Jamie - The Journey Begins Ch. 30 - Up Down and Around
Well, that was the plan. Mike, was having none of it. We talked out front in the sunshine for ages, till the messages started to come in -- Adam, then Troy, one of the guys I was on shift with before heading overseas.
AY: YOUR BACK WTF!
JS: hey ads yep
AY: where u what u doing
JS: C47 w mike
JS:b home in 20
AY: excitd 2 c u buddy
TB: Jamie.. you quit?
JS: hey Troy yep its time
TB: the boys want to have a beer
JS: sure where when
TB: Sun night at golf club 1900h
JS: sweet look forward to it
It was time to get this shit sorted - enough stressing around. Pulling into the carpark of my account's office, I was strangely calm - which is a good thing, seeing I've been stressing over this for almost a month or more now, I guess.
"Hey Avery, how are you doing, sir?" I shook his hand while walking into his office.
"Jamie, please... Sir? I've known you since you were 10 years old."
I felt a little coy - yeah Avery had known me and my family for years. Dad and mom used him to help manage all their financial matters, so he was the right person to help with all this stuff.
"Sorry, just a habit. It's just I'm freaking myself out. I have no idea what I am so worried about but..."
Stateside, Ben and I had called Avery. He sent me a list of stuff to request and email over once I had it filled in, etc. Ben threatened me with the whole 'do as Avery asked, or he will send the email to Avery himself if I didn't.' Oops, okay Ben, I get it. By the time I got to Oz, Avery had the list of documents ready to sign. Made it very easy, thank fuck.
"Ok, Jamie, so firstly you need to relax a little, well a lot! You're not being audited, not accused of fraud, tax dodging. You are doing exactly the right thing with your affairs, so relax." Avery stood, heading over to the paneled cabinet on the other wall. "Do you want a drink of something, you know, to calm you down?"
"Thanks, Avery. I'm all good, but thank you. Umm, it doesn't seem much or enough to say it, but, thanks! You don't know how much hearing you say it's all sorted puts me at ease."
"That's why I'm here. Sure you don't want a drink? It's after 6."
"Yeah, ok. One, thanks."
After sipping a single glass of Glayva Whisky Liquor on ice, I remarked, "Damn, that stuff is nice! I'm sure it would get you on the wrong side of drunk in hurry too, hmm."
Avery just smiled back, with an all-knowing smile. I can see why he and dad have always got on so well - they know the art of saying loads by saying, well, not much at all.
"So, Jamie, I need you to read through these documents," he said while handing me the large blue folder. "Make any notes you want on this pad. Also, use those post-it notes. I'll go work in the other office for a bit. You come and get me when you're ready, ok?"
"Thanks," I replied. I read through the pile of papers - it was pretty easy to follow. It didn't take me long to get the basic concept, probably 10-15 minutes tops.
Avery timed it perfectly. As I looked up from the papers, he wandered back in, looking for something on his desk.
"Hey, I think I understand it. Can I run it by you?"
"Sure. Fire away."
"I thought so."
"As I understand it, monies made by the assets in the trust are pay out-disbursed as per the list in section 2, right?"
"Yes. And if in the future, Jamie, when/if you become a parent, they will be taken care of in that section. That make sense?"
Hmmm, kids. "Yeah, thanks, Avery. Have to say, I haven't thought about kids, but..."
"But that is what you pay me for. Who knows, right? I'm sure Rob and Kate would love more grandkids."
"Yeah, they live for the grandkids. Dad says it's payment for putting up with us as kids. Thanks again, Avery. It's awesome, and from what I understand, it falls in-line with the wills Ben and I made just after our wedding?"
"Spot on. This works hand-in glove-with your wills, so there are no issues there."
"Thanks so much. I appreciate all of this, really do."
Avery walked me out of the office, talking about how his son and daughter-in-law just had their first child. He was... IS ... A very proud granddad too.
I climbed into my truck, checking the time in Texas. Hmm... yes - Ben should be on his way home or at home by now. We'll let's see, hey. Clicking on his number, I was counting the rings. He picked up on the 4th.
"Hey skip, what's good?"
"It's so good to hear your voice, Ben. Just leaving Avery's, it's all sorted pretty much!"
"Great, that's great! See you didn't have to stress so much."
"Yeah, I know that now. Sorry for being a pain in the ass. Anyway, what are you up to?"
"Just home, about to shower then go to bed. Hey sexy Aussie man, what else needs sorting? Anything?"
