The Pool

Written By: JD Adler - May• 03•13

Jerome Peabody, Fund Manager

Jerome Peabody drove his pooh brown SUV out of his 2 car garage, and down the short driveway, turning right onto Mason St. The garage couldn’t really fit 2 cars because of this oversized vehicle, but Jerome lived alone, so that wasn’t a problem. Though this fact made the oversized vehicle less sensical, still it was the thing to have at his age and income level. He absently brushed his right hand down the length of the narrow, plaid tie which served to break the monotony of his pale blue, button down shirt checked his thinning brown hair in the mirror, and pulled out of the driveway. The plaid tie, pale blue shirt, black pleather belt, black nylon slacks, and sturdy, black, dress/walking shoes were all newly purchased at JCPenny just the day before; a present to himself on the occasion of his 10th anniversary at work. At the office, they gave him a dinner coupon for $50, a cake in the break room, and a bonus of $350. His supervisor, a kid half his age who had been there half the time, patted him on the back and praised his consistency. Jerome was surprised and delighted.

Today was Wednesday. Jerome didn’t go into the office on Wednesdays. This was his day in the field with Citizens who were about to become active in The Pool. The Pool couldn’t just exist on its own, someone had to operate it. That was Jerome’s job. He was a Manager for the National Economic Stability and Justice Pool, and newly active accounts had to be investigated to prevent “mistakes”.

A light day today, only 2 Citizens to visit. Jerome decided to drive to the furthest account first and then head towards home as he worked. That would be most efficient. Tapping the turn signal left, he checked all directions twice, then rolled up the on ramp, slowing for the yield sign as he checked across his left shoulder, and then merged smoothly onto the freeway. There was no radio on, or cell phone hooked up, no tasty beverage, or any other form of distraction. Jerome drove the vehicle with his hands at 10 and 2, and thought about his next meeting. Safety demanded he not divide his attention further.

North for an hour to see Erin Nolan, 80 years old, mother of 4, widow of 5 years, dying of Leukemia, property totaling 40 acres valued at $3.4 million, cash/investments totaling $2.5 million. Expected death date: 3 days maximum, October, 17, 2042. Exactly 80 years, 3 months and 4 days after her birth.

Without even realizing it Jerome began to whistle. He did it a lot, though he had no idea, whistling while he thought about his clients. It would shock him to realize it, such an unnecessary and pointless act. “Why would anyone do that?” He would ask, if he were ever cornered into a conversation about whistling. But there he was, just driving down the highway, thinking about a dying woman’s property, and whistling a tune.

Erin Nolan, Citizen

It took exactly 1 hour 10 minutes to cover the 63 miles between his home and Mrs. Nolan’s, including a stop to buy a water and energy bar before the meeting, granola without flavoring. The driveway wound like a snake up the perfectly trimmed, vibrant green hillside the ivory mansion perched atop. Walls gleaming, 137 windows and solar paneled roofs sparkling, his fecal toned automobile rolled into its corona sphere. Squinting against the reflected light, he reached for his laptop from the seat back compartment of the passenger seat, an outdated, heavy piece of equipment that contained files on thousands of Citizens. He opened the door, stepped into the light, and approached the column framed entryway. A pair of ivory colored, ceramic, Doric Columns, connected to nothing, pointed at the sky. Jerome stared at the not-portico for a moment, confused. There were columns but no roof. The base was cement, painted ivory, and the doorframe was wood, carved with an Ionic pattern, also painted ivory. He could not help but wonder where they found the craftsman willing to do this project. Shaking his head, and whistling, he walked up to the door and pushed the little yellow button bearing a smiley face. He could here the song, “Hello” by the Beatles, echoing through the house.

Jerome cleared his throat, straightened his perfectly straight shirt, then turned to observe the view. From this vantage he could see the suburb where he lived and the city skyline beyond. In close, rolling green hills, groves of trees, and farmhouses, cut into squares by transportation routes extended outward towards the grim urban towers spewing columns of dust, smoke, and heat into the sky with multifaceted flecks of electric lights cutting the darkness like insect eyes. He had just started to whistle when the door opened again.

“Oh, sir, hello, sorry for the wait.” He turned around to find a woman standing there probably only a few years younger than him. She looked as if someone had stretched out a much younger girl, dressed her in a black pantsuit, and added wrinkles to the corners of her eyes. Blonde hair hung in a scraggled mess around her face, framing eyes puffy and red from weeping. Her thin lips chewed on a lock, which she quickly pulled away with a long, slender finger. She attempted a smile, “Please come in, I’m Kerrie. Are you the PoolBoy?”

