges are to die for! We slice fresh apples into wedges, then dip them in a special Cinnamon Batter and deep-fry them until crisp and golden brown. They are great by themselves or with our special Caramel Sauce and go great with any of the liquor-coffees we serve.”
“Wait…did you say liquor-coffees?” asked Jacob politely.
“First time at The Java Joint I take it? No worries just open your menu to the second page and we have regular non-alcoholic coffees and lattes as well.”
fine with the liquor-coffees.” Sheryl interjected speaking for the both of them. We will take the apple wedges and whatever your favorite liquor-coffee is as well,” she said, resting both elbows on the table with her hands on her cheeks.
“Very well I’ll be right back!” With that Ariel quickly took their menus and proceeded around their booth and down a set of carpeted stairs.
“Are you ok with this?” asked Jacob.
“You can’t be serious, please Jacob I’m a big girl. It’s no different than us going out and having a drink together. I mean how bad can it be, we’re actually going to be drinking and sobering up at the same time,” she giggled. “I mean who’d have ever thought of mixing liquor and coffee? Kind of genius if you ask me,” she continued while winking at Jacob.
Within mere minutes, Ariel returned with a platter of unadulterated bliss. Clanking plates and saucers as she sat their table, the aroma was almost heavenly. Neither Jacob nor Sheryl could wait for her to be done so they could finally indulge. A few bites and careful sips later, the couple both agreed they would be there for quite some time enjoying numerous coffees and appetizers, as if they would never have a chance to return. Hours seemed as seconds as the two talked about everything from politics to religion carefully dodging what they both wanted to really speak about…the two of them, together.
“We will be closing in fifteen minutes would you like the check?” asked an unfamiliar face.
“Wow have we been here that long? Where is Ariel?” Jacob queried.
“She has been off for the last two hours, I’m Catherine. You two have been much occupied with each other, take a look around you’re the only patrons we have left. Glad you enjoyed yourselves. I’ll be right back with the check.” Sheryl looked around to find that the only thing accompanying both her and Jacob was indeed the candlelight and music of the establishment.
“I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room. I’ll be right back.” Sheryl said smiling as she stood up staggering but for a quick moment. “Oh my god, wow I didn’t feel that until I stood up. That goes way beyond being buzzed!”
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