“Kellan, if you don’t … your ass here in one hour, you … dead man …not gonna repeat myself!…you hear me?” A horsy,menacing and yet desperate voice yelled over the stereo of the car, which was,unfortunately, connected to Kellan’s phone when the call came in. It was so loud that even the windows reverberated.
Before Kellan O’Connor could say anything but “Sir” back to his furious boss, the conversation ended abruptly, leaving him wonder whether the old man hung up or it was just the poor reception.Either way, he had no interest whatsoever in dialing back and finding out.Kellan swallowed dryly and squinted, taking a hard look at the clock: 9:45 AM.Traffic was light going up to Denver at this hour and Kellan was a mere 40-min drive away, at the most. He should be able make it - that’s what he was thinking.
Kellan was supposed to be back in Denverthe night before, bringing with him the final version of a signed business contract from the Colorado Springs office. But he decided to stay the night there since something unexpected turned up.
After Kellan picked up the company files,flurries of snow began to take hold of the city. During his stop by a Starbucks to get a large Americano for the road, the clouds quickly thickened and darkened, with only a faint purple glow traversing the west side of sky above the Rockies far away. The flurries then quickly turned into a major snowfall,like a white plague creeping into all veins of the city. Growing up as a local here, Kellan never took the snow too serious, although it got real bad sometimes.
To avoid traffic, Kellan had taken a back road off the main street. And there he found himself driving past a group of kids with a couple of adults, who appeared to be stranded in front of a church or some sort of community building, Kellan could not be sure. With no mistake,Kellan saw them waving at him in the headlight. He stepped on the brake of his Subaru Impreza and slowly pulled over to the road side.
He lowered the window on the passenger side while a woman bent over to talk to him, a gust of chilly wind blended with snowflakes rushed in to squeeze the cozy warmth out from the car.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” Kellan asked politely, eyeing the blonde, young lady laced with snow. She was very pretty,with clear, blue eyes and natural red lips. He felt embarrassed by calling the lady “ma’am” since she was so young. Well, Kellan blamed the poor lighting in the neighborhood.
“Thank you for stopping. Please, our driver’s supposed to be here twenty minutes ago but we‘re informed that the bus encountered some mechanical problem. I don’t know if it’s weather related. But anyway, long story short, he isn’t coming any time soon. We’re okay but the kids’re not dressed for the cold. So…”
“Where can I take you guys to?” Kellan interrupted. He had wanted to tell her to use an Uber drive or something. But who would know? Maybe she had never used one. Besides, this was Colorado Springs and Uber rides could be scarce, particularly in this kind of weather.He really did not want to complicate things and the best way was to offer his own help, he figured.
“Would you really? Oh my Gosh. Thank you so much!” The young lady almost shouted. “Well, there’re eight of us, so you might need to come back again, if you don’t mind. I’m sorry. I will totally understand if you can’t do this. I mean this is a lot to ask of you.”
“That’s alright. But you guys need to figure out who are going first. I am ready whenever.” Kellan shrugged, sounding relaxed. Being an orphan himself, Kellan always tried his best to provide a helping hand to whoever in need. This made him feel satisfied, fulfilled and above all, having a purpose in life. Kellan knew that he would not have survived to this day weren’t it for those good-hearted strangers who decided to donate to help children like him. Although the love he felt in his childhood was perhaps minimal, compared to a lot of the spoiled, lucky bastards, he nonetheless was grateful all the time and was ready to give back.
The pace of the night chill caught up while the evening sky lost the last sliver of light. An elderly woman ushered three younger kids to be seated at the back first before she descended painfully onto the passenger seat with one hand bracing the faux leather cushion and another pulling so hard on the handle by the passenger side. Kellan smiled and nodded at her, wondering whether she had knee problems or weight issues.
“Hi there. I’m Gina. Gina Bombelli. Ivolunteer at God’s Angels. Thanks for letting us in our car. You are such a fine young man.” The woman extended her hand to shake Kellan’s as her smile moved all her meaty cheeks to the upper side of her face, leaving very little room for her brown, beady eyes.
“My pleasure and my name is Kellan. Nice to meet you, ma’am.” Kellan was pretty confident that he used the word most appropriately this time. “God’s Angels you say?”