Jerome bristled at the diminutive nickname, “I am the Fund Manager, Jerome Peabody, yes ma’am.” He nodded as he crossed the threshold. The main room was larger than his home, a giant open, circular, space, floored with hardwood, containing only a massive chandler dangling over a circular table in the center. Along both walls were pocket stairwells, and in the center back, the only exit, a set of white double doors.

“Fund Manager? You mean PoolBoy isn’t your proper title?”

Jerome turned to face her, “No, ma’am, people just say that because the the Fund is referred to as The Pool.”

“Isn’t that it’s proper name either?”

“No ma’am, it’s the National Economic Stability and Justice Pool.”

“Well that is a mouthful.”

“I suppose, ma’am.”

“They ought to call it the Government Crime Project!” Stumbling down the stairs with a drink of dark alcohol in his hand, at 10:15 am, a young man with curly black hair and dressed in a pink bathrobe, bellowed and slurred.

“Don’t listen to him.” Kerrie turned her back to intruder and waved her hand dismissively, “He’s my cousin Luke, he’s just angry because he has to earn his own money now.”

“Yes, we’ll, Justice does have 2 scales, as they say.” Jerome nodded in a thoughtful manner.

Her head tilted slightly, “I never heard that before. Who says that?”

He paused, surprised by the inquiry, “I don’t know, possibly only my father.”

“Oh, hmm, I like that.”

“Ma’am, not to be rude, but may I see Mrs. Erin Nolan?”

Luke slid/fell his way down the last few stairs, then paused holding onto the bannister, as if unsure whether he was indeed standing or not. He looked around, then seemed to remember what was happening and turned to Jerome with a sneer, “Yes! Hurry up and get to your prey, vulture. Don’t waste any time talking to those of us who are about to be bereft of our love.”

This was too much for Kerrie, she pirouetted angrily, and delivered her most acidic, boardroom, retort, “Which love would that be, Luke, my Mother, or her fortune?” Luke shrank back, unsure how to deal with actual confrontation, so she dismissed him with a snide upturn of her lip and returned her attention to Jerome. “Mr. Peabody, if you’ll follow me, please.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She escorted him, briskly, butt cheeks almost squeaking, towards the white doors at the back of the hall. A large, bearded, black man dressed in a dark suit with a white shirt swung open the double doors upon their approach till they locked in place, then stood by the right, at attention. Kerrie stopped in front of him.

“Todd, this is Mr. Peabody from the National Econ- from The Pool. He will be here for a few hours. Treat him as you would any guest.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He responded in a high, squeaky voice like an animated mouse or a misaligned flywheel.

“Sir, this is my mother’s butler, Todd. He will get you anything you need, my Mother is in here.” Then she turned and headed through the doors into a sunroom which had been converted into a makeshift hospice bedroom.

The floor was cement, tiled with painted ceramic laid out in a mosaic of Van Gogh’s The Lilly’s, the ceiling and wall was a half arch of glass extending in a radius of 5 meters out from the wall, supported by plastic beams every meter along the width. To his left, all the plants in the room had been moved, crowded together, haphazardly piled on tables, chairs, and the floor. To his right, Mrs. Erin Nolan lay prone on an aluminum framed bed, stark white sheets and blankets bleached yellow by the sun, a single tube extending from her emaciated left arm into a clear plastic bag dangling from a metal pole by the bedside. The sole color came from a small square of cloth laying across her torso, gripped tightly by her right hand, faded and edges haggard, it had the face of a puppy stitched into the center in green yarn. Older than anyone in the house except Erin, she had this blanket since her now deceased little sister made it for her 70 years ago.

Kerrie pointed to the bed, and held back a sob, “She’s not awake very often. I would prefer you didn’t disturb her.”

“I need to run some tests, but I should be able to do so without bothering the Citizen. I do have to ask some questions of someone. Will you be around in half an hour?”

“Yes, though you may find Todd more useful for personal details, he knew her better than anyone at this point.”

“Very well. I’ll begin now. You can stay or go, as you wish.”

Kerrie looked at her mother again, then all but ran from the room, holding her hand to her mouth. He walked over to the bedside, noticed a chair against the wall, pulled it out, and sat facing her. He set the computer on his lap, opened it, and began calling up files as soon as the operating system engaged.

