#2 – Three Lunches
It was precisely 9:00 a.m. when he stepped off the elevator, it was always 9:00 am when he stepped off the elevator. He proceeded through the receptionists’ lobby, as he did every other day, he nodded at the guard as he passed the security desk.
The lobby was laid out in a long rectangle with a large fountain cutting it in half, a false skylight lit the ceiling. A large set of mahogany and gold doors were inset on the wall opposite the elevator. Either side of the lobby was emblazoned with the logo of Jordan Enterprises. The names off its constituent subsidiaries were scattered throughout the vast room.
The doorman pulled the door open for him as he approached. Oliver clasped the brim of his fedora and nodded his head briskly as he breezed past; no words were exchanged, as was their convention.
The large office was framed by windows that looked out over all of Emerald Heights. The Jordan Tower was the tallest building for a hundred miles in any direction. A massively ornate desk adorned a corner of the room, presented at an angle such that he could enjoy the view while he worked.
He removed his dark blue suit coat and put it in the closet, on the same hanger from which it had been removed the evening before. Once seated behind his desk he directly set about picking up from where he left on the previous day.
Thirteen minutes has elapsed from the time he had sat down until there was a soft rap at the door and his secretary, Vanessa Cartwright, entered carrying his morning coffee – black and hot – and a copy of the Emerald Heights Tribune. “Good morning, Mr. Jordan,” she said as she always did.
“Good morning Vanessa.” He responded, taking his first sip of his coffee. She walked around to the other side of the desk and pressed the power button on Oliver’s computer. “You have the executive committee at 10:00,” she began, “then there is a teleconference with Senator Taylor at 10:45, the advisers will be here for a lunch meeting and that should get us ’til noon.”
“Can you switch Charles and the advisers? I would like to speak with them before I talk with the Senator. Make our phone call a lunch.” Oliver replied.
“I believe he’s in Washington, sir, the Senate is in session.”
“Right.” Oliver mused, “send the plane for him.”
“Where is she?” She said out loud, for the third time in the last two minutes, as she studied her watch. An older lady at the table nearest her’s glanced her way and smiled having heard the woman speak but not hearing the words. “She’s usually on time,” Sarah explained. “We were just supposed to, y’know, meet for a quick lunch and then I am going back to work.”
The woman stood and changed tables.
“Rude,” Sarah said as she began to drum her fingers on the table.
Kerstin slipped up behind her long-time friend and tapped her on the shoulder, “I am so sorry,” she professed. She could have accurately guessed exactly what had transpired before her arrival; Sarah was not known for her patience, or quietness.
“I have been here forever!”
Kerstin raised an eyebrow, “I’m eight minutes late. And I’m sorry. I was looking at an apartment.”
“It has been longer than… wait, what?”
“An apartment,” Kerstin smiled broadly. “I’m actually going to do it this time.”
“Uh huh,” Sarah replied, “do you remember the last time? The idea of renting from your Dad nearly drove you into sweatpants.” There was no more serious indicator of failing mental health than sweatpants for Sarah Price.
“This place isn’t Waterford,” Kerstin beamed like she had discovered a diamond in her Cheerios.
“Charles, sit, please,” Oliver gestured cordially to the seat across from him.
The President’s dining room at Jordan Tower was well appointed with dark wood panelling on the walls, rich tapestries and shining silver adornments in every corner. It was amongst Oliver’s favourite places and by far his favourite place to do “casual” business.
“Something has changed, this is not our usual Tuesday meeting,” Charles mused.
Oliver nodded slowly as the porter poured them a glass of wine and set their first course in front of them. “Something has changed,” he said as the older man cleared the room, “we had a meeting of the board this morning. Weston isn’t getting any DOD contracts for this new plane.” Oliver’s gaze told the real story.
“There’s a new Congress,” Charles began, “there’s a Democrat in the White House now. We haven’t been in the majority for four years, I’m facing a primary challenge…” Oliver cut him off.
“That was not our deal, Charles.” Oliver stated levelly. “You’re the ranking member of that Committee, the chairman is a reasonable man; so is the Secretary. You are supposed to make this work. I have 3,000 employees who are your constituents.”
Senator Taylor pushed his food around his plate while under the serious gaze of Oliver Jordan. “It is going to take… persuasion. But I can get it done. The DOD recommendations aren’t final.”
“I know,” Oliver replied coolly. “It has to happen, Charles. You know the deal.” He paused for a moment, “this is good for you Charles, you can campaign on this in the fall.”
The Senator nodded.
“Good,” Oliver said, his posture changing almost as instantly as he changed the subject, “in other news Jordan is days away from a big announcement.”
“Yeah, I might need some help with regulators, but we’ll talk about that next week,” Oliver thoughtfully chewed on his steak. “Jordan Enterprises will soon be the largest landowner in Massachusetts.”
Charles looked up from his plate with a raised eyebrow, “Waterford, then?”
“Good afternoon, Daddy,” she said as she leaned over and kissed the older man on his forehead.
“Afternoon, princess,” the older man replied.
Richard McKinelle’s ornate white patio table was lost under a heap of papers, pictures, files and a few boxes. “What is all this?” Leticia inquired as she pulled a chair around to sit beside him. She sat clasping a cup of coffee in both hands, her fingers interlaced.
“Records, Pet, records,” Richard replied, “notes and jottings, ledgers and invoices of the days gone by. This is how your Old Man reminisces.”
“You are not old, Daddy,” she said as she reached out and touched his cheek. He looked pale, she thought. He had looked pale the day before as well.
“Ah, you are sweet to a dying old man,” he replied matter-of-factly and patted his hand on hers. “I want to go through these things, these memories. I want you to know what they mean, Leticia, so that you can remember…” his voice cracked and he coughed slightly, “remember what this old man accomplished in his hey day.”
“I remember Daddy,” she said solemnly, before adding, “but we’re not done making memories yet.” She forced herself to smile. She pushed herself up out of the chair. “Have you eaten?”
“I haven’t,” he replied.
“I thought as much,” she stated, as if on cue the house servant entered the courtyard with a rolling cart laden with platters. “Perfect timing,” she announced, “let’s clear a little space.”
Richard had wrinkled his nose when the meal prepared for him was presented. His cancer was terminal and everyone knew it, yet the doctors insisted that he observe strict dietary restrictions aimed to help him live longer – like a week more or less would seem like any difference at all in the grand scheme of things. But he abided the orders. He did it for his daughter, it seemed to make her happy.
They talked over lunch, they laughed, the reminisced. Richard variously grabbed photos and receipts from within the great vortex of stuff strewn across the table and recounted its significance to his youngest child. It seemed to lighten his load with each tale. Leticia could almost see colour come back into his cheeks as he talked about the time they went to Cancun, or the explorations of the catacombs in Rome. She laughed out loud at a tale that included her brother tumbling into an unmarked tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
As the story about what drew the McKinelle clan to Emerald Heights was reaching its crescendo a voice broke through the courtyard. “Honey! I’m home,” it announced.
Richard turned his re-enlivened face, fresh from the remembrance of glory days of yore, toward the source of the voice. “Oh!” He exclaimed, “Leticia, your mother is home.”
Leticia bristled. That woman is not my mother!, she screamed inside her head.Tags:Kerstin Waterford, Leticia McKinelle-Glendale, Oliver Jordan, Richard McKinelle, Sarah Price, Senator Charles Taylor