“Oh, yes, we give care to our little angels back there, don’t we?” Gina turned sideways and reached her arm out to ruffle the hair of a small boy. The heat inside the car had melted the snow, and his head felt wet to her hand. The kids at the back seat giggled and seemed quite content.
“What do we say when people are being nice to us?” Asked Gina still facing towards the back seats.
“Thank—you—” All three kids blasted out their maximal volume.
“You are welcome—“ Kellan stretched his words just to match the kids’. “Alright, everyone, buckle up. We are going …”Kellan suddenly realized that he never asked the woman their destination.
“Oops, my bad. That is 9945 North 30th Street. Thanks.” Gina chuckled.
“Alright.” While Kellan was driving, he found that Gina smelled overwhelmingly strong of something vaguely familiar,like what you would find in a Yankee Candle store in a fancy mall. Kellan sometimes ditched classes just to hang out in the mall during high school,admiring things he thought that he could never afford. Ah, it was vanilla beans and cinnamon, Kellan might not purchase those himself but he did have a memory of an elephant. Maybe this was what his mother would have smelled like? He would give up everything just to know that.
Kellan was quiet the whole way driving Gina and the kids to the foster care. Gina on the other hand, had been talking to one of the girls about Christmas gifts and stationery supplies. Occasionally she asked the boy how he was doing but largely left Kellan alone. Maybe she knew better not to disturb the driver on a snowy night.
When they arrived, Kellan helped the kids release themselves from the seat belts while Gina quickly led the kids into the building after thanking Kellan’s help again. After waving them goodbye, Kellan headed back immediately to help the rest of the gang.
“C’mon, hop in guys.” Kellan got off and opened doors for the young woman and three older kids, who could be nine or ten years old. “You guys doing okay? Tried my best to hurry back, but the road was little jammed. Fr–freezing weather you know.” He was going to curse but quickly realized children presence. So he substituted the word, sounding a little funny.
“We are actually fine. They let us back in there for a while before the last person had to leave. So yeah, we’ve only been out for five minutes or so.” The young woman patted herself clear of snow before entering the car, her movement so graceful, like that of a ballet dancer’s. Kellan didn’t want to be seen staring but he managed to get a good peek at her – probably in her mid-twenties, girl-next-door type, and almost innocent looking.
“I’m Kellan! How are you?” This time he took the initiative to introduce himself, his warm, firm hand touching a cold,soft one.
“Thank you Kellan. I‘m Kate. And the little buddies are Kevin, Juan and Lizzy.” Kate’s dimpled face looked beautiful with a little blush, perhaps from the cold air. Unlike Gina who smelled like scented candles, Kate was fruity sweet and definitely minty, the wintergreen kind of minty, which was much more pleasant to be around.
“So you’re also volunteering? Like Gina?”Kellan broke the ice first while he drove, glancing over at Kate, who was checking her cell phone. None of them made a noise, not even the kids who were either looking out of the window or semi-dozed off. Kellan was not in general a talkative person but being with Kate and the kids made him feel a little awkward and yet excited. Or scared, which could be difficult to distinguish sometimes.Lacking basic social skills might just be one of the downsides growing up in a foster care house.
Kate instantly looked up at Kellan and smiled: “No, not really. I work full time there. But we do need kind people like Gina. You are welcome to it. I mean it’s like positive energy and good karma, like what you are doing.”
“Well, let’s hope it is good karma.” Kellan didn’t latch onto the thought too much and focused on driving instead.
Momentarily, the passengers safely arrived at their destination, a man in an oversized winter parka already waiting outside. He opened the passenger door for Kate, took the kids out and thanked Kellan for what he did. He even handed Kellan one of those stickers for supporting their deeds: “it normally costs $50 bucks, man. What you did,priceless. I am impressed.”
To Kellan’s surprise, the guy gave him a manly hug before going inside. Kate walked over, thanked him again and extended her invitation to visit them at some point. Kellan didn’t say whether he would or not, but brushed off the thanks with a causal nod. The thought of going back into a foster care facility was unnerving; it wasn’t terrible where he grew up at – lots of company and decent food and clothing – and yet it wasn’t particularly memorable either – kids could be really mean and even cruel to each other when adults were not always there to supervise. The day was easier to come by, but the night was trouble. Kellan had had numerous dreams about his parents: they took him to the mall and bought him lots and lots of presents.The sweet episode turned into a nightmare whenever Kellan tried to look at their faces: featureless and hollow, like shadows but with color. The harder he looked, the fuzzier the contours of the faces, until he woke up panting with tears trickling down his face, and into his mouth, immensely salty and bitter.
