Thursday, July 7, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Ten

This excerpt is from the tenth chapter of Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

The Parting

I rushed to work and hurriedly parked my car. I knocked at my boss’ office door and said, “Good morning, sir.” Did you wish to see me?” My face reddened. Why did I ask that? I knew he wanted to see me, and he knew that I knew that he wanted to see me. The last thing he told me the day before was that he wanted to see me. “I’m sorry, sir. I knew you wanted to see me. I’m just a little flustered this morning.”

“Sit down,” he said while motioning toward a chair. “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”

As I nervously found my seat, I wondered, What could this be? Surely, I’m not in trouble. I’m the most trustworthy employee he’s got. All of my reports and assignments have been complete and on time. What else could it be? The reddening in my face began to be replaced by an ashen white, caused by the intense fear that gripped me. I’m being fired, I thought. What will I do? Where will I go? This is the only job I’ve ever had.

Interrupting my racing thoughts he said, “Bill, you may have heard that we’re starting a new office on the East Coast.”

With a stammering voice I answered, “Yes, sir, it’s been rumored about for some time now.”

“Well, Bill, you are my most trusted employee. I want you to go to the new site, get it set up, and running.”

I wasn’t in trouble. What a relief. Color began to come back into my face. My shaking hands began to stop quivering. I relaxed a little and repositioned myself in my seat.

“I don’t know how long it will take, Bill, but I would guess a couple of months—four at the most. What do you think?”

Four months? I thought. Good grief. I don’t like living out of a suitcase.

Lying, I said, “Sir, I am honored that you would consider me. I will do my best. The good of the company comes first.”

“Great, Bill. I knew you would be a team player. As a matter of fact, I’ve already arranged for your flight. You’re leaving at nine o’clock in the morning.”

What a price to be a team player, I thought. “Sir, that’s not much notice.”

“I know, Bill. I really am sorry, but this thing came together quicker than I anticipated. But, I know you will be able to pull it off.”

“Okay. I’ll be on the plane.”

“Thanks, Bill. I’m depending on you to make us shine. Good luck.”

I didn’t share his enthusiasm as I left the office, but I didn’t let him know about it. I went home and began packing my bags. Just before going to bed, I noticed the notes I had been making after each meeting with the stranger. At the last moment, I threw the notes in my suitcase. Four months is a long time. I figured that I might as well go over those notes and see if they can make any more sense to me.

On Friday morning, I got up a little earlier than usual. I figured I might as well have one last cup of coffee at my favorite coffee shop. I knew that by coming early, I would miss the stranger, but we weren’t exactly buddies anyway. He would just have to get over it. Besides that, we hadn’t even exchanged names.

After arriving at the coffee shop I ordered my coffee and sat down by the door. I wanted to take in all of the familiar sites of home before leaving. I had no more than taken my first sip of coffee than who walked in the door, but the stranger.

“Hello, friend. You’re here early today.”

I was surprised to see him at the coffee shop this early in the morning. “Yes I am,” I said.

Since he was there, I decided that I might as well explain what was going on and why I wouldn’t be back at the coffee shop for a while. “Sir, I’m afraid our conversations must come to an end.”

“Friend, have I offended you? If I have, I would like to make things right.”

“Oh no, you haven’t offended me. I honestly can’t say that I have been enthused about your proofs that God exists, but you may be delighted to know that I have taken notes on every one of them. Actually, sir, my boss surprised me yesterday with the news that I must leave town on business for an extended period of time.”

“Oh, was that the important meeting you had to get to?”

“Yes, sir, it was. I really don’t know when I will be back. Sir, I can’t say that you’ve convinced me to believe that God exists, but I plan to examine my notes a little closer while I am gone. Whenever I do make it back home, perhaps we could continue our conversations. Do you live nearby?”

“No, friend, I don’t actually live here. I’m just passing through.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I replied. “It looks like we may never meet again.”

“Don’t worry about it, my friend. I’ve enjoyed the conversations we’ve had together. I just hope you have enjoyed my company as much as I’ve enjoyed yours.”

I didn’t understand how he could consider me to be a good conversationalist. I mainly just listened to him and answered his questions. You meet all kinds of people during your life. This guy was one of those that causes you to scratch your head.

I couldn’t be as enthusiastic as he was, but I tried to be cordial. I wished him well and got up to leave the coffee shop.

He embarrassed me when he also got up and gave me a massive bear hug. “Take care,” he said. “You’ve been a joy to talk to.” I nervously glanced about the room to see what the other patrons thought about me getting a lingering hug from the stranger. I was relieved to see that they didn’t give us any glaring looks of surprise.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

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