Disclaimers: See Part 1
A Special Note to Our Readers: Hoosier Daddy is a work in progress. You will likely notice a few inconsistencies here and there as you make your way through the online version of the story. We have made some tweaks and subtle adjustments to the plot, most specifically to timelines. For this, we ask your indulgence, and promise that in the final, published version of the book, everything will make sense. If not, we reserve the right to blame our editor.
Disclaimers: None. All of the characters are ours.
Violence/Sex: No violence, but some quirky sexual encounters and lots of big trucks. This story does involve a consensual, loving and romantic relationship between two adult women. It's not graphic, but if sexual encounters in bathrooms or behind lemon shake-up stands offend you, you may want to consider another story selection -- or at least one that isn't set in Indiana.
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Copyright: Ann McMan and Salem West, April 2013. All rights reserved. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any format without the prior express permission of the authors.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I pulled into the lot at Hoosier Daddy that night.
I'd been at the plant for a solid ten hours, and had next to no contact with anyone who normally worked my shift. I sent a quick text message to T-Bomb on my way out, asking if she could meet me for a drink.
I received five messages back from her in rapid succession.
Hey? What the HELL is going on?
Me and Luanne are already here. This place is hopping like Buehler's on double coupon day.
Aunt Jackie started selling $5 pitchers at noon.
You won't even believe the stories that are coming out. When will you get here?
Hey? Luanne wants to know if you'll pick her up some cigs?
I told her that I'd get the cigarettes, and meet them there in about fifteen minutes.
She hadn't been kidding about the crowds. The place was jammed. Music was blasting from the jukebox, and the mood inside was anything but somber. Of course, if Aunt Jackie had been pouring five-dollar pitchers of Old Style since noon, that part wasn't too hard to understand. For all practical purposes, everyone who worked at OTI was on a paid holiday.
I spotted Tony Gemelli right away. He was holding forth with a large group set up near the pool table. It was pretty clear that enthusiasm for the UAW had surged. It looked like half the chairs in the bar had been dragged over to that area. He saw me and winked as I walked by. I didn't see El. I was half relieved and half sick about that. I figured she must be off working another event someplace. I wondered how much they were hearing about the Ogata Tiger Team. I wondered if El knew that Tam Shigeta was here. And I wondered if she knew that I was now working as part of the assessment unit.
Mostly, I wondered if she was feeling as miserable as I was about our lapsed and murky status.
I saw T-Bomb standing up and waving at me from their table near the back of the bar. I waved back and started to head that way when something cut across the floor in front of me, and nearly knocked me off my feet. What the hell?
I looked down.
Yep. Puppies. And they were profoundly… ugly …puppies, too.
There had to be half a dozen of them—zooming around in crazy, random patterns like water bugs on a summer pond. They looked like canine tinker toys—cobbled together from parts that simply did not match. Their fat bottoms slid and skidded across the floor behind their sleeker front ends—as if the motor neurons carrying the message to “run really fast” got waylaid in transit.
I heard a staccato sequence of ear-splitting barks wind up and project from the dark corner behind T-Bomb's table. An exasperated-looking Lucille waddled out into the half-light, wheezing and raising Cain. Magically, the puppies all reversed course and headed toward the table, piling into an ungainly heap at Lucille's feet. He growled and snapped at each of them, before turning around and retreating back to his dark corner. The puppies sat looking forlornly at each other before meekly following Lucille, and settling down next to him on the pile of old hunting jackets that served as his bar bed.
I reached the table and pulled out a chair.
“What's with the puppies?”
Luanne waved a hand in disgust.
“Did you get remember to get my smokes?” she asked.
I nodded and pulled the pack of Viceroys out of my backpack.
“Honey, Aunt Jackie is about to go postal over these dern ugly dogs,” T-Bomb explained.
Luanne was ripping the cellophane off the pack of cigarettes. “That lowlife Jerry Sneddin came by here last night and just left them dogs outside in a big box.” She smacked the pack against the palm of her hand to dislodge a cigarette. “I got no time for any human being who would do such a thing—that man is like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.”
