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Second Time Around

Chapter 32

By Arli J

Edited by Radio Rancher
Based on Characters from Pinochle, by E Walk

As short as the time with Beau's family had been, we both felt tired out, so after room service had delivered our lunch, we sat down and ate our sandwiches—really good chicken salad!--and then relaxed with our coffee. We really had no plans, now that our guests were gone, so we decided to take a nap.

When we woke up, the sun was low in the sky, and it felt a little cooler than it had been earlier. I gave Gregg a grin.

"How would you feel about taking a little walk, and maybe going out somewhere for dinner..., say, to the Parthenon?"

"Oh, yeah! I can get some good meat loaf!" His smile more than repaid me for the effort of going out. I was still tired, even after a nap, but if this would make Gregg happy, I was certainly ready to go.

When we got down to the lobby, Bill was on duty. I told him that we were going out to dinner. Gregg was beaming.

"To the Parthenon!"

Bill grinned. "Let me guess! Meat loaf, and...dolmades?" Gregg was nodding excitedly, like a little kid going out for ice cream. I thought about the idea for a few seconds.

"I hadn't thought about that, but it's a good idea. I had never had those before, and I really liked them."

Bill grinned. "Well, enjoy your dinner, guys." The phone rang just then, so we left, as he was taking the call. He waved to us as we went out the door.

There was a slight breeze stirring, making the evening very pleasant for a walk, so we took our time on the way to the restaurant. When we arrived, the hostess seated us, and we placed our orders with the pretty young waitress who served us. We even got daring and ordered a glass of Greek wine, retsina, with our dinner.

After dinner, we decided to just take a walk around town. We strolled along the streets, looking in store windows, chatting aimlessly, until our dinner was settled. Then we went back to the motel and settled in to watch a little TV, something we rarely did. By 9:30 we were both nodding and beginning to doze in our chairs, so we went to bed.

We were up early the next morning, and we decided to have coffee in our room before we went downstairs to start the day. The coffee arrived with a couple of those warm, delicious pastries we had enjoyed the day before. As we sat, sipping our coffee, Gregg suddenly gave me one of his intense looks.

"Harley, we've got to make some plans. There are a lot of things we have to do before we can move into our new house."

"Well, buying it might be a good start, don't you think?"

He gave me a startled look, then grinned. "You're making fun of me, aren't you?"

"No, Gregg, I wasn't making fun of you. And you're right, we need to take some time to plan what we have to do. What do you think of making a list, like the one we did before we went to Fremont?"

He nodded eagerly. "Yes, I think that's a very good idea!" He jumped up from the table and went over to the desk. He was back in a minute with a sheet of paper and a pen. He sat back down with his coffee and shoved the paper and pen across the table to me. I had a sudden flashback to the previous list, with 'Watermelon' printed prominently at the top. Then, unbidden, the picture of Gregg standing helpless and bereft on the steps to the airplane, looking down at the shattered melon lying on the tarmac below him flashed through my mind, and I couldn't help grinning.

He gave me a sharp look. "What's so funny?"

I struggled for control and spoke in the most soothing tone I could manage. "Nothing, Gregg, it wasn't anything." His look told me that he didn't believe me, but fortunately he decided to drop it.

I picked up the pen. "Let's see, the first thing we have to do is find the bank and open our account, so we can deposit our checks. Would you like to have separate accounts?"

"I've thought about that, but you know, at our ages, we can't ever be sure what's going to happen. If something happened to either one of us, the other one couldn't get to the money in his account for months. If we have one account, in both our names, either one of us can draw on it." He was looking very serious now.

"You know, I think you're right. That makes a lot of sense." I wrote on the paper: 'Open joint checking account.' "Now, there's another little item we need to take care of first. We have to find out where the bank is."

He grinned. "I'll bet Dave can tell us!"


Our bus driver. The one who told us about Rosie's diner."

"Right! And that brings up another question: what time do we need to leave to get to Camp Verde in time to open the account and meet Art at Mrs. Morton's house—our house?"