Active Accounts > Inheritance > Incoming > Nolan, Erin > Identification

This was the first time he had actually looked at her, personally. She looked like her daughter, but all dried up like a raisin to a grape. Her hair lay in wispy patterns of white on white across the pillow. Her narrow lips fluttered in the weak puffs of air her lungs still managed to expel. Both of her arms lay exposed, pale flesh dangling from the bone, so thin the feeble veins and arteries were visible like a morbid, interactive Jackson Pollock.

He pressed audio record on the keyboard. “This is Manager Peabody, Case #42-10-345p, Nolan, Erin. On Location with Citizen. She is unconscious, gaunt, dehydrated, pale, and malnourished to the untrained eye. First thought upon seeing her is that this human will be dead soon. About to perform DNA test to confirm identity.”

Jerome then set the computer down on the floor, reached into his left shirt pocket and removed a vial containing a cotton swab. Whistling, he popped open the top, removed the swab, leaned down by the side of the bed, stuck it into her urine container that was being filled by a catheter tube plugged directly into her pee hole. He soaked it, and then pulled it back out, and looked to be sure it was saturated. Still whistling, he stuck it back into the vial, replaced the lid, and pressed a button on the bottom. A clear chemical filled the bottom, and the swab turned blue. After painting the inside of the lid with the treated cotton, he laid it face down on a 3 cm square scanner in the upper right corner of the keypad. The he turned to face the Butler.

“Okay, that will take awhile. I will need confirmation of Mrs. Nolan’s estate and assets,” He told Todd the Butler. “and their is a final witness document.”

“Mrs. Nolan, when she was still able, gave me this to give you. It is a complete list of all her holdings.” Todd held out a USB drive.

“Hmmm, yes, I should be able to view this while the scan completes.” Jerome took it, plugged it in, began perusing the list. “All very standard. 2 boats, 3 houses, a farm, several vehicles, oh a private airplane, very nice. Ah, she still owned shares in quite a number of companies, usually they buy them back before death. That will fetch quite a nice sum. Very good, very good, everything seems to be in order.”

“I’m very happy for you.”

“Hmm? Oh yes, sorry. Well, as you know, property will not transfer to the state until 6 months after death. Cash and investments will transfer immediately. The funeral cost will be-”

“Can we not talk about this right here. She can still hear, you know.”

“Oh, well, if you wish.”

“I wish.”

“I just have a 1 more thing to do here with the body.”

“Mrs. Nolan.”

“Yes, who else?”

“I meant- never mind, just hurry up and be done, I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

“I understand.”

Exactly 14 minutes and 30 seconds after beginning his Citizen Inventory, Fund Manager Jerome Peabody completed it. He had also measured and weighed the Citizen, and complied a complete list of her demographics. Finalizing his checklist, Jerome stood and went outside for Todd the Butler. He found him standing in the doorway, facing forward, hands at his side, eyes brimming. “Excuse me, Todd, I could use your assistance inside.”

The Butler cleared his throat and replied in quivering falsetto, “Of course, I’ll be right there.”

Jerome returned to his laptop, balanced it on his left palm, and with his right thumb pressed a preset on the number pad. An application of his own design opened with a absolutely no fanfare at all, beyond the interface fading in full screen. The camera and mic were now set to record at the touch of a button, and the scanner became touch sensitive. Todd entered the room.

“Okay, Todd, you will say your name, that you are a “witness”, and the date, and then put your thumb on the scanner like I do.”

“My thumb?”

“Yes. I am here to confirm this is her, and you are confirming that I am actually here. Can’t have people defrauding The Pool. Trust but verify, as the proverbs say.” Jerome found it was helpful to reassure people with traditional sayings. The Butler gave him a funny look but shrugged and nodded. Jerome was satisfied with that. He continued ahead.

Reaching up, he pressed the space bar and the word recording appeared on the screen in red. He straightened his shoulders and looked into the camera, “This is Jerome Peabody Fund Manager for the Social Economic Justice Fund, performing final inventory for Mrs. Erin Nolan at her primary residence, on October 14, 2042.” Then he placed his thumb on the scanner, it flashed once, then went dark.

Jerome turned the computer to face Todd, and placed both his palms beneath it for balance. “I uh, This is Todd Weaton, Butler to Mrs. Nolan, as good a woman as I’ve ever known, and uh, I am a witness that Mr. Peabody is here, now.” He raised him thumb for the scan, but Jerome stopped him with a gesture.