I was looking at Lucille and his…brood…and tallying up the number of dogs. Seven.
“Didn't Aunt Jackie say there were nine of these?”
T-Bomb started cackling.
I looked at her. “What?”
“Two of ‘em have already been adopted out.”
I looked down at the motley pile of creatures again.
“Who in the world would take one of these—much less, two? ” I asked.
T-Bomb slapped me on the arm. “Congratulations! Fritz just got himself two new playmates.”
My jaw dropped. “What the hell are you talking about?” I looked down at the little shop of horrors now snoring in a heap behind our table. “I'm not taking two of these dogs….”
“Not you,” T-Bomb clarified. “Grammy.”
Grammy took two of Lucille's spawn? It was impossible.
“That's not possible.”
“Well, apparently it is,” T-Bomb drained her glass. “She picked ‘em up today. Two little females.”
“Oh my god. What the hell is she going to do with two of these dogs? She's eighty years old.”
“So what? That don't mean she can't take care of ‘em. Hell. She keeps Fritz more than you do.”
Her comment bothered me—mostly because it was true. “Fritz is different.”
Luanne picked up a folded sheet of paper and started fanning the air in front of her face. “Not very different—if you get my drift.” She laughed at her own humor. “Maybe them females will have better digestive tracts.”
I sniffed the air. “Oh, god ….”
Acquiring two more dogs with righteous flatulence was not what I needed.
I put my head in my hands. “I need a drink.”
“Well, buck up, Betty Lou,” T-Bomb gestured toward something behind me. “I think your prayers are about to be answered.”
I swiveled around in my seat to see Tony Gemelli approaching. He was carrying a pilsner glass and a frosty bottle of Stella Artois. When he reached our table, he set them both down in front of me.
“You look like you could use this,” he said.
“Thanks.” I picked up the bottle and took a sip. I didn't bother with the glass. “It looks like business is good over on your side of the bar.”
He shrugged. “I can't complain.” He nodded in acknowledgement to T-Bomb and Luanne. “I wish the surge in enthusiasm wasn't tied to such a tragedy.” He slowly shook his head. “Nobody wants a victory at a price like that.”
“Well, dern,” T-Bomb chimed in. “That don't sound like somethin' an agitator would say.”
He looked at her. “Agitators have hearts, too.”
Luanne huffed. “I got nothin' to say about that, so I'll just say this. Wanda's misfortune might end up bein' the wakeup call everybody at that place needed.” She pointed a finger at Tony. “And that don't necessarily mean that folks woke up on your side of the bed, neither.”
Tony rubbed a hand across his chin. He looked like he needed a shave.
“I know that too well,” he said. “I've been doing this work a long time.”
“You mean this ain't your first rodeo?” T-Bomb asked.
“Exactly. Although my butt sure feels like it. Aunt Jackie needs to invest in some better chairs.”
T-Bomb laughed. “You wanna sit down with us for a spell? It might be fun to make all them converts over there think we're signin' up, too.”
He shook his head. “I don't want to tar you ladies with that brush.” He looked at me. “I think there's already been enough ‘guilt by association' going on around here.”
“Oh, hell,” T-Bomb replied. “Don't you worry none about Friday's bad luck with transportation…one thing we all got around here is access to an endless supply of trucks.” She laughed merrily.
“You know, I did notice that,” Tony smiled at her.
“Where's El?” I asked. I tried to make it sound casual, but I knew I wasn't fooling anyone.
Tony dropped a hand to my shoulder and gave it a warm squeeze. “She had some meetings this evening. I expect her to show up a bit later on.”
I nodded but didn't say anything.
Tony glanced over toward his raucous contingent of followers. “I'd better get back…I don't want to lose my captive audience.” He looked down at me. “I just wanted to say congratulations to you. From what I hear, it's long overdue.”
I wondered how he knew about what had happened.
Who was I kidding? Everybody in Princeton probably knew about it…including El.
“Thanks,” I said. “I guess we'll see how it goes.”
He nodded. “That we will.” He gave a small salute to Luanne and T-Bomb. “Ladies? Enjoy the rest of your evening.”