Kellan’s mind drifted back; he turned around, feeling a little tired, and mechanically popped open the car door. He got inside and promptly started the engine to warm himself. “Well, that was that.” He murmured, gazing at himself in the rear-view mirror, and tossed the sticker into the glove box. Like any other help he’d ever given, a sense off ulfillment was his reward.
Then a loud thud and “clank” almost threw him out of his seat, if it weren’t for the safety belt. “Oh man, Really?!”Kellan grudged. The car was stopped short with the engine still roaring. He flew out to inspect and found that the front wheels got all messed up from the road-side fence. The snow had gotten so thick that he didn’t even notice how fast he was driving.
“Good Karma, huh?” Kellan bitterly thought to himself. If only he had ignored those strangers, the accident would never had happened. He definitely should be safely in Denver and handing the documents to the secretary, who couldn’t have stressed enough “how important it was to deliver these documents in time” in the evening. Now with the car in really bad shape, he imagined how long his first professional job could last.Estimating the damage alone, it was at least 600 hard-earned dollars to be paid, in addition to the money needed for the toll company and cash for a night’s stay in Colorado Springs. He couldn’t bear the thought of being late again for his rent. But that was the least of his worry at this moment.
The weather just became gloomier than ever.The snow fall had turned into a monster storm, slapping Kellan’s face hard like it was meant to be an insult. There was no way he was leaving Colorado Springs tonight.
Kellan called the secretary’s personal number and informed her about the car accident. “I will get a rental first thing in the morning. I promise, you WILL have them before 11 in the morning.” Eleven o’clock in the morning was when the business meeting was scheduled, according to the secretary.
The snow had ceased the next morning, the sky presented itself as a deep blue sapphire, not a cloud to be seen. The plains by the road and the Rockies on the far west had all coalesced into an infinite patch of white. Then there was Kellan driving a rented Subaru on I-25 North and listening to NPR News. Just when he believed things were looking up, his boss called. That was indeed a bummer but no harm, because he was certain that nothing shitty would happen again, right?
In a blink of an eye, all the tail lights in front of Kellan were shooting out disturbing red, sending chills to his spine. And one minute later, the traffic completely came to a halt. Kellan hurried to check the road condition on his smart phone, it was no good since the phone was actively searching for cellular signals. No wonder the news had stopped playing after the call ended. “Ugh, this is GREAT.” Kellan muttered sarcastically.
Another good five minutes passed, still no sign of clearing and no reception. Frustration arose like a surge of ocean waves pounding inside his chest. Kellan stuck his head out of the window and saw people were all doing the same thing – no one seemed to have a clue of what’s going on. He turned the good old radio on. Most stations were playing commercials or music, but with really loud static noise as if he were in the middle of nowhere. Kellan flipped through a dozen stations and one of them was playing local news, although the broadcasting was cutting in and out, he was able to figure out what happened. Apparently “one of the most severe solar storms has just hit the mid Colorado area, leaving mobile phones and GPS devices temporarily out of work”, and “expect the situation to get better in a few hours”. The advisory was that “use a landline for emergency calls”.
After hearing the news, Kellan’s temple throbbed, like someone had just punched him in the head. This was probably his worse 12 hours in his 27 years. His best guess was that since the cellular or GPS signals were entirely out, it only took a few idiots to slow down on the interstate to cause jam as was now. “Where are the cops when they are needed the most?”
Time ticked by and Kellan impatiently eyed the clock again, it was already 10:05 AM. “Do I really have to lose my job like this? This is not fair!” Kellan complained inside his head. But maybe life was never meant to be fair, at least not in a way he could grasp. But what COULD he do though? Flying out of here? Then he discovered that he was actually really close to exit 182, which led to the town of Castle Rock. Kellan drove past Castle Rock so often and occasionally stopped by to get gas, but he never visited the town. “There’s got to be a way up to Denver from there. It’s almost part of Denver anyway.” Kellan swiftly made up his mind.