“Sir, could you, just, say the date.”

“Today is October 14, 2042.” Then he slapped his thumb onto the scanner, hard enough for Jerome to almost lose control of the keyboard.

“Thanks you. Now just 1 more.”

“What do you mean 1 more? What are you doing?” But it was too late for Todd to do anything. Jerome laid the computer on the bed, picked up Erin’s hand, and pressed it on the scanner.

“This is the fingerprint of Erin Nolan, the Citizen whose account has become active.” then he dropped her hand.

Todd had his arms around Jerome by now, he picked him up and tossed the older, smaller, paler man across the room. Jerome landed in a pile of plants, flowers, and chairs, he opened his eyes to see the angry butler storming towards him. Kerrie ran into the room, “What is all that noise? Todd? No! What are you doing?”

“He put his hands on Mrs. Nolan.”


“I was just getting a fingerprint, for my files. It is required.” He stood slowly, bruised and shaken, but not really hurt. He began to vigorously brush the dirt and wrinkles out of his suit, but then surrendered to the situation.

“Is it required that you do it like an ambush, instead of asking politely, like a human being?”

“I find that people are not always accommodating, yet it has to be done. So I take the shortest route.”

“You are a disgusting little man, Mr. Peabody.” Kerrie now turned her sneer on him. “Have you collected everything you need?”

“I have.”

“Then gather your things and leave.”

“Very well.”

Jerome Peabody, Regroup

It took less than 5 minutes for Jerome Peabody to be on the road again. He was quite satisfied to be away from that house. People were most unruly at these times, especially the wealthy. They were so accustomed to being in control of their world and getting what they want, both death and The Pool did not sit well with them.

Ah well, nothing to be done, next on the list. Which would be… Loomis, Arthur T., 34 years 362 days old, 1 child, married, property totaling 1 vehicle valued at $10,000, cash/ investments totaling $500 cash and -$10,000 debt. Birthdate: October, 17, 2007.

It would take 32 minutes to arrive at the home of Citizen Loomis. Jerome tried to focus on piloting the vehicle, but all he could think about was his disheveled appearance. His new clothes were ruined, even the shoes, which were both comfortable and dress black, had been scuffed in the fall. These were his anniversary present to himself. Now they’re ruined. Not even an apology, instead they use terms like Pool Boy and thief. As if The Pool weren’t essential.

The Pool was the result of the Great Economic Compromise of 2025. American government was stagnate, divided leaders refused to give any philosophical ground, meanwhile the country was sinking deeper into economic ruin. Until President Stein struck a deal all sides could accept. Social Security and Welfare, in all forms, would cease to exist. Medicare would become a universal health insurance plan with a means tested fee. Only spouses can inherit money or property of any type, with certain exceptions for heirlooms. Absent a living spouse, all treasure is converted to cash and entered into The Pool. At age 18, 35 and again at the chosen date of retirement, no less than age 55, all Citizens will receive payments equal to 1/2 the national median income.

Which will be $35,000 today. Jerome mused as he turned into the neighborhood. He swore he recognized these houses. A left on Rodale Street, a right onto Greenway, I know this place. This should be it on the right side, 472. Yes sir, I have definitely been here before. I wonder if it was for a payment or an inventory?

Each yard was neatly squared off by sidewalks of square cement blocks and cracked tar driveways. Basketball nets hung, ragged and rusted, like a field of crosses marking the death of middle aged men’s dreams. Citizen Loomis’s yard was a brown swath of old growth infiltrated by every weed in the region. You could feel the lush green grass in the other yards projecting disapproval towards his yard.

Arthur Loomis, Citizen

Jerome stood next to his vehicle, inspecting himself to be sure he didn’t have any dirt left hanging on him. It was bad enough to be a wrinkled mess, but he couldn’t very well embarrass the government by showing up covered in dirt. He took another look, and then headed up the path towards the white aluminum screen door on the front of the forest green ranch house. Perfectly squared bushes lined the walk on the approach to the house, creating a privacy barrier for the front deck. Jerome stepped onto the cherry stained pine planks, a series of wooden 4×4’s to his left and right, support the roof over his head, all untreated. He stepped towards the door looking for a bell.

“Hello.” From his left, a tiny voice sitting on a hammock. A little girl, 5 or 6, with red hair and a blue jumpsuit, and a cloth doll of some type Jerome was not familiar. “Can I help you?”