He left our table and wandered back toward his group.
“Them Italian men sure do have the nicest derrieres,” T-Bomb said in a dreamy voice.
I looked at her like she had two heads.
“What?” She pointed at Tony's retreating backside. “I know he don't play for your team, but you ain't dead , neither. That's some fine raw material there.”
Luanne poured herself another glass of Old Style. “He's too short.”
“Who cares?” T-Bomb waved a hand dismissively. “He could always use a stepladder.” She warmed to her theme. “Or make two trips….”
“You just ain't right.” Luanne fired up another Viceroy.
T-Bomb ignored her. “Hey? Friday? Are you ever gonna tell us what the heck happened today? What are you doin' on that Japanese Cougar Crew?”
“That's a ‘Tiger Team,' you idiot.” Luanne corrected her before I had a chance to reply.
“I guess that means you already heard about what's happening?” I asked them both.
“No details,” Luanne replied. “Just a lot of speculation.”
“I stayed behind to talk with Tam Shigeta and Steve Haley,” I reminded her.
She nodded. “We waited around for you, but it was obvious that you weren't gonna be comin' out any time soon—and they wanted everybody to clear out, pronto.”
“How did your team react to the memo?”
“Most of ‘em were just relieved to be gettin' a few days off with pay…everybody thought the work stop meant the plant was gonna be closin' for good.”
“Same here,” T-Bomb added. “And that Janice Baker told us that the air conditioning was gonna be fixed by tomorrow.”
Luanne shook her head. “Too late for Wanda.”
“Ain't that the truth?” T-Bomb sighed. “I just hate this for those children.” She looked at me. “You know, that Shigeta fella went by there and spent more than an hour with her family.”
I was surprised. “He did?”
Luanne nodded. “Wynona told Joe about it.”
“You heard from Joe?” I asked.
“Jailissa did,” she replied. “It turns out Joe was the one who called Ogata and told them the truth about what happened to Wanda. Then when that Shigeta fella got here and started cleanin' house, he contacted Joe and told him he wasn't fired.”
I hadn't heard that. “So Joe is keeping his job?”
“I don't know nothin' more about that,” Luanne said. “All I know is he ain't fired.”
“That Jerry Sneddin is gone, too,” T-Bomb added. “That's why he dropped off them Jack-Aff puppies. Aunt Jackie said she tried to find him, but he'd already cleared outta town. You know, he never did put down any roots after he came here from that PPG plant over in Evansville. I heard he was ‘encouraged' to leave there, too.”
“Good riddance to bad news, if you ask me.” Luanne looked at me. “I wonder if Misty Ann will follow him?”
I hadn't thought about that possibility. “Maybe if we're all lucky,” I said. “Although, recently, I think she was a bit more interested in Don K.”
“Oh, good lord,” Luanne huffed. “Somebody needs to turn a garden hose on that girl.”
“Don't remind me,” I said.
“Oh, hell—that lapse in judgment wasn't your fault. It ain't like there were any fertile fields around there for good pickings. And that woman is a first-class Jezebel.”
“Thanks, but I still feel horrible about letting that happen.”
“Well, I still feel horrible about the day I ate that first bag of fried pork rinds, too. But this here body is the result I got from all them transgressions that followed, and I just need to accept it, and get on with my business.” She pointed a chubby index finger at me. “Sometimes you just gotta pull up your queen-sized panties and keep on keepin' on.”
“Unless you're Ermaline,” T-Bomb quipped.
I looked fondly at both of them. They truly were my best friends.
“I love you guys,” I said.
They both raised their glasses in a toast. I lifted my bottle.
“Here's to Wanda Miles,” I said. “And to a better tomorrow for everyone.”
We clinked rims, and drank to the future I knew we always would share.
An hour later, I was making a much-needed visit to the rest room before heading out for home.
T-Bomb had already left to meet Donnie and the twins at Pizza Hut. She said it was his night to cook, so that meant they'd be eating out.
