He sat in his chair, deep in thought. “I should get home, my sweetie will have dinner ready by now!” But the thoughts kept their rhythm strong in his mind. He knew he should do something, try something – his conscience seemed to demand it. Finally, he made the calls – all 35 of them – same message each time . . .
“Guys – I need you here by noon, day after tomorrow. Call the office in the AM, they will approve any flight you can get. Lodging will be taken care of as well. Thanks!”
No one complained, and given the shock his call probably caused, no one asked questions. “That was a small blessing!” – he mused to himself. He didn’t yet have all the answers he wanted. He pondered it all for a few minutes, and finally he called his former partner, who was now with a small subsidiary in south Texas – a quiet fellow who, when he quietly spoke, spoke volumes anyway.
“Paul – I need you here tomorrow. In fact, I will pay out-of-pocket and fete you if you catch the midnight red-eye tonight. I need to talk. I’ve called the other 35 – everyone will be in the meeting at noon, day after tomorrow. But I need you here tomorrow! We did some massive, very successful work when you were with me, and I need your sober reflections right now, more than ever. I need tomorrow to bend your ear. Please?”
He knew old Paul – the line went quiet, save for the sound of the keyboard in the background. After what seemed an eternity but was only about two minutes, Paul spoke:
“Pick me up at Lambert about 3;15am – five hours from now. I’ll drink my coffee, too. I more than suspect we’ll make a long night and day of it.”
Goodbyes were exchanged, and he hung up. “I have to get home and eat – dinner by microwave again!” He glanced at his watch – 10:30pm. Only three hours late. But his bride understood these things – she had from the beginning. ” I married extremely well!” he thought to himself, and smiled. His thoughts drifted off . . .
He sat, still in his workday best, sitting on pins and needles near the exit Paul would use. Then – there he was, his diminutive self – all 5’8″ of him that really stood seven-foot tall in the rough times. Their hug was as manly, yet genuine, as one could see. “I’ve got my partner again!” The thought settled him greatly, and they drove to the house. More food, coffee on tap, and then they began talking until late that next night. Paul was on board, without reservation.
They both slept as though they had nary a worry on their mind.
In the morning – they left after two pots of coffee, getting to the office early. This would be a bit of a change – rarely did they meet at HQ. It was usually at the ball room of a given hotel. He had a real nice buffet lunch brought in, and the execs seemed to arrive en mass about an hour early. “Guess they knew there would be some good food.” He greeted each warmly and thanked them for their effort to be there on such short notice. But he noticed that, to a man, they were quite subdued. He told them that he and Paul were going to eat in his office and cover some last-minute details. Everyone settled in for lunch.
In the office, they discussed the final approach, and Paul simply said: “Do it he way you have always done it. Say your piece, and let the chips fall where they may!” He was glad Paul was his usual “steady as the proverbial rock” self. On the other hand, he was a bundle of nerves. None before, nor he, had ever attempted something this huge, and breath-taking!
The meeting began. He simply walked around, handing out the newspaper article as if he were an usher in a church handing out bulletins. No one spoke. They read it. Had he looked closely, he would have seen the gleam of understanding seemed to come into the exec’s eyes at almost the very same moment. One of them stood, made a motion to approve, and as one voice, the yea’s were sounded. A unanimous show of support then followed, and every man stood. He was shook. Not a word of his planned speech, pointing out all the pros AND cons, had to be said. “These 35 – normally, getting agreement from them was like herding cats! What was this now?”
The one motioning for the vote said simply – “Get us set up with a bank of phones for the next 3-4 days. We have many calls to make back home.”
He assured them it would be done by dinner, and the 35 left to go on a tour of HQ, and greet old friends. He stood there drained – speechless – and wondering if this was some sort of dream? The 35 agreed to something just like that. He looked in amazement over to Paul. Paul was his always effusive self – he shrugged his shoulders.
He called his secretary – who could move the earth if necessary, and told him he need the numbers at the hotel set up to allow the exec’s extensive number of LD calls out. She promised she would leave now to make the arrangements, which were easy. Her sister managed the hotel. She asked for the afternoon off and got it from the Big Guy many times over. She smiled on her way out –
“I’ve seen him act crazy before, but he is over the top today! I wonder what was said in that meeting – they weren’t in there but 15 minutes!”
She smiled again and left to see her sister. They had promised each other to do dinner, and the hotel had a 4-star restaurant. “How to make work into playtime!” – she thought.
“Paul” he said, his voice almost cracking, “I think I need a drink or three – up for it?” Paul smiled – now the Big Guy was making some sense. There was the tavern across from Busch Stadium. All fans. No one would care they were there. Worth the drive and anonymity. They called a cab, and were off. and running.
The next day, he paced his office. He had asked the guys to call in from time to time, but now, more to their usual way of doing things, they were ignoring him. “At least I know how to deal with that!” he chuckled to himself. He smiled – last night, Paul had gotten party-ish, and was as giddy as he (or as giddy as he had ever seen Paul!) and they took the cab home, laughing all the way.
Nothing from the execs at the hotel, until Thursday afternoon. They marched into HQ, and took their seats. One of them stood before him and Paul and said “We have come to a decision. We are going to deliver a press release to the Post-Dispatch. They could use a scoop.”
Then, to a man, they shook his hand and Paul’s, picked up their tickets from his secretary, and were gone. He was numb, and for once, Paul looked disturbed. This time they went home for the drinks. He wasn’t sure of himself and didn’t really want to be in public tonight.
Sleep never came fully. He tossed and turned, and finally at 5am, he went down and made coffee. The Post Dispatch would have their early morning edition online in a minute or two. He took his cup, and went to the computer. He let Paul be – he was sleeping soundly, as always. He powered up, opened his browser, and clicked on his favorites. With almost fear and trepidation, he click on Past-Dispatch.
There it was! the whole thing – form the first phone call Monday evening by the exec’s, to the call to the White House late yesterday. The sudden thaw between Trump and Syria. He had even called Putin, and they agreed to meet in Vienna next week. Assad had been contacted and was happily agreeable. The transport planes would be supplied by Syria, Russia and the US, and Israel had volunteered planes as well. President Trumps staff went into over-drive as well – his staff had gone right to work, and there would be all kinds of planes landing at Lambert next week. Processing had been all arranged to be done and coordinated down to the level of each subsidiary in Syria before anyone left. Over half of the 6000 subsidiaries had already volunteered, but all 6000 had promised to do whatever they could. Trump would be in later that very afternoon! Everyone was on board – his tears began to flow. When had they ever been unanimous? His eyes went back to the headlines, and through his tears he read it again – it took up all of Page one:
LCMS, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, AND SYRIA COME TO HISTORIC AGREEMENT! 40,000 SYRIAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES TO ARRIVE IN ST. LOUIS LATE NEXT WEEK!
His hands were shaking as he reached for his coffee mug, and he clumsily knocked the already empty mug to the floor. He reached over to pick it up, and when He sat up, he was in his office, the clock read midnight. It was still Monday night, but now he was really late for dinner. He wiped his still flowing tears, turned out his desk lamp, and closed his office door on his way out.
Matt Harrison was going home for dinner.
*The Great Divorce
ref. – Breitbart