He approached her, “Hello. I hope so. I’m looking for a Mr. Arthur Loomis.”

“That’s Daddy, but I don’t know you.”

Despite himself, Jerome smiled, “That’s true, but you’re father is expecting me. Why don’t you tell him that the man from The Pool is here.”

“You’re the PoolBoy?”

“I am not- yes, fine, whatever, please just tell you’re father I am here.”

“You don’t look like a pool guy, you’re not even wearing a bathing suit. You know, we don’t even have a pool.”

“I don’t work on pools. It’s just a nickname. I’m here to discuss something important with your father could you please let him know that I’m here.”

“My Dad is at the store. He’ll be back in a half hour or so.”

“I see. And your mother, where is she?”

“Mommy’s standing behind you.”

Jerome spun around to find a brunette in a ponytail, blue t- shirt, work gloves, and overalls holding a hand spade in 1 hand while covering her giggles with the other. As soon as he saw her he remembered why he recognized the address. She knew him, too.

“Peabody! It’s you, holy cow! You’re my guy, and now my husband’s guy, too! What are the odds of that? Huh? How often does a couple get the same guy? Come in, come in.”

She grabbed his hand and dragged him inside. Her name was Ellen Klein, at least it was 3 years ago. When he new her she was a single, childless, doctoral student. She was the one. For weeks after their meeting he had been unable to work properly, his entire life became unsettled, all he wanted was to reach out to her. But there were rules about that sort of thing, and he did not break rules. Now here she was again, and him with his new, anniversary suit, ruined.

The little girl took his other hand, “My name is Athena.”


“Yes really, what’s your name?”

“Jerome Peabody.”


“Fair enough.”

Ellen patted him on the arm, “Its really nice to see you again. I never thought I’d get to thank you.”

“Thank me?”

“The Payment saved me.” she snapped her fingers, “Out of debt, wiser for the mistakes, and a few grand left to do something with, just like that. I set up a home business which not only pays my bills but also led to meeting my husband.”

“And me!” shouted Athena.

“And you, my little bonus prize. Say thank you to the nice man for setting those dominos in motion.” She hugged and kissed Athena on the head.

“Thanks Peabody, for the dominos.” She beamed at him so enthusiastically he barely had the heart to correct them.

“Really, ma’am, I think you are giving me too much credit. I didn’t give you anything, the law says everyone on their 18th and 35th birthday and retirement. I just verify and deliver.”

“Daddy is going to be 35 this week. Is that why you’re here?”

“Yes. I have to be sure that we have the correct information, address, bank account number, stuff like that, and while I’m here we do an enhanced census report. Then I file my approval and the payment is deposited on the Citizen’s birthday.

“and to answer your prior question, I’ve never heard of a Manager getting assigned both spouses, but the program is getting older now. I mean so far nobody born into the program has retired, so we have a lot to learn yet.”

“Wow, I never thought about that side of it.” Ellen shrugged, then looked around in mock surprise, “I’m sorry, do you want a drink? Something to eat?”

“If Citizen Loomis is going to be another half hour, I suppose I could use a glass of water.”

“Okay. It won’t be quite that long, but it’ll be a minute. How about a muffin, I made muffins this morning, they should still be just a little over room temp. I’ll get some.”

When she came back Athena and Jerome were engaged in a staring contest. He sat upright in the faux Victorian high back, hands laying palm down on his knees, and she sat cross legged on the glass coffee table across from him. She smiled and said “I can not be beaten.”

Jerome, stone faced, said nothing.

“I will not blink.” She said, but you could see the strain was getting to the little girl. She began to shake from the effort, sweat built up on her brow. Jerome didn’t stir.

“I brought water, ice tea, and muffins. If anybody wants to stop competing with children and have some.”

Jerome took the hint, and looked away, “I am beaten. You are the winner.”

“I win! I win!” She hollered and jumped around the room. Hopping from green area rug, to blue couch, to brown love seat, and back again she screamed, “I win!” over and over.

“Alright Athena, enough of that. Don’t be rude to our guest.” Jerome was already pouring himself a glass of water and ignoring the display. “Mr. Peabody, tell me about yourself.” Ellen sat next to him on the couch, and hugging her knees up to her chest.

He almost choked on the water, shocked by the interest in his life, “Me?”

“Yes, you. You must have a life. You know all about me, and my husband, but I don’t know anything about you. That hardly seems fair.”