Luanne was right behind her. Jailissa was scheduled for an early-evening photo shoot at Hogg Heaven, the restaurant that took top honors at Saturday's barbecue throw down. It was her first official duty as Miss Pork Queen, and Luanne was taking the errand very seriously.
I was physically and mentally exhausted, and I knew that today was just the beginning. Tam had prepared us all for a grueling couple of weeks. Our first priority was to resolve all critical safety issues, and return the plant to full operation as quickly as practical. With the problem areas we'd been able to identify today, it seemed that we'd be able to accomplish the lion's share of this work in another forty-eight to seventy-two hours. Amazingly, Ogata technicians had already managed to arrange delivery of replacement HVAC components, and their teams were working around the clock to repair the malfunctioning units.
I stared at my reflection in the mirror while I washed my hands. I looked tired, but I thought I looked less anxious than I had when I left home that morning. It was true that my eyes still resembled road maps, but they didn't look as…sad.
Not that I wasn't still feeling sad. I was. But it was a different kind of sadness—duller and less acute. It was more like the cold snap that shows up after Christmas, and promises to hang around until the spring thaw. The kind of sadness you learn to live with, and know how to dress for.
I stared at my face in the dim light, and realized that the expression it wore was one I'd seen a lot of lately. In fact, I was beginning to realize that the world was full of faces that looked just like mine did right then. It led me to wonder how many other people were doing what I was now cosigned to do: grind out their days, putting one foot in front of the other until their disappointed hopes faded into vague memories.
My thoughts were about as bleak as the ancient wallpaper in that damn bathroom. I shook the excess water off my hands and grabbed a paper towel to dry them. I had just reached the door when someone on the other side pushed it open, and bumped it into my foot.
“I'm sorry,” an anxious voice called out. “Are you okay?”
I stepped back to allow the other woman to enter. It was El.
We stared at each other in disbelief. Then we started talking at the same time.
“I didn't know you were here,” she began.
“I'm just leaving,” I said.
We stopped and stared at each other some more. An awkward silence ensued.
“How are you?” she finally asked. Her voice was soft and low.
“Okay,” I lied.
She continued to stare at me. I folded.
“All right…not great.”
“Me either.” She sounded almost relieved.
We gave each other shy smiles.
“What kind of losers are we?” I asked. “We each feel better knowing that the other is miserable.”
“I don't know,” El said. “I think that kind of makes us winners.”
“I guess I need to change my point of view.”
“That's always been the case, hasn't it?”
I wanted to be sure I understood her. “Are we talking about business or pleasure?”
I rolled my eyes. “You really drive me crazy, you know that?”
“Isn't that supposed to be my job?”
“Which job would that be?”
She shrugged. “Take your pick. Lately, I've kind of sucked at both of them.”
I was confused. “What do you mean?”
“I don't know,” she lowered her gaze to the floor. “I don't think I have the heart for this work any more.”
I was surprised. “Why do you say that?”
She looked up at me. “Lots of reasons.”
“That's ironic,” I said.
“I seem to have rediscovered mine.”
“You have?” She sounded intrigued.
“Tam Shigeta is pretty persuasive, isn't he?”
“He said he knew you.”
She smiled. “We logged some hours together in Ithaca.”
“So he said. He thinks you have integrity.”
She raised an eyebrow. “That seems like a curious observation.”
I felt mildly embarrassed. “I may have mentioned something to him about our…well…you know.”
El folded her arms and regarded me with that professorial look of hers. “No. I don't think I do. Would you like to clarify what ‘you know' means?”
I glanced around the bathroom like I expected someone to crawl out from under the stall.
“What's the matter?” El asked.
“Maybe we could find a better place to talk?” I suggested.
“Why? Are you afraid this bathroom isn't secure?”
“No.” I sighed. “It was just a lame attempt to buy some time.”
She laughed. “Sorry, Charlie. I just got here, and I can't leave yet. Tony would kill me.”
“So,” she leaned back against the door. “You were saying?”
I scratched my ear. “I may have mentioned something…vaguely and in passing…about the fact that you and I might be…sort of…something…slightly more than…business…acquaintances…maybe.”