He put the double blinkers on and swirled his rental car all the way to the emergency lane, hoping that it was not blocked until he could get on to the off ramp. The lane was covered with thick snow but his car managed to generate enough traction to drive on. In less than one minute, he got off the ramp and drove on the local street. Only then did he realize how much humans had relied on technology for something so routine and so simple – driving, for instance. While Kellan could not access navigation on his phone, he knew well to find a road going north. He followed his instinct and finally got on the “Crowfoot Valley Rd”, which was not exactly straight north but close enough, judging from the position of the sun.
It was a typical two-lane country road and definitely much less populated with cars, since the surface was still largely covered by snow with tread marks. The road was really flat and so was the surrounding, allowing Kellan to see a good ten miles ahead. Oddly enough, not a single vehicle was on either direction, which made Kellan doubt whether he had made the right decision by following down the path. As he was debating turning around and getting back onto the main street, his car suddenly gave few violent shakes, when he could hear, unambiguously, a low “boom” sound. Kellan’s instinct reaction was that the car hit a pile of a snow or something, but that wasn’t right – not this rocking motion that resembled what one felt inside an aircraft hitting bad weather systems, really rough turbulence. The car stereo went haywire since Kellan could almost hear ten channels at the same time for a few seconds before it went radio silence (no pun intended).
As Kellan had prepared the worst – another major road fail – the car put itself back together and drove rather smoothly again. He let out a long sigh of release and decided to continue for just a little bit more. As he was wondering how his usually uneventful or even boring life could suddenly hit a bucket full of weirdness, he steadied his eyes and saw unmistakably a car parked by the same side of the road he was on, in a half a mile or so.
“Oh, good, it’s about fucking time I could talk to someone. I am about to lose it.” Kellan muttered to himself and hit the gas pedal slightly harder. As he drove closer to the stopped vehicle, he saw a man figure waving at him with both of his arms. Not again. He subconsciously checked his phone, still zero bar and almost out of juice. He plugged the phone in the charger and slowly pulled over near the man, who now he could clearly see was in some state of mental distress. He ran over to the driver side and knocked on the window.
“Thank goodness, sir, my wife, she was about to go into labor…the damn car gave up on us. We need to get her taken care of immediately!” He blurted everything out while Kellan was still lowering the window. Kellan looked up and saw a man with fair skin in his late twenties, who looked oddly familiar to him. Kellan didn’t believe it was possible to have met him before. Maybe it was because the man also had bright auburn hair, just like himself. But there was something weird about the man, about the way he was dressed. He was wearing a washed out denim jacket; inside, a loose yellow sweater was tucked into his jeans. With the pair of white sneakers, this man was almost like a character straight out of a 1980s TV show. His sense of fashion was way over-the-top, even for rural Colorado or wherever he might be from. And this TV character was now asking for help, a help that would almost certainly cost Kellan his job and possibly the roof over his head.
“What the hell, fuck Goldberg and fuck the job.” Kellan cussed inside. A human life at stake, actually, two lives. Kellan couldn’t have been more sure what’s more important. “Let’s get her in the car!” Kellan said, unhesitant.
The man looked elated and trudged back to a brown colored Chevy sedan, which looked like a 1960s model, or 70s, he wasn’t sure. Kellan followed him, not knowing whether he was rich or poor with a car like that.
A young woman sat in the passenger seat, her eyes half closed and face twisted in apparent agonizing pain. If there was anything in common about this couple, her crazy permed blond hair, currently covering part of her face and neck, also gave her a 1980s look. “Where the hell are they from though? The husband sounds local with a tiny bit of mid-western accent, definitely not far from Colorado. And their crazy attires and hairs? Are they heading to a retro party or something? But the woman is so pregnant. It just doesn’t make any sense.” Kellan’s thoughts were all shuffled but he couldn’t care much at the moment. Saving the lady’s life and the baby was the top priority.
“Laura, hang on in there, baby. We are gonna get you help real quick, okay?” The man sounded like he was about to cry. The woman feebly nodded her head and stared at Kellan briefly, but didn’t say anything. She closed her eyes again, hands clutching her enormous belly. The man bent down, took her shoes off and turned back to carry his wife. With the help of Kellan, the two men gingerly moved the woman to the back seat of the rental car. She laid in there moaning with her hands still tightly on her belly. Kellan hopped in while the man jumped into the passenger seat, slamming the door with excess force. Kellan could tell that he was under tremendous pressure.