"So, my truck. Half a 20ft shipping container of my things. The truck is the only thing I'm unsure what to do with."
"You're either going to have to sell it, or give it to someone... your dad or...?"
"Yeah, I think I'll have to sell it. It's not my dad - he's pretty much said that too. He's enjoying the Mustang too much, lol. Or Mom is."
"Hey, thanks for cooking dinner, Adam. It's amazing. See Jules, I said this guy was good."
"Thanks, mate, but she's the amazing one."
"Aww come on you two, get a room. Oh wait, you've got a room. I'm the third wheel here. Damn, ha-ha."
"So, have you heard, spoken to Ben today?"
"Yeah, Jules. I called him when I left the accountant. He'd just got home after work."
Adam chipped in. "Well done,! You've got the time zones all sorted - look at you!"
I just poked my tongue out at that comment. "I know, right, being all grown up and adulting, ha-ha." I paused, taking a deep breath, thinking about how it was all coming together now.
"Think I need a drink. Can I get you guys something?"
"Another glass of that Dolcetto, Jamie, please?"
"Sure, and for you, Adam - want to join me with a JD and Cola?"
"Oh, you sweet-talking thing. Ha-ha."
I continued the conversation as I headed over to the kitchen. "So Adam, how's the new place going? I went for a walk today. The new sections of the development are looking amazing. Saw your place too - is going to be - OMG! - what a view, hey."
"It's almost there... been a lot of hard work, but it's paying off."
"Adam, it's brilliant the way you've pulled all of this together. Obviously, the penthouse apartments in both towers have better views. You're going to make some good money on those. That's what it's about in the end, right?"
"Yep, a few people have said I should have hung on to one of them, but that was never the plan. Our ones on the lower floor are just as good, plus we're on track for handover on the 16th, so only a few days."
"Geez, before you know it, you guys will be on the move into your place. So happy for the two of you." I couldn't help but smile at my two friends. They are so right for each other. I sat back down with our drinks and stuffed some food in my mouth - I was starving hungry today, wow.
"Once Julie and I will shift over there, I'll set this up for you as a rental. I've got the estate agents all set too."
"Dad said you guys already had tenants lined up, yeah?
"Yep, it's all sorted mate."
"Thanks, man. Don't know what to say."
"Soooo... Jamie, can I ask? What are you going to do with your F250 when you head back to the States?"
I looked at Adam as if someone just said they were stealing a child. "Umm, I ... I don't know."
"Well look, if you are wanting to sell it - see it go to someone that will look after it - I heard Mason is looking for a new car."
I looked dead at Adam. "You have to be fucking kidding! MASON!! I wouldn't sell him my old smelly socks."
"Ok, then if not Mason, how about me? You know I'd look after it. I've just sold the Merc - it was all flash, but no substance, you know."
"Ha, funny. Ben and I spoke about this back in the States. Said I'd be okay if it found a home with either Dave or you, Adam. I'll think about it overnight and let you know in the morning, if that's ok?"
"Sure, mate. I know how much that truck means to you. I can tell by the look of confusion, a little time would be good for you to convince yourself, work through it."
"Yeah, I just need to settle my mind on it. Thanks, Ad's."
After cleaning up after dinner, the three of us sat outside with a few drinks in hand - just hanging out, relaxed, talking interspersed with moments of comfortable silence thrown in.
Easy, like old friends do, hmm... that Jack Daniels is going down a treat.
"Ok yeah." I jolted awake in the dark, sitting up, breathing as I'd just ran a marathon or seen a ghost. My body felt like someone had just plugged me into a power outlet, all tingling.
I was wide awake. I looked at my cell -- shit, Jamie - it's only 4 am. 'Stuff it! I'm awake now. Might as well tell Adam, then go for a run. Maybe it will help me calm down.' Guess I can always have a nap when I get back so I'm not falling asleep tonight at the catch up with the guys. Anyway, I wasn't planning on being out too late, but something you learn very early in the job: Never-Ever fall asleep around firefighters. That never ends well.
Quietly padding my way along the corridor, I gently knocked on Adam and Julie's door.
"Hey, Adam you awake?" I was trying on my best hushed voice.
A groggy sounding Adam replied, "Am now. What's up? It's 3:20 am."
"Um, sorry mate ... it's just about the truck."
"Yeah, ok. What's wrong?"
"Nah, nothing. I mean nothing's wrong. Just the F250. I'm happy for you to buy it, you know, if you still want to."
"You decided this at 3 am? Shit Jamie, go back to bed or something. It's all good."