She rolled her eyes. “And he kept talking with you?”
She shook her head in apparent disbelief.
“That surprises you?” I asked.
“No…if that's truly how you expressed yourself, it astonishes me.”
“I'm curious,” she said.
“About what motivated you to tell Tam that you and I were more than business associates.”
“Well, that's hardly rocket science. He already knew about Don K.'s little offer. I figured it was safe to assume he also knew about what precipitated it.”
“I think so.”
“But he still made you an offer.”
It was my turn to raise an eyebrow. “How did you know he made me an offer?”
“He'd be an idiot not to—and Tam's not an idiot.”
I sighed. “Well…I sure hope he's not an idiot, because I accepted.”
El's eyes widened. “You did?”
She was staring at me with an unreadable expression—but it didn't look unhappy.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I'm just…surprised. And gratified,” she added.
“ Of course . This is a wonderful outcome for you—and for Ogata.”
I could think of a few other outcomes that would be even more wonderful for me than signing on to work with Tam Shigeta—but I didn't feel confident enough right then to mention any of them.
El was giving me that measured look of hers—the one that made you feel like you'd just been caught cheating on an exam.
“I wish we had more time,” I said. The words came out sounding so earnest, that they surprised both of us.
“I know. I'm sorry I have to work tonight. It's…critical right now.”
I didn't reply.
El kept looking at me. “Friday Jill?” she asked.
“You do know that our present circumstances won't stay the same?”
I nodded. “I know.”
“But,” she continued. “With very good luck, you and I will.”
I felt a flutter of optimism. I wanted to ask her to explain what she meant, but I was afraid to do so. And that knee-jerk reaction of mine was frustrating the hell out of me.
“You're doing it.”
“That thing you do…finding ways to talk yourself out of something before you have a chance to get into it.”
“I don't always do that.”
El raised an eyebrow.
“I didn't do it today,” I said defensively. Then I smiled. “I didn't do it with Tam or his Cougar Crew.”
“His what? ” El looked completely perplexed.
I waved a hand. “It's a long story…the industrial world according to T-Bomb.”
“Oh… thank god . I was beginning to think I'd been out of the workplace for too long.”
I laughed. “You see…I'm not always a chickenshit.”
“For my sake, I hope not.”
I took a step closer to her. She noticed. “Is Indiana one of those states that offers refunds to people who stockpile good intentions?”
I thought about that. “Not if they're tossed into a box with glass bottles.”
“That doesn't mean you shouldn't save them,” I added.
El unfolded her arms. “I need a minute to sort through all those double negatives.”
“How about I offer to take something on deposit anyway?”
“What assurance can you offer that you'll always be good for it?”
Her words seemed vaguely provocative. I decided to test them out.
I bent toward her, but stopped just short of her mouth. I hovered there, feeling the faint puff of her breath against my face. Then she closed the remaining distance between us, and I didn't feel anything except the overwhelming rush of everything I always felt when I was this close to El.
We held on to each other like shipwreck victims clutching at flotsam. El was whispering against my ear. I couldn't quite make it out.
“What are you saying?” I muttered against her neck.
“Time. I just need time.”
I was going to ask what for, but I never got the chance. Someone started pounding on the outside of the door.
“El?” More pounding. “Are you still in there?”
It was Tony. El grabbed hold of my arms and squeezed them tightly before she pushed me back.
“I'm sorry,” she whispered. “I have to go.”
My fear and insecurity returned like a bad penny. I gave her a hopeless look.
She saw it.
“Please,” she said. “I need you to trust me…can you do that?”
“Yes” was such a simple word—it should've been easy for me to say it. I opened my mouth to try, but before I could get it out, Tony rapped on the door again. I closed my eyes.
El dropped her hands. “I'll be right there,” she called out to Tony. She gazed back at me with profound sadness. Then she composed herself, and turned away.
“What the hell took you so long?” Tony asked, when she opened the door. “We've got a situation out here.”
“All right, all right,” El said. “Let's get it taken care of.”
The door closed behind them, and I continued to stand there, alone, in the middle of the dim room.