“Do you know where we are going?” Kellan asked, not sure whether he should turn the wheels around.
“Keep driving and there was a family birth clinic in about four or five miles. That’s the closest one in here. We don’t have an appointment…I am sure it’ll all work out!” The man instructed Kellan while gripping his wife’s hand.
“Alright. Will do.” Kellan gave the man a firm nod and stepped on gas hard, the engine giving a roaring sound. Kellan wanted to ask the man whether they were local, whom he figured they were, but the man asked him first.
“Such a fancy car you are driving. I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life! May I ask what the make is?” The man’s eyes were fixed on the dashboard panel and exclaimed.
“What?!” Kellan was doubtful if he heard the man correctly. Out of politeness, he replied “I guess this is just the new model of the Subaru Legacy, pretty standard, I’ll say. I guess it’s kind of nice. Much better than my Impreza. I got it this morning from a rental place, where the guy did mention that he gave me a free upgrade or something. My car was busted last night and it’s in a garage. ”
“This baby looks like a space shuttle. Also make you scared that the Japanese are taking over the world. I am serious! Look at these futuristic panels and stuff!” The man continued with his obsession with admiring the car, which further weirded Kellan out. He was starting to question his own sanity – whether what he had so far from the past day was nothing but a ludicrous dream.
“That’s a bit of an exaggeration but, yeah, I get what you mean.” Kellan decided that he should just go along with the crazy guy and see what he was really up to. At some point, Kellan even glanced back at the women from the mirror, fearing that she might just mug him from behind. They could be like Bonnie and Clyde in disguise, who would know that?
“We are almost there baby, in just a couple of minutes. How are you feeling?” The man twisted his arms and used both of his hands to comfort his wife. He then motioned Kellan to slow down by pointing to a multi-storied house on the left side of the road. “That’s it! Stop right there please!” He urged.
“It hurts, Jack, it hurts so bad. ” This was the first time Kellan had heard the woman spoke since they had been together. “I know baby, I know. It will all be okay in just a minute.” Said Jack. The woman went back in painful moaning.
Kellan gave him a thumb up, checked the traffic and skillfully made a U-turn to pull the car over right in front of the main entrance. They immediately carried the woman inside to seek help. The clinic didn’t look like a modernized medical facility. The front desk, the furniture, everything looked old or old-fashion, Kellan couldn’t quite tell.
While they were half way into the clinic corridor, about ten feet away from the female receptionist. The woman started to scream in pain. “Oh, Jack, I think the baby is coming out. Oh, I can feel it. It’s definitely out. I am taking the pants off now.” While Kellan was lifting one of her arms, he noticed that the woman suddenly grew heavier and more flimsy. She slipped down and her lower limbs and torso were on the floor, fumbling to take her own watery pants off. Kellan had no idea what sort of physiological process was going there down there, but Laura was screaming her lungs out. Jack on the other hand, looked as helpless as Kellan did.
The reception lady saw what happened and flew over to them, yelling in the hall way at the same time: “Pam, there is an emergency! Get Patrick, fast!”
“Gentlemen, I am going to need you to lay her down. You are dragging her. Don’t worry, the doc is on his way!” Ordered the lady in a floral blouse. “Jesus Christ, the baby is half out. I can see the head now. Oh my God, just lay her on her back on the floor.” She gasped and covered her mouth.
Kellan and Jack carefully lay the wife on the carpeted floor and Jack took off his jacket, folding it into a pillow to put underneath his wife’s head.
“Damn it, there is no time! Where is Patrick?” The lady in the floral blouse said impatiently. “Ma’am, keep breathing and I need you to push hard, you understand me?” She picked up Laura’s hand and said to her calmly, making a determined eye contact. Sweat was seeping through Laura’s forehead despite the cool air by the entrance.
After a minute or so, which seemed like an eternity, a male doctor-looking guy rushed to the crowd and took over from the receptionist. He kept instructing Laura for a few minutes, mostly urging her to push harder and harder while breathing normally. After a piecing shriek from Laura, a baby’s cry became the dominant sound in the clinic.
