IMPORTANT NOTE TO READER: If your just tuning in, you'll want click HERE to read Pick-A-Path Section 1 First.
And the readers said.... Path 'A'! Here we go!!!
Dr. Walters closed Jimmy’s file and pushed himself back from his desk. Lori watched unable to breathe as he stood, removed his glasses, and walked to the window.
He took a deep breath and without looking at her asked “Are you sure you want to do this Lori?” Still not looking at her he rubbed the skin above the bridge of his nose. “I’ve had to be the barer of bad news for so long and it’s a heavy load to carry.” After another long moment, he finally turned back to her. “Do you really understand and want what you’re asking for?”
She could only nod.
Dr. Walters had nodded back at her and said he’d need to see Jimmy again in a week. Now, as the interstate mile markers flew by and her husband slept in the passenger seat beside her, the magnitude of what she’d so willingly taken on began to churn in her stomach.
Four weeks… Twenty-eight days... Six hundred seventy-two hours... It didn't matter how you worked the math, there was no way it could be made to sound good. Each time she’d broken it down further, the task of telling him had grown larger and more impossible.
She gripped the steering wheel just as she’d gripped the arms of the chair in Dr. Walters’s office and wondered what in the hell she’d gotten herself into. How was she supposed to tell her husband he was going to die?
This was Jimmy Moore for God’s sake, she thought taking a long look at him propped in the space between the passenger seat and door. This was not just the Jimmy Moore that had been her high school sweetheart and the only man she’d ever loved, this was also Jimmy Moore, the fire fighter, the charity softball star, the pee wee football and tee ball coach, and the builder of the church’s new play ground. As the boy Jimmy Moore, his antics had become legendary, and now, the man Jimmy Moore was their town’s and their son’s hero.
“You okay Granger?” She jumped at the sound of his voice as it broke through her thoughts and then smiled at his words. He was the only person on earth she let call her by her middle name. She’d hated it at first but now loved the way it rolled off his tongue. She loved the way he smiled when he said it and how it made the dimple on his left cheek appear. “You look lost over there.”
She shook her head smiling back at him, “Just thinking’ that’s all.”
He laughed and popped her thigh,” Well, don’t hurt yourself”.
She smiled back at him “I’ll try not to”.
“What’s for lunch?” he said through a yawn as he stretched. His right arm reached up in the air, and his left came across to the driver side and in front of her face and then through her hair.
She took it and placed it back onto her thigh. “A knuckle sandwich if you keep bein’ mean.”
He squeezed her thigh and grinned at her. “You’re a knuckle sandwich Granger,” he said settling back into his seat.
She felt the heat from his hand radiate through her jeans and onto her skin and in that moment she knew she couldn’t let anyone else be the one to tell him, but at the same time she couldn’t tell him either, not yet, because as soon as he knew, it would be real, and she wasn’t ready for it to be real.
She decelerated and took the Megan Springs rd. exit and turned left onto Darken Dale dr. She eased to a stop in front of her sister’s house and as though on queue the front door flew open and their four and a half year old shot across the lawn. With equally impressive speed Jimmy was out of the car and absorbing the full impact of their sons love and lifting him in the air.
Lauren and her husband Clint emerged from the house with their three children and met them at the bottom of their porch steps. Matthew and Mark, twins about a year older than .J.J., were hugging Jimmy’s legs and their eighteen month old Eve clung to Lauren’s hip.
“Boys!” she scolded “get off your uncles legs! Y’all act like a bunch of heathens.” She ruffled their heads. “Go get J.J.’s coat.”
Jimmy set him down and the three boys marched back to the house. “Was he alright” he asked.
Lauren looked over her shoulder watching them run back into the house, and then emerge seconds later with J.J.’s blue jacket. She shifted Eve from one hip to the other. “Yeah, you know J.J.’s the best behaved out of those three.” She looked back at Jimmy and Lori. “He was great.”
Jimmy loaded their wriggling child into his booster seat and shut the door. Then he and Lori climbed into the front seat, he behind the wheel.
Clint leaned into the passenger window and said “Did y’all hear about the little league field?”
They both shook their heads.
“That old man, Dalton Jolly owned it up until he died a couple months back.”