Grammy was in my kitchen when I got home. I could smell the sweet evidence of her presence before I actually saw her.
Fritz met me on the back porch, dancing around me in circles and wagging his tail. I ruffled his ears and kissed him on the head.
“Is that you, Jill?” Grammy called out.
“Yes, ma'am,” I answered. I walked inside to join her. She was sliding something into the oven. “What are you cooking—and how'd I get so lucky?”
She closed the oven door and turned to face me. “I heard about what happened at the plant today when I went by to see Wynona and the family. I took them one of those chicken bruschetta casseroles you like so much—that one from the Stove Top Stuffing box? And I thought you might like one, too.”
I walked over and hugged her. “You always know exactly the right thing to do.”
“Not always.” She patted my back. “Sometimes I just get lucky.”
“Will you stay and eat with me?” I hadn't even realized how hungry I was until I walked into the world of wonderful smells now swirling around my kitchen. Garlic. Fresh basil. Tomatoes. Roasted chicken. Mozzarella. And, of course, stuffing—lots and lots of stuffing.
I could hardly wait until it was ready.
“I might sit and have a bite or two with you,” Grammy looked at the wall clock. “But it's not really good to eat this late—it gives you bad dreams.”
“It's barely seven o'clock,” I said. I didn't tell her that my dreams were likely to be bad, whether I had them on a full stomach or not.
I dropped down onto a stool. Something caught my eye. Grammy had brought one of my ‘project' chairs into the kitchen. I pulled it over to where I sat.
“Were you going to work on this?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I just wanted to check on your progress.”
“You mean ‘lack of progress,' don't you?” I flicked at a stray piece of reed that projected from one of the holes. My untouched basket of caning supplies sat on a small table next to my stool. “I haven't had much opportunity lately to work on these.”
“That's because you spend too much time gallivanting around.”
I looked up at her. She was now chopping carrots…probably for a salad.
“I don't gallivant.” I wasn't really sure what that term even meant—but I was pretty certain I hadn't been doing much of it.
“I don't,” I said again.
I kept fiddling with the reed. It really needed to be removed.
Grammy walked over and handed me a shallow bowl of water that contained several lengths of damp cane.
“What's this?” I asked.
“I thought this would give you something to do while we waited for dinner to bake,” she explained. She resumed chopping vegetables.
I pulled one of the damp lengths of cane from the bowl. “I don't think this is likely to relax me.”
“You never know until you try,” she said. “Wynona told me there were some big changes going on at the plant today.”
“Yeah, you might say that.” I fished my mallet and some wooden pegs out of the basket. “The Ogata transition team showed up yesterday. All the lines are shut down while they address all of the workplace safety concerns.”
“Wynona said the Krylons are gone.”
I nodded. “They are…and a lot of their senior management along with them.”
“How was it that you ended up working today when they shut everything else down?” Grammy asked.
I was tapping wooden pegs into the holes around the opening of the chair seat to hold down the loose pieces of damp cane.
“Tam Shigeta, the man heading up the transition team, asked me if I'd like to work with them during this period while they're changing things over.”
Grammy nodded. “That's good. They should want your help with that.”
“I hope so.” I cut some lengths of cane and started weaving them together across the opening. “It's kind of strange to see where this day ended up—this morning, I thought I might be quitting.”
Grammy paused mid-chop. “Well that wouldn't have made any sense…why would you want to think about doing something like that?”
I shrugged. “It just seemed easier.”
“Easier than what?” she asked.
I knew that I should never have started down this road with her.
“Easier than staying on and dealing with another set of failures,” I muttered.
Grammy didn't much care for that answer. She set her knife down and glared at me. I tried to concentrate on my weaving and pretend I didn't notice.
“Jillian Fryman, do not even pretend that you didn't just say that. I might be an old woman, but my hearing is just fine .”
“I know, Grammy.”
“I honestly do not know what's gotten into you lately…you keep burnin' your bridges before you even get to ‘em.” She huffed. “What in the world has you running so scared?”
“I'm not running,” I protested.