“I don’t ma’am, I mean there’s-”

“Oh would you please stop being so formal? You know me more intimately than most people, I think you can call me Ellen.”

He blushed at the suggestion that they were intimate, “I don’t know ma- Ellen, my life is not so fascinating. I work and I go home, I’m 47, I own some property and a -”

“Oh no, no, those are just stats. What do you do? I like to garden and make muffins. I help raise this crazed genius. Tell me about you?”

“Well, I enjoy sitting alone at night, on a building rooftop, and just listening to the city; the motors, the feet, the voices, the weapons fire, the alarms, the wind, the buzz of electricity in the wires, a fight between strays, the city. I find the constant measured rhythm of the combined chaos to be reassuring. You know? As if despite all the unknown factors we must face everyday, somehow they combine to form a balanced whole that is always consistent in form.”

“Wow, that’s really beautiful, Peabody.” They looked at each other, and he could see her admiration for his words was completely plutonic, but in that look he felt the burning call of his temptation.

Just then the front door swung open to allow a slender man with a mess of red hair in jeans and a yellow, red, and green horizontal striped T-shirt, carrying bags of groceries. He bellowed a deep brassy, “Daddy’s home! With ice cream.”

“Ice cream!” Athena was off the couch, across the table, and wrapped around his knees before the sound of her voice could close the distance. “Daddy, look, Mommy’s favorite PoolBoy came!”

After Ellen and Arthur stopped laughing, the young man extended a hand to Jerome, “I’m Arthur and I guess you’re from the Pool?”

Ellen interjected, “He’s the same guy who showed up for my payment. Can you believe that? Even he said he never heard of that?”

Arthur looked at him, skeptical,” Really? How bizarre. Well, let’s call it a good omen, and get on with collecting that payment. Shall we?”

Arthur was very happy to get down to business, “Absolutely, sir. We just have to do some paperwork, then I’ll be on my way.”

“Okay, Ellen, could you take the groceries for me before Athena has the ice cream on the rug. Thank you.” He sat down across from Jerome, while he was busily setting up the laptop in the table.

“Alright, to begin I need a DNA sample, for ID purposes, so if you could just swipe your cheek with this,” Jerome reached into his pocket and pulled out a second vial with cotton swab. The process was completed quickly. As was the inventory and fingerprint.

“Very well, sir. Everything appears to be in order. Over the next few days the data from this interview will be catalogued and double checked. Assuming nobody sees an error I missed, you will have a payment equalling half the median income for all households in your primary account on the morning of your birthday.”

“Do you know what that amount is?”

“This morning it was $30,213.45, but it does vary from day to day by a few dollars.”

“A few dollars, huh? Well I guess I’ll just have to wait before i do any real budgeting.”

“Exactly so.”

Ellen had returned, she sat next to Arthur, squeezing his arm, she was so excited, “We’re going to expand our business with half and put the other half away for her college. We’re so excited.”

“What did you do with your 18th birthday payments?” Never before had Jerome taken am interest in the personal lives of his Citizen accounts. He was confused by his own behavior.

They both laughed, she answered, “I went to Australia for a month, came back flat broke. This guy bought a car.”

“I did not buy a car. I bought 3 partially wrecked 1974 Mustangs, and rebuilt them into a single, working vehicle.”
This interested Jerome, “That must have been worth a significant amount of money.”

Arthur looked a little embarrassed, “It was for about a week, until I wrapped it around a tree.”

Ellen giggled, “Not just any tree.”

“It was the tree outside the Mayor’s house. In the middle of his front yard to be precise.”


“Yes. So, what money I had left was spent on fines, etc.”

“But now you have business together?”

Ellen perked up, “Yes, we have a one of those antique bookstores with a wine bar, so you can have a drink and snack while reading an old fashioned print book. You wouldn’t believe how popular it is.”

“Your probably right. Well, barring any unusual circumstance, your payment sold process on your birthday. Thank you for the muffin.”

“Oh, can’t you stay for dinner?”

“Ellen, let the man go, he’s probably got more clients to see.”

“Thank you for the offer, but that really wouldn’t be appropriate.” Why do I want to say yes so badly.

Jerome gathered his computer, and walked out the door, down the path, and stood by the driver side of his vehicle. He paused and looked up at the porch, Athena hung off the post, swinging back and forth, watching him, she waved. He waved back. Then he got into the vehicle, backed out of the driveway, and whistled all the way home.

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