"Thanks for understanding. It's just that I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Sorry for waking you."
"No worries, I get it. Sometimes I have things on my mind - just can't seem to get rid of it until I've actioned it, so I get it."
"Yeah, I get it. You can go back to sleep now. I'm far too awake to go back to bed. Might go for a run. Oh, and with the financials, we can work that out later. I trust-ya mate."
"Thanks, Jamie, I got it valued a few weeks ago, from a couple of valuers. I'll give you them and you can see what you think, ok?"
"Sure, that's great. Makes it easy for everyone."
"Oh, hi Jules. Sorry I didn't mean to wake you."
"Can you two either shut-it or go for a run, something?"
"Hey! If you give me 10 minutes, I'll come with you too. It'll be like the old days, hey?"
"Sure, I'll wait for you downstairs."
"Just hurry up, both of you. Go for your run so I can go back to sleep and enjoy the quiet."
Adam joined me about 10 minutes later. We slipped out the front door into the early pre-dawn air. The sun was slowly lighting the skyline - that small light against the deep ink blue of the fading night sky, coupled with the crisp fresh air, such an amazing way to start the day.
After some very busy days back in town, I was exhausted. "Can't I just have a night in before I fly out tomorrow, pleeeaaasssee?" I whined in my best childlike voice. "Adam, Julie, come on - it's been a big few days, and I was up super early too."
"Yeah dufus, it all turned out to be pretty easy, right!"
"I know, right. Go figure, the Australian government was the pain in the butt. Avery had it sorted hey... But guys, I'm exhausted. I've been out almost every night."
"A few big ones with the guys too, hey Jamie, hmmm? Even managed to drag you into it, Adam, didn't he?"
"Yeah, Adam," the look of surprise on his face was priceless.
"One or two nights ended up being pretty big. What is it with you guys - getting blind drunk, stripping off your clothes, and running along the main street naked?"
"It's all for you, Jules: dinner, drinks, and a show, ha-ha." I thought Adam was going to wet himself at that - gotta say it was pretty funny.
"Lucky it was a warm night boys, else I would have needed a flashlight and magnifying glass, lol."
I gave Julie a quizzical look. "Maybe not with the torch or magnifying glass - I've never had any complaints. Plus, I've showered enough times with elephant man here," pointing at Adams crotch. "You gotta watch you don't trip over it, lol." Jules just smiled and nodded.
"Hey, do you think the guys would be pissed if I cancel? I just want to go to bed."
Adam and Jules exchanged looks, "Plus I'm missing Ben, feeling a little down, you know. The last few months have been tough, me working away in Boston you know."
Truth be known, I was a little worried about tonight at the golf club. Mom and Dad called me about 30 minutes ago. Mom said they'd been asked to come down for a drink too. She wanted to make sure they weren't cramping my style if they came along.
"Come on, Jamie. We don't want to be late. Go take a quick shower - you'll feel better. Put some clean clothes on and we'll go."
"What are you guys coming to? I thought it was just a few of the guys from the station."
"Yeah it is, but they wanted me to make sure you didn't run off, so had to invite us, you know, like a personal UberX. Look, we won't stay any longer than you want to, ok?"
I stared at Adam then switched to Julie. I was sure they were bullshitting me but... they didn't crack. "What - are you going to stand there and stare at us both or are we going?"
"Ok-ok. I'll go shower and get changed. Geez... sorry Jules."
We pulled up around the side. "Adam, you are so set in your ways. It's not like we're going to the pro-shop. Why'd you park here? Now we've got to walk around to the front."
"Quit your complaining, will you? There's a side door. Come on."
"Wow, I didn't even know this door was here. Ok... cool trick, Adam."
Crossing the carpark and heading up the small set of stairs, we headed in the door and along a short corridor. In the distance, I could see two doors at the end.
We must be near the kitchen - I could hear the busy sounds of food prep and voices. Neither door had signs on them. I'm like, "Which door, Adam?" I had no idea.
His cell rang. "Hey, hold up guys. Hello... this is Adam... Oh hey, one sec... I've got some people with me. I'll find somewhere quieter." He was looking around as if there was a door we'd missed or something.
"You want us to go in or wait for you, Ad's?"
"Nah you and Julie go in ... the door on the left. I'll be right behind you."
"Sure, no worries, mate. Hey Jules - wanna be my date?" I flashed a sexy smile.
"Oh, I'd love to." She laughed while kissing me on the cheek.
"Thank you, let's go."