“It’s a boy!” The male doctor held the baby in his hands, looking excited, and asked “who is the father?”
“Praise the Lord!” Jack took the baby over and held in his rough, big hands with great caution, as if he were handling a delicate piece of china. Laura, still panting, used all her strength to raise a hand to caress the baby. Then Jack turned his head and spoke to Kellan: “You want to hold him? You saved him. He is indebted to you forever.”
Kellan had wanted to pass the offer – for one thing, the baby looked slimy and he might drop him, and for another, he was really concerned about the time. And yet his action betrayed his mind again. “Why not?” Kellan grinned and gingerly took over the infant. Still crying, he was so tiny, so fragile and yet so full of life, warm and slippery, Kellan felt.
As he was observing the new born scrupulously, something caught Kellan’s attention. In fact, it was so eerily shocking that Kellan felt that he could lose grip of the baby at any moment. He discovered a half-mooned birth mark on the left hip of the boy, a mark that was identical to what Kellan had and on the same, exact spot in Kellan’s own body. Time seemed to have frozen while Kellan’s brain was scrambling to find a possible explanation. He thought about the karma thing the girl talked about the night before, but Kellan had never believed in anything supernatural in his whole life, nor had he seen anything remotely being that way. “What the heck?! This is fucking weird. What’s the odd? Could it be…?”
As a million ideas rushed to Kellan’s mind, Jack gently patted dazed Kellan on the back and asked “are you okay, man?” Kellan temporarily lifted his attention from the birthmark and handed the precious little life back to his father. “Yeah, I am fine. I guess I am just tired.” Muttered Kellan.
“I can’t thank you enough for what you did today. How could I not have asked your name yet?” Said Jack apologetically, taking the baby back to his hands.
“Kellan”. Kellan answered blankly, still in shock.
“Hooray, sir, you just named our baby boy, Kellan. What do you say, Laura?” Jack gave the baby a gentle kiss on the forehead. Laura nodded and smiled, like an angel. Kellan took a good look at the woman, now bracing herself on her elbows. She had such beautiful hazel eyes, just like those of Kellan’s. While Laura was struggling to sit up to get a better look at the baby Kellan, the adult Kellan could almost swear that he smelled something that was familiar in his dreams. The smell of his mother, when she was holding him. And then Kellan moved his eyes onto the father, his face so handsome and his auburn hair so vivid. Regardless of all the weirdness and confusion, Kellan’s heart was filled with joy. This was an amazing ending, against all odds.
As everyone was enjoying the little unusual floor party, the grandfather clock struck and broke the silence. “Oh shoot, I almost forgot about my job!” Exclaimed Kellan. He subconsciously reached for his smart phone in the pocket of his jeans, only to realize that he had left it in the rental car charging. “I really have to go. Um, I have a question. Do you guys know whether this road leads to Denver if I just keep driving north?”
“Sure, take a left turn at the first intersection and follow the sign to the interstate or you can make a right turn to get on to the state highway. Choice’s yours. You won’t miss it.” Said the doctor amicably. The couple thanked Kellan for the last time before he got up and left.
It was 10:47 AM when Kellan was back in his car – the grandfather clock must have acted out, Kellan thought. He checked the phone again, the time right, but the signal bar was still missing. He drove on north. Despite the fact that he just saved a life, possibly two, Kellan’s stomach sank and felt nauseous. The clear blue sky was gone and turned grimly overcast. While Kellan was wondering how fast the weather could turn nasty, he experienced the rocking motions again and another mysterious low-pitched “boom” sound. The car was doing fine, so he ignored it. What was really strange was that the sky all of a sudden turned clear again, bright sunlight shining on the passenger seat from the backside.
Kellan soon reached the cross road the doctor was telling him about. He saw some traffic there, mostly coming from the west. As a result, he still did not trust the interstate. So Kellan joined other cars to go east and soon got onto State Highway 83. The traffic was indeed much heavier on 83 but at least the cars were still moving. He had no choice but inched steadily along. Frustrated, he bit his lips so hard and they began to bleed.