“Well if this behavior of yours isn't running, I don't know what it is.”
“I'm trying to change that, Grammy. I took the damn job they offered me.”
“Well,” she picked up her knife again. “I suppose that's something.” She resumed chopping.
I was relieved that I seemed to have dodged the worst of that bullet.
For a minute or two, she chopped and I wove in relative silence. Then she spoke up again.
“What about Eleanor?” she asked.
I ran the end of one of the cane strands up under my fingernail.
So much for that bullet-dodging fantasy….
I sucked on the end of my finger and looked at her.
“Well?” she asked.
“Well, what?” I mumbled.
“Take your finger out of your mouth.”
“Now,” Grammy continued. “What are you going to do to make sure that girl stays around?”
I was dumbfounded by her question. “Grammy…I can't do anything to make her stay around.”
“Of course you can.”
“No, I can't.” I fanned my sore finger up and down. “She's a labor organizer…she goes where her work takes her. She'd never want to settle down in a place like this.”
“Have you asked her that?”
“Of course not.”
I was so frustrated I was practically sputtering at her. “Because she'd never do it.”
Grammy put her knife down again and stood facing me with her hands on her hips. “Is mind reading part of that fancy MBA program you're always workin' on? Cause if it isn't, I don't know how you can be so sure you know anything about what she'd say.”
“I think that girl is the best thing that's ever happened to you, and I don't understand why you won't just admit it.”
“I do admit it.”
“Have you told her that?”
“Of course not.”
Grammy sighed. “Didn't you just tell me that those new owners hired you to help straighten out the mess at that truck plant?”
“And how, exactly, do you all plan to do that?”
I sighed. “We'll study all of the processes and procedures and fix or replace the ones that don't work, or that compromise safety and productivity.”
“And I suppose you'll do that by guess work?”
“You mean you won't just assume you know what's wrong or what's likely to happen?”
I rolled my eyes. “No, Grammy.”
“Really? Even though that method seems to work just fine in the rest of your life?”
“Okay, Judge Judy…I get it. You've made your point.”
“Are you sure about that? I'd hate for you to have to assume you know what I'm thinking.”
I opened my mouth to say something else, but thought better of it. I'd already given her way too much raw material for one night.
Something else occurred to me. I grasped at it as a way to get her off this topic, and get myself off the ropes in the process.
“There is o ne thing about your ‘thinking' I'd like to ask you about,” I said.
She looked suspicious. “What's that?”
“Oh…let's see…it might involve two mongrel puppies?”
Her face softened. “Oh…those sweet babies. Don't you dare say anything mean about them.”
“Grammy…what on earth possessed you to adopt two of the ug—” she glared at me, and I searched for another word, “ oddest puppies in the world?”
“I had my reasons,” she explained. “Besides…Fritz just loves them. They ran and played together all day today. When I left to come over here, little Jimmie and Eddie were curled up in a ball, sleeping on your grandpa's chair.”
“Jimmie and Eddie?” I was pretty sure that T-Bomb said the puppies Grammy adopted were females.
Grammy nodded. “At first, I thought it was strange to give girl dogs boy names—but Aunt Jackie explained that it made sense, since Lucille was their daddy.”
I didn't even bother to comment.
The oven timer dinged.
“Dinner's ready,” Grammy walked my way. “How much progress did you make?”
I set the chair down and pushed it toward her.
Grammy took her time, checking it out from top to bottom. Then she straightened up and looked me square in the eye.
“How bad is it?” I asked.
I was prepared for her to let me down gently—maybe pat me on the hand before showing me all the places where I needed to go back and rework my weaving. It was clear that I was just never going to get the hang of this.
Grammy continued to stand there for a few moments without speaking. Then she smiled.
“Jill, this is perfect .”
I was shocked. I hadn't even really been paying attention to what I was doing.
“It is?” I glanced down at it like I was seeing it for the first time. In fact, it did look pretty tidy.
“See what happens when you don't overthink things?”
I shook my head in amazement. Maybe she was right about some other things, too?
But not about those puppies….
To Be Continued…
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