Faithful readers, we are pulling into the train stop, just around the corner. I’m very happy with how well behaved all my various characters have become and how they brought me such a fun and satisfactory ending (at least I think so) and I hope that you will enjoy the ending as much as I do. It’s practically all written, so I should be able to put up the remaining episodes just a few days apart. (I can’t after all give it to you all at once!) Will I sound to Lostian if I say that there are plenty of revelations still to come in our final two episodes?
The Brew Stopwas only just around the corner, and yet for five years, since he’d taken the position of Brown & McCormick’s elevator man, Otis had never once set foot in the coffee shop: five years to the day, he suddenly realized with a shock. So much of his life before that was lost to him, not exactly forgotten, but assiduously avoided. Otis was a man capable of great focus, meaning, in his case, a strong ability to push into the background anything he wished not to focus on. Those who rode in his elevator benefitted from this focus. When he was talking to them, he was really with them. This ability had also benefitted him in his life before…but this life was almost entirely lost to him now, receded to the background almost to the point of invisibility. That was until this day, this strangest of all days, until, in fact, that moment Merlot had mentioned the one thing that never completely receded from from his focus…his daughter.
As Otis and Mrs. Jenkins exited Brown and McCormick, he felt a sort of panic he hadn’t felt since that last day he had been in The Brew Stop.
When was the last time he’d actually left the building?
Otis realized, with a shock, that he couldn’t even remember. What he could remember were images, sounds, from that last conversation at The Brew Stop.
—tears, from him or her or was it both?
“I just can’t, you have to understand. I’m no good to you. You don’t need me.” She trying to hold on to him; it was definitely both of them crying.
He couldn’t go back there. The panic began to build and Otis did what he did best, locked it away, turned his focus completely elsewhere.
“Why the Brew Stop?” he asked Mrs. Jenkins.
“Because he’ll be there. At least I hope so. Merlot wouldn’t guarantee it, said even he couldn’t guarantee such things, but he seemed pretty sure anyway. “
“I’m sorry Ma’am. Who are we talking about?”
Mrs. Jenkins looked up surprised. “My son. Well I just assumed you knew. I mean you gave me the…” –suddenly she interrupted herself looking anxious–”you do have it right? It might be the only proof. Merlot said you’d have it in your pocket.”
“My pocket?” Otis muttered feeling at the pocket of his slacks and then reaching inside to pull out what he felt inside, with a sense of wonder, amazement…Merlot the magician, indeed.
But after all, he’d put it there himself; he’d just forgotten. But Merlot hadn’t forgotten. Otis suspected he never forgot anything. Opening his hand he showed Mrs. Jenkins the lipstick lid.
Otis watched to see if she looked about to faint again, but to his relief she smiled broadly, but otherwise seemed quite unaffected. She held out her hand and he put the lid in it. He saw that her hand was still, calm; her assurance of the morning returning to her as she clasped the lid warmly in her hands.
“It’s all true” she whispered.
They had almost reached The Brew Stop and to hold back the thoughts (“But I do need you. Who will walk me down the aisle?”) pushing at the edge of his focus he asked, “And your son? You haven’t seen him for awhile?” (five years, maybe?)
She looked at him, again surprised, “I’m sorry. I just keep assuming. It’s been almost two decades. I can remember the last time I saw him. His father was holding him, he had gotten hold of my lipstick and I remember worrying he might choke on it. “ She made a choking, half-laugh, half-cry sort of sound. “I was worried about the wrong thing.”
“What happened?” They had stopped in front of The Brew Stop, her back to the door. Otis tried to ignore the redheaded barista at the counter. Fortunately she didn’t yet see him.
“His father took him. It was supposed to be a visit. I was worried he would let him choke. I never dreamed he’d run off. I never thought I’d see him again and then Merlot contacted me…and then you gave me this.” She held up the lipstick lid.
The barista turned away from the door and Otis ushered Mrs. Jenkins inside quickly hoping to escape her notice. He ushered her to a seat in the corner out of site of the counter and talked to her as they sat to cover up the strangeness of his movements.
“I’m sorry to surprise you like that in the elevator. I had no idea what it would mean to you.”
“Oh, no, I understand. Merlot explained. He had to be sure. He had to know that I was his mother. Cheaper than a DNA test, he said. But I think he wanted to know if I still “felt” like his mother.. you know? “ She smiled, and then looking over Otis shoulder she suddenly got that panic look again. A vaguely familiar voice behind Otis spoke timidly,
Otis turned at the same time Mrs. Jenkins rose in a flurry.
“Ben!” she exclaimed tearfully holding up the lipstick lid, like a talisman The once angry, once sad, now overwhelmed young man from the elevator (was that really only this Morning?) took the lid wonderingly, holding it like a priceless treasure.
“Mother.” he repeated as she embraced him. Otis noticed that he returned the embrace warmly. The scene before him was full enough to drive all other thoughts from Otis and he smiled warmly to be witnessing this strange reunion.
Was this what he needed? Was this what Merlot wanted him to see?
“There’s a reason I wanted to meet you here, mom. There’s someone I want you to meet. I’m seeing someone. “
Ben turned, smiling, and speaking to someone coming around the corner to their little table, “Katelyn, I found her. I found my mom.”
Otis, in his panic, looked for somewhere to hide, to run, but too late. Katelyn, the red headed barista came around the corner, with a smiling kiss for Ben as he cradled her in his left arm, his right still around his mother.
The kiss never quite unfolded though as her eye caught Otis’, turning abruptly to face him, emotion impossible to read, “Dad?!”