His phone gave off a burst of buzzes. Kellan saw a few text messages – the cell signal was back on, to his delight. He had thought about calling the secretary to explain what happened immediately. However, after a second thought, it probably wasn’t the best idea. Whatever he said would sound like excuses, which might make things worse. Besides, he’d already given up hope. So, whatever, he thought.
When he arrived at the company parking lot in the Tech Center area, it was already past noon. He saw a few of his colleagues were out to grab lunch. With the business contract folder in his hand, Kellan dragged his legs and took his time to slowly make it to the office building. He took a deep breath when he got off the elevator and nervously walked to the secretary’s desk.
Before he could speak to her, Kellan’s boss Matt Goldberg, a fat middle-aged man with receding hairline, walked out of the conference room and signaled Kellan to come over to him. The secretary lady made a funny face at Kellan and shrugged.
“I am so sorry sir, if I could just tell you what happened first.” Kellan handed the folder over to Goldberg and awaited his punishment, getting fired almost certainly.
“Well, things happen. C'est la vie. No sweat. Take the rest of the day off and I will take you to dinner at 6. We can talk about it then. You pick a place you like, how about?” Kellan could not believe, beyond his wildest dreams that Goldberg appeared to be quite happy with him being so late and possibly screwing the company over. Having worked for the man for almost three years, Kellan knew his boss was pleased when he put the “how about” at the end of a sentence.
“Is it the last supper? Are you going to fire me?” Kellan had to find out.
“Last supper? No, I expect you to take my place in a few years.” Goldberg chuckled. “You see, your inexcusable late arrival and being out of commission for so long had saved us from a major loss. The contract was fishy and we were only informed by the HQ a few moments ago to avoid the deal at all cost. You have no idea how costly it is just to pay the legal fees. They can bankrupt you. And yes, there will be a few fires, but it won’t be you.” He beamed at Kellan.
“And by the way, never say last supper to a Jew. It’s just rude. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some big fish to please, off you go.” Goldberg said, leaning against the door frame.
But sir, I don’t…” Kellan pressed.
“Oh, O’Connor. Laisse tomber! I’ll see you around six.” Goldberg went back to the conference room, leaving Kellan utterly stunned at the door. “Karma! This has to be karma!” That was the only explanation Kellan could conjure in his head, although he was not entirely clear what his boss was just saying.
Two weeks later, Kellan got a pay raise. It was not a big one but he was happy enough to share the news with Kate, whom he visited twice already. They had dinner together and he kissed her goodbye. That night, he dreamed about his parents again. It was still in the mall and he was very small. Kellan walked in the middle, both of his hands being tightly held by his parents. He looked up and saw their faces, only this time the faces so clear and so real. The man was so handsome with flaming auburn hair and the woman so beautiful with hazel eyes, and her pleasant smell. Kellan laughed so hard and he woke, reminiscing the lingering dream.
“Roland’s Family Birth Clinic, how can I help you?” A sweet female voice answered the phone.
Kellan: “Hi, can I speak to Patrick please?”
Female: “Who is this speaking? Do you have an appointment?”
Kellan: “No, but it’s urgent.”
Female: “Stay on the line sir.”
Click. A few moments later.
Roland: “Patrick Roland. How may I help you?” His voice sounded slow and ancient.
Kellan: “Dr. Roland. Do you remember a woman giving birth on the floor in your clinic a while back?”
Roland: “How could I forget that? And who is this?”
Kellan: “I am the guy who helped to bring the woman in, Kellan. You remember me? I have a question.”
Roland: “Ah, yes, you are the kind guy after whom the baby was named. I remember you. What do you possibly want to know?”
Kellan: “Can you tell me the last name of the couple?” He took a deep breath.
Roland: “Hmm, let me think. It’s been so long. Gosh. But I remember. O’Connor, definitely, since I misspelled it Connor on the ledger.”
Kellan: “And when was that?”
Roland: “Hmm, let’s see.” A long moment passed. “Twenty-seven or twenty-eight years ago? Something like that.”
A month later, Kate was sitting in the passenger seat and she opened the glove box. “Hey, you never put the decal up!”
“Sorry, I kinda just left it there. I didn’t mean to.” Kellan winked. “What does it say though?”
“You listen careful, O’Connor. ‘Your wishes are His top priority’.” Kate read in the most sweet voice in the world.