"I've been thinking about that. We have to meet them at 1:00. If we take the bus from here at 11:30, we should be there before noon. That will give us time to go to the bank and have lunch before we have to meet Art."

"OK. And we have to call the company that's moving our stuff here, and tell them where to deliver it. I'm going to have to call Beau and Becca for the phone number. But we probably shouldn't do that before we actually own the house."

We continued our list of things we had to remember to do, contacting the utilities to have them put in our names, arranging for a change of address with the post office, having a phone installed and TV cable connected. It would probably be a busy week or two before we could settle in and just enjoy our new home. But we were both getting excited about the prospects now.

When we finished making our list of things to do, we went down to the restaurant for breakfast. Joey was his usual bubbly, entertaining self, and we dawdled with our coffee, talking to him when he was free, learning more about his family and his plans for the future.

When we returned to our room, we just settled into the big chairs and chatted, reminiscing about our past lives before we met. We were still learning about each other, and every new thing I learned about Gregg only drew me closer to him.

When we were ready for lunch, we decided to go back to the motel restaurant. Joey seemed glad to see us, and the service was, if anything, better than his usual excellent service. After lunch we decided on a nap. When we got up, it was almost time for dinner, so we went back downstairs. Joey was surprised to see us three times in the same day, but he made sure that we had everything we needed. Of course, we both tipped him well, but we felt that he needed the money.

After dinner we took a short walk. I was watching to see how Gregg's leg was acting. The limp, which had come back yesterday, seemed to have almost disappeared. That made me feel much better. When we got back to the motel, we watched TV for a while, and then we went to bed. Gregg snuggled close to me.

"Harley, I can't tell you how happy you make me." I grinned at him in the dark.

"That's my job, Gregg, to make you happy, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep you happy."

I could almost hear his warm smile. "I love you, Harley." He burrowed his nose in the hollow of my neck and fell asleep. I wrapped my arm around him and pulled him close to me, as I fell asleep, too.

We were both awake really early next morning. This was the day!

Gregg was wound up tighter than the high E string on a violin. I couldn't say anything, though, because I don't remember the last time I was so excited about something. We had coffee sent up before the restaurant opened, and we were the first ones in for breakfast. Gregg was so excited; he just couldn't stop talking about our plans for the day, and Joey was really amused by his comments.

Going to breakfast early might have been a mistake, because, when we returned to our room, we had several hours to kill before it was time to catch the bus for Camp Verde. I finally managed to talk Gregg out of packing our things, so that we'd be ready to move in as soon as the house was ours. I pointed out to him that we owed Mrs. Morton the courtesy of giving her time to pack and move. After all, she and her late husband had lived there for quite a few years.

Finally, just before I strangled Gregg, it was time to go down and get to the bus stop. We made sure that we had our checks for deposit and our personal identification, including our bank cards from Fremont. We wanted to transfer our bank accounts to our new account, so we tried to remember everything we might need.

As we went through the lobby, Bill waved to us and called, "Good luck, fellows!" We waved back with our thanks and hurried out to the bus stop. We had only been there a couple of minutes, when the tour bus to Camp Verde arrived.

Dave, the driver, apparently remembered us from our last trip. "Good morning, guys! Going back to look at your new house again?"

Gregg pushed me into the window seat by the front door and sat where he could talk to Dave. Again, we were the only passengers on the trip. His excited monologue of our plans for the day, and for the near future, kept Dave amused all the way into Camp Verde. I sat and stared out the window. At least, now I could tune out some of his conversation.

When we stopped opposite Rosie's diner, I spoke to Dave. "You did say that you live here, too, didn't you?"

"Sure do, and I love this little town!"

"Can you tell me how to get to the bank from here?"

"No problem." He pointed down the street in the direction we were headed. "Just two blocks down, and it's right around the corner on your right."

"Thanks, Dave." We got off the bus, and. as he pulled out for his return trip, we started down the street toward the bank. It only took us a couple of minutes to get there, and we were greeted by a very pleasant young lady, who introduced herself as Mira. When we explained what we wanted to do, she reached into her desk drawer and pulled out several papers. She agreed with us that, in our situation, a joint account might be the best way to go. It only took her a few minutes to fill out the forms, and we handed over our checks, after signing them "For deposit only," as she suggested.

