-Jamie phoned back to convey the package tracking information to Luxemburg for Ernesto. It was an insured and signed for shipment which even with priority would take a few days. Once the business side of the discussion was completed, they transitioned to the more personal side.
Ernesto asked, “Once I have reviewed the contents of the package, are you up for some part-time work, Jamie? Though I understand if you need to be close to the family. Perhaps some of the effort can be a remote support function.”
Ernesto kept probing the conversation with Jamie to get at the real story of what had happened before Jamie went on the road, so he asked, “How about some pictures of the three of you so I can see those happy faces, huh? I need to live the family life vicariously through yours.”
Jamie hesitatingly replied, “I don’t have any photos with me, so…so some other time perhaps.”
Ernesto playfully insisted, “Oh come on, you’re a proud papa with an exquisite redheaded lady! You must have some photos on that cell phone of yours. Don’t tell me I need to perform a virtual training session on how to access your images folder. Just a few crumbs for me here!”
Jamie hesitated then seemed to struggle to find the words as he haltingly offered, “Umm…you see, it was a difficult delivery and…well, she smiled at me before, she …uh…” Jamie’s voice got softer and softer as he wiped the tears away from his cheek as his eyes kept overflowing.
Ernesto now wished he hadn’t been so insistent on the story, but Jamie continued, “Little Timmy had some problems…Frieda didn’t get to see…it wasn’t his fault it was, uh… mine. It’s always my fault. Her folks never said that, but I, uh…but whenever I looked them in the face I could see them…I could feel the blame...”
Jamie was now in free form, blamestorming himself, his voice just barely above a whisper when he finished, “Her parents said they would help raise little Timmy and that I was welcome to stay, but…I knew that I shouldn’t…I knew I couldn’t. Besides, who would want a killer under the roof with them and Frieda’s baby? I could see the look in their eyes and almost hear them thinking you killed our daughter, we won’t let you do that to her baby.”
Ernesto was shamefully quiet at the story he had provoked, and so he said nothing.
Jamie’s choke turned into a false laugh, and as he wiped the tears from his face he used all his now forced bravado to be as cavalier as possible, saying, “Now I am out dreaming and scheming again to get back on top, bro! I have nothing holding me back, so what kind of gig for me did you have in mind? Remember now, I ain’t cheap, but I can be your bought whore!”
It took a lot of forced concentration for Ernesto to finally suggest, “We may have need of some freelance work on a problem we are trying to solve. The Muslim female you ran into at the museum is the point of entry into this situation. I am obliged to point out it is going to be dangerous.”
Jamie smiled his old gambler smile and offered, “The more danger the better.”
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