Jimmy and Lori both nodded.
“Well everyone thought he was gonna give it to the parks and recreation when he died, but it looks like he never got around to getting all the paperwork done. Now it looks like they’re gonna sell it. There’s a developer interested in it to build zero lot houses and shit. It’s fucking ridiculous!”
“Clint!” Lauren snapped, “Watch your damn mouth!”
“Sorry” he said and hung his head further into the truck so he could see J.J. in the back seat. “Sorry buddy.”
“It’s okay” J.J. said grinning at him.
“Anyway, there’s a meeting at the church tomorrow night at seven thirty to talk about what we should do about it, or really what we can do about it if you wanna go.”
Jimmy nodded and they agreed to meet and ride up there together with the boys.
Clint patted the truck before stepping away. They waved as Jimmy and Lori pulled away and she couldn’t help but think about how different their goodbyes would be in just a few weeks.
Later that evening, after dinner and after J.J. had been tucked into bed with a story and prayers, Lori stood at the sink working through the dishes and Jimmy sat at the kitchen island working on the computer and sifting through papers. He cleared his throat. “Hey Granger,” he said readjusting his baseball cap so that it sat backwards and his hair poked through the hole. “Can we talk about something?”
For a moment she froze where she stood and the glass she’d been working her sponge over slipped from her hand and back into the soapy water.
“Sure,” she managed to say as evenly as possible.
“What do you think about buying the land that the ball field is on?” He pushed straight through the place where there should have been silence before she could object. “I’ve been working through the numbers over here and it’d be tight for the first couple of years, but I think we could do it.” He looked at her back waiting for some kind of reaction. “It’d be an investment Granger.”
Her heart sank and rose all in the same moment and the truth ran like ice through her vanes. She shook her head slowly without turning to him, being careful not to give away too much. “Jimmy we can’t.” Even with the heat from the dish water rising up from the sink she felt herself begin to shake. “We can’t afford it.”
“Yes we can, he said turning the laptop screen to face her back. “Like I said, I’ve been going through the numbers and I really think we can if we did it as an investment property. We could lease it as a field to the city just like Dalton Jolly did.”
His excitement pushed at her insides and without warning she whipped around from the sink, her hands dripping soap onto the kitchen floor at her feet. “No Jimmy! We already have hardly enough to pay the bills we have and now you want to go adding to that. It’s not just a ball field. It’s the upkeep; it’s grading, and grounds keeping, and a utility bill, and building upkeep.” With each word she pressed down on another finger slinging even more water onto the floor. Then there’s a deposit, and payments, and insurance, not to mention your time, which you hardly have any of as it is, so No!”
Her face was hot and her arms were as out of control as her voice. ‘And you’re sick,’ she wanted to scream. ‘You’re sick and you’re dieing and I can’t do this without you!’ she said inside herself, deep in the places that only she could see and hear.
She turned back to the soaking dishes. “I mean… God… I can’t believe you’d even think of something like that right now, let alone say it out loud!”
She poured her frustration into a submerged casserole dish.
Jimmy pushed himself off the stool and stood with his back pressed against the refrigerator. “Okay,” he said folding his arms against his chest. “I’m gonna go to that meeting tomorrow night with Clint and hopefully something will come of that where the city will step in,” His voice was calm, but his tone was deliberate. He slid his back along the counter till he was only a few feet away from her. “But I’m not going to let some developer come in and build houses over the ball field.” He slid closer to her till they were almost touching. “I mean I kissed you for the first time in the visitors dug out. There’s no way in hell I’m gonna let some builder put a gated community over top of that.”
Lori’s head hung loose and her chin touched her chest as she started to cry “I’m just scared” she said through her tears.
He pulled her close. “I know” he said wrapping her soapy arms around his waist and pulling her all the way to him. He kissed the top of her head and breathed in the scent of her hair. “We’ll figure it out, just like we always do.”
Note To Reader: It’s your turn again. Use the comments section to let me know which path to choose. You have till Tuesday August 11th at midnight to pick-a-path.
Path A: Jimmy and Lori will step in and buy the baseball field.
Path B: Jimmy and Lori will not buy the land and let the town decide what happens to the field.
Till next time,