Mira made photocopies of our bank cards from Nebraska and put the copies with our paperwork. She smiled when we told her that we were planning to buy Mrs. Morton's house.

"Oh, I'm so happy for her. Now she can go and live with her sister." Did everyone in this town know everything about everyone else? I wasn't sure that I was happy about that idea.

Mira told us that she would contact our bank in Fremont this afternoon, and our accounts would be transferred overnight. Any checks that we wrote today would clear the bank tomorrow. By combining our accounts, we had enough to pay for the house, but it would draw our balance down rather low. As soon as the checks we had just deposited cleared, we'd be in good shape again, so we really weren't worried.

Mira gave us her business card, with her phone number at the bank. "If you have any questions or problems, just give me a call." She stood and shook hands with both of us.

"Welcome to Camp Verde. We hope you'll be happy here."

Gregg grinned. "I'm already happy. We've met such nice people in just the short time we've been here."

We had talked about having lunch at Rosie's diner before we went to the house, but when I looked at my watch, it didn't look as if we'd have enough time. We had about a twenty minute walk to the house, and I was still worried about Gregg's leg, and I wanted him to take his time. I suggested that we might want to go take care of our business before we had lunch, and Gregg agreed enthusiastically. He was so excited about the house, and I hid my concerns about his leg, but I did keep a surreptitious eye on him, as we walked up the street.

When we rounded the corner, we saw Art's car pull up in front of the house. It looked as if we had timed everything just right. Art got out of his car and waited for us to join him. Mrs. Morton had apparently been watching for us, because the front door opened as we went up the walk.

There were four tall glasses of iced tea sitting on the table, so we sat down. She had baked cookies—oatmeal raisin, my favorites!--so we all sat and relaxed for a few minutes. Then Art picked up his briefcase, which was sitting beside his chair, and pulled out a folder full of papers. He pulled out the sales contracts and explained them to all of us, in detail. He filled in Mrs. Morton's name as the seller, and turned to us.

"Whose name should I put as the buyer?"

Gregg looked at me, so I answered, "Please put us down as co-owners. We've talked it over, and we figure that, given our ages, if something should happen to one of us, we want to be sure that the other is safe, that he'll still have his home."

Art smiled. "Well, that sure makes sense to me!"

Mrs. Morton nodded. "I agree with you. And, before I forget to tell you, I have talked with my sister. Her oldest son is coming up tomorrow to get me. He's bringing his van, so that we can pack what I'm taking with me. He'll probably arrive late afternoon, and we'll have everything packed, so that we can leave early Wednesday morning. I hope that will work out for you."

"That will be just fine. I'll have to call Fremont tonight and arrange for the truck to bring our things and Gregg's car. Even if they leave early tomorrow, they won't be here before late Wednesday or sometime Thursday. So, you don't need to hurry to move on our account."

She sighed and dabbed at her eyes with a hanky. "I just want to get this over with. It's going to be hard to leave, but I know that there is no way I could keep up this place by myself. And I wouldn't want to live here without Clinton." There were a few moments of silence, before Art cleared his throat.

"Well, all I need now are your signatures, and we're finished—with the paperwork, at least." He grinned at me. "There's the little matter of money."

Mrs. Morton went to the bedroom to get her reading glasses. While she was gone, I leaned closer to Art, so that I could speak quietly. "How much is your commission on the sale? I know that the seller usually pays the agent's commission, but we're getting such a good deal on the house and the furniture that I really want to take care of the commission."

Gregg nodded enthusiastically. "I agree completely." He pulled our new checkbook out of his pocket and handed it to me. I always carry a pen in my shirt pocket, so I grabbed it and started writing a check to Mrs. Morton for the price of the house. Art jotted something on a post-it and handed it to me. I looked at it and nodded. As soon as I finished the check for the house, I tore it out of the checkbook and wrote another check to Art for the commission. I had just handed it to him, when Mrs. Morton returned.