With that, we opened the door. I was still half looking at Julie when we stepped through and was suddenly aware that we were not alone. As I looked up, it took a few seconds for my eyes to register and process it all. One face stood out, Ben? "What the ..." I stopped like a deer in the headlamps.
Adam came up behind me. "Come on," He playfully pushed me forward a step and kissed me on the ear.
I just stood there. Ben was walking toward me wearing a huge 1000w smile that lit up his face. "SURPRISE!"
"BEN?" My brain had engaged finally. I almost stumbled the first few steps toward him. We met just short of halfway across the room. I swept him up, lifting him off the floor in one fluid movement, hugging the life out of him while I spun him around - alright a few kisses too. "You knew about this."
"What are you talking about? I didn't know a thing about this ... just randomly decided to jump on a flight halfway across the world."
I didn't care what he was saying, really. He could have been giving me the launch codes. I was just overcome with seeing him, feeling him in my arms, all of it. I could hear in the distance, cheering and whistling, as I lowered Ben down, looking around the room filled with my family and friends. Ben was saying something to me. I couldn't hear him over the noise. "Excuse me what?"
I leaned in closer. Ben's lips were resting against my ear. Seriously, it was turning me on a bit... ok, a lot, oh god! Imagine if I got a hard-on or half'a-one in front of all these people, I'd never live that down. "The day you gave notice, I got a call from... Raine? I just found out he's the Chief, right? Your old boss. Such a nice guy. Anyways, he let me in on the whole plan."
"Wow, how'd he call you? Dad!"
"Sure, your Dad gave him my number. So Raine wanted to know if I'd come over. I said, 'Sure! I'd love to'. I started to thank him for the offer, saying it was probably going to be a little more than I could afford - you know, last minute ticketing, maybe we could do a video link."
I was listening to Ben, yes, and trying not to get a hard-on, which wasn't being helped by the fact that his leg brushed against me every time he gestured while talking. The guy can't stand still talking - he always moves around a little - it's cute.
That's when I started to see the faces in the crowd.
"But, Raine wasn't having any of it, said not to worry about the cost, just to pack a bag and be ready for a call with the flight details. It all happened so quickly." The clapping and cheering were still buzzing the room when I looked up again. "I was speechless. Then 10 minutes later, there was a group message sent by Susan West?"
"Yeah, she's the new deputy. Her, Dad, and Raine all worked together for years. They're good friends."
"She forwarded a message from Raine saying you were coming over stateside, asking for people to say if they could come. There were hundreds of people on it. Everyone was offering to tip in money as well. That's what paid for my ticket."
The Boss was standing across from me. With him was DCO West and almost the entire command team from the three districts I'd worked in. There was pretty much someone from every shift I'd worked too, guys from interstate when I was seconded. "Tom! Good God, Tom ... you're here too!"
"Your dad called me, wanted my frequent flyer details, and then emailed me back the confirmation and E-Ticket. Before I knew it..."
I was stunned on so many levels: Ben, all these people, the expense of it all. But, fuck me. The way they kept it all quiet, legendary stuff. Raine and Susan walked up to Ben and me, first shaking his and Susan's hands. I was humbled by this whole thing. "Thank you, Sir, Ma'am."
"Raine and Susan will be fine, Jamie - no need for 'Sir' and 'Ma'am'".
Slowly, a crowd of people formed around us. Most everyone there knew one another, so conversations were going on all around. I took a moment to just absorb all the amazing collection of people surrounding us, that have, did, and still do, mean so much to me.
I'm not sure how long it was - I know I had a few beers handed to me. The crowd started to spread out a bit. I'd lost Ben to Gav, Dave, and Mike from the Café - they were busy introducing him to some of my friends that he'd not met yet.
We caught eyes across the crowd for a moment. I mouthed 'sorry' - I was feeling like a bad husband leaving him in the crowd. He just laughed and waved me off, replying 'all good.'
I swear it took me 40 minutes to just say 'hi' to everyone. I have no idea how, but I'd lost 2 hours when Dad came over with Ben, asking if I could come with him for a moment.
I was flanked by my husband, parents, Stephanie on one side, and CFO Raine Wilmer, DCO Susan West on the other.
Then all of a sudden, the room started to go quiet. My dad was the first of many to speak.
"Thank you all for coming along. As I look around the room, I see those dear friends, our family of friends, those from Pre-school, primary (grade), high school, Uni, and the fire service college, work colleagues, those that met through his love of surfing, dirt bike riding, water-skiing, running...