She sat back down at the table and looked over the seller's contract which Art had given her. "I really don't understand all this legal stuff. Clinton took care of most of our business. But I'm sure I can trust you." She smiled at Art. "You have an honest face."

"Well, thank you, ma'am! I also have a cousin who would break both my arms, if I ever cheated a client!"

Gregg and I were grinning. We both remembered what Bill had told us.

Gregg was looking over my shoulder, as I read quickly through the terms of the purchase contract. When he nodded, I took out my pen and signed the contract. I handed it to Art and passed the check over to Mrs. Morton. She signed the seller's contract and passed it to Art. Then she fumbled in her apron pocket and pulled out a small key ring with four keys on it. She pulled one of the keys off the ring and handed it to me.

"This is the key to the front door. I have the other one and both keys to the back door. I'll leave them here on the table, when I leave, and lock the house."

"Thank you, Mrs. Morton. I hope that things go well with you and your sister."

"I'm sure they will. We were always close growing up, until we both married and went in different directions. We haven't seen much of each other over the years, but we've remained close, in spirit, at least. I'm really looking forward to spending time with her."

Art slipped the completed contracts back into the folder and put it in his brief case. "I'll make copies of both of these contracts and send them to you. Mrs. Morton, I'll need your new address, if you don't mind." He handed her the pad of post-its, and she wrote the address and phone number of her sister. Art took the note and stuck it to the folder with the contracts. Then he zipped up his brief case and stood up.

"I guess that takes care of everything. So, we don't need to take up any more of your time, Mrs. Morton." He handed her one of his business cards. "You can get in touch with me, if you have any questions."

We all got up from the table. Mrs. Morton shook hands with all of us, and we left. Outside, Art said, "If you don't have anything else to do here, I'd be glad to drop you off on my way back to my office."

I glanced at Gregg. He was grinning and nodding. "OK, that would be great. We've missed the 2:45 bus, and the next one is at 5:45."

We got into Art's car. I made sure that Gregg sat in front with Art, so that he would have more room to stretch out his leg. On the way back, Art was telling us about some of the interesting things we could see and do in the area, once our car arrived. When we got back to the motel, Art shook hands with both of us.

"Thanks for the commission check. You're really a couple of special guys; you didn't have to do that, you know."

"I know, but I couldn't see adding any more strain to that poor lady. Her life is already torn up, as it is." I gave him a weak grin and shrugged my shoulders.

"Well, you're still pretty special, both of you, and if I can ever do anything to help you , you have my card. Just give me a call. I hope you'll be happy here."

Gregg gave him a big smile. "I think we're already happy here; at least, I know that I'm happy!"

I just nodded. "Me, too."

When we got back into the motel, I looked at Gregg. "You realize, don't you , that we missed lunch! Are you hungry?"

"Not really. What about you?"

"I'm not really hungry. I'd just like to grab a cup of coffee and relax for a while. All this excitement is kind of hard on an old man."

He snorted. "'Old man'! Right!" Then he giggled. I shoved him ahead of me, as we went into the restaurant and found a table. It was mid-afternoon, so we were the only customers, and Joey wouldn't be in until the dinner hour. A very pleasant young lady brought our coffee, and we sat and chatted about our plans for the next few weeks. I suddenly realized that I needed to make a phone call.

We went up to our room, and I called the Bensons. Becca answered the phone.

"Hey, Becca! We're house-owners now!"

I could hear her delighted squeal and Beau's voice in the background, asking what was going on.

"That's wonderful, Harley! When do you take possession?"

"Mrs. Morton's nephew is coming to take her and her stuff. He should be there late tomorrow or early Wednesday. They'll be leaving on Wednesday, and she gave us a key, so we can get in any time after that."

"Oh, Harley, I'm just so happy for both of you!"

"Yeah, we're kind of happy about it, too. But I need you to do us a favor, if you would. Would you mind calling the movers and asking them to bring the car and our stuff down here?"

Beau had apparently been listening in on the conversation, because he spoke up now:

"Got it covered, Harley, my man. I just knew everything was going to work out for you, so I called them this morning. The truck will be leaving first thing tomorrow morning, and they should be there sometime on Thursday." He paused, then continued, "Oh, and don't let them try to charge you for the move. It's all taken care of!"

"Beau! You didn't need to do that!"

"I know I didn't need to do it, but what's a friend for, if he can't help out a friend once in a while?" He chuckled.

Gregg got on the phone and talked to them for a few minutes, and then I spoke to each of them again. When we hung up, Gregg gave me a big grin. "Well, Harley, it's only a couple of days, now, and we'll be in our new home."

Yes, and I just realized something. When we met, we lived in my house, in Ithaca. Then we lived in your house, in Fremont. But now we'll be living in our house!"

He gave me a warm smile. "Yeah, ain't it great!"

We sat and shared our plans and dreams until it was time to go down to the restaurant for dinner. Gregg couldn't wait to tell Joey the news about the house. After dinner, we stopped at the desk to tell Bill. He seemed happy for us, but there was something in his voice that made me wonder.

"I'm really glad you guys got the house you wanted, but we'll kind of miss you here. You've become friends more than guests at the motel. We won't be seeing you much any more. I hope you'll at least stop in and say hello once in a while."

We assured him that we would do just that, and we invited him to come visit us, once we got settled. That seemed to cheer him a little.

We went upstairs and settled down to watch a little TV until bedtime. When we got into bed, Gregg cuddled up to me.

"I just can't tell you how happy I am right now, and how much I love you."

I pulled him closer and moved so that I could kiss him. "And I love you, too. I hope you know that." We shared a gentle kiss which gradually grew more passionate.

An hour or so later, we were clinging together, waiting for our breathing to return to normal. Gregg snickered. "'Old man,' huh? I think not!" Then he giggled and snuggled even closer to me.

"Harley," he whispered in my ear. "There's an old song that's been going through my head. I really think they wrote it just for us." He began to sing softly:

"There are those who'll bet

Love comes but once, and yet,

I'm, oh, so glad we met

The second time around."

Editor's Notes: Wow! I'm crying, Arli. That was beautiful. I don't know what else to say. Oh, yeah, I do know what to say, I WANT MORE!!!

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher.

Author's Footnote: This is the final chapter of "Second Time Around." I could have continued a little longer (and my editor is upset because I didn't!), but this seemed a good place to leave the guys, living in a new place, starting a new life with new friends. Thanks to you who have followed them through their adventures.

Arli J

Editor's answer to Arli's Footnote: I understand that Arli has decided that this was the best place to stop telling the story. I accept that the guys are now living in their new home and that their lives can begin anew.

I, however, still want to know more about these wonderful people.

I know that a good number or you feel the same way I do, and I certainly hope that you let Arli know how you feel about it.

Having said that, I certainly hope that you will be polite and caring toward Arli. Believe me when I tell you that Those people mean a great deal to Arli. They have helped him through a very difficult time in his life.

Right now, and at least, for some time to come, Arli doesn't feel comfortable writing any more of their adventures. As I said to him, I won't try to force him to continue that story.

Give him some time, and maybe later, he will write a new story about the guys, or, he may not.

I, however, will continue to keep track of what they are doing, and if, after sufficient time has passed, I have gathered enough new material about them, to tell you more, I will write about them, myself. Don't worry, I won't write anything that Arli wouldn't approve. These guys are still his people. They always will be, even if I write more about them. They are simply going to start telling me some of their adventures, and I will relay it to you.

A long time ago, Arli gave me permission to keep telling the story. I chose to wait until everyone had a chance to read all that Arli had to say, before I even considered starting another story about them. Notice that I didn't use the word CHARACTERS! Arli doesn't write stories with characters. He writes about people. Not many authors can do that.

As I said, don't give up on these guys, because, one way or another, there will at least be an epilogue to tie up some loose ends.

Thank you for reading this wonderful story that we have all fallen in love with, and please let Arli Know what you think of this story.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher