In chapter 10, my writing partner had her character heat things up a bit with some flirtation. Jake is trying, yet, she seemed to not be all that interested. She doesn’t know what she wants? So in any event, Jake has been talking to me, and here is what he said.
Jake’s eyes were wide open as he watched Delia walk away. He sat down for a moment and thought about the implications. She seemed interested, but perhaps not really. “Blowing hot and cold? I don’t get it. But she did say there were family matters that preoccupied her. Well, it’s up to her to decide what she wants.” He went downstairs to meet the captain.
Donovan glanced at Jake once he got inside the truck. He smirked as he spoke. “A few minutes, Alex?”
Jake looked at him with raised eyebrows. He knew the ribbing was coming.
“I’m not that old, Jake, that I don’t know when a guy is working it. You interested?”
“I could be.”
Alex began driving back to the station. “Seems like a nice young lady, a few years older than Janie.” Janie was Alex’s daughter. “Good food, at her diner. Let’s see what she comes up with for the menu.”
Jake nodded and changed the subject. “Is there anything else we need to work on regarding City Hall and so forth?” Earlier that day, there was a meeting at City Hall with the Commissioner and the supervisory staff–the captains and lieutenants at all the fire stations in the county. Commissioner Hart talked to them about the next steps in the budget process.
The initial matters had been taken care of at the station level, which Jake and Alex were quite familiar with. Once the departmental auditors accounted for each penny, the captains and lieutenants assessed their current budgets and then made forecasts for future needs. Fortunately, nothing horrible turned up in the audits. If there were problems, they would have been dealt with, because this was not the time to be dealing with waste and fraud. Contrary to bigger city departments, there weren’t many bureaucrats and people to staff no-show positions.
At the intermediate stage, the department’s union representatives met with the town officials to hear exactly what they were dealing with. Jake and Alex had taken care of that step the day they went with Pete to eat at the diner. That was when they heard the reality of what was likely to happen.
Alex spoke up. “Commissioner Hart thinks the next step will be the most crucial one, the public hearings where local members of the community will be able to hear about the budget and present their views.”
Jake shuddered. “Those meetings are always rough, because everyone comes out of the woodwork to talk about money, and from every part of the political spectrum.” Although the town was a quiet one, extra police were always on hand in case things got out of control. “That’s the thing, nobody wants to pay more in taxes, but everyone wants great services.”
“The one good thing we have going, Jake, is that the department is thought of highly in the community. It helps that we do a good job at PR. Like Commissioner Hart suggested, we should have as many men at the hearing, sitting in the audience. People need to see that we are here and a part of the community. I think the Commissioner will be the one to speak on behalf of the departments, but I think he will want a few captains and lieutenants there with him on the stage. ”
“Yes, I remember he said so.”
“I think you should be there. You are part of the group of younger guys in the department who are more in touch with the community.” He smirked, “I remember how the young women swarmed you at the softball game last year.” Even though the game was a friendly rivalry, it drew interest from lots of community members. That is why Commissioner Hart suggested the fundraiser.
“Ah, yes, my fans.” Jake rolled his eyes, as he recalled the young women from Collings, the local women’s college, who tried to get his attention.
“Make sure you contact their coordinator who can arrange for students to get credit for working at the game.”
“Carla Miller was her name.”
Once they got to the station, Alex reminded him of the dates for the hearing, one month away, and the game, three months away. Jake then entered the dates onto his calendar, so that he wouldn’t forget.
On a whim, Jake called Carla. “Hi, this is Jake Rogers calling for Ms. Carla Miller. I’m not sure whether you remember me from last year’s softball game?”
Jake smiled on hearing Carla’s pleasant voice. “Of course, I remember you! The fireman who had all my girls in a tizzy!”
He laughed out loud. “Hey, if it gets us support from Collings, I’ll be happy to be the guy.”
“So how can I help you? I’m guessing the game is coming up again soon.”
“Yes, it is, but things will be different. This year, there will be a fundraiser for the local hospital. Perhaps there will be opportunities for your girls to get credit for working at the event?”
“Fantastic. Should we meet and chat?”
“Sure, why don’t I stop by Collings soon?”
Carla checked her calendar. “How about Friday at 4:00? There is a coffee shop at the library where we can meet. Do you need directions?”
“No, I know exactly how to get to Collings, and I’m sure there are maps around to direct me to the library.”
Meeting up with Carla, Jake was taken aback. He hadn’t seen her for a while, but he didn’t remember her being as pretty. Studying her outfit, she looked slim, attractive, and well put together. He mused silently, “life must be good, being a young staff member at a nice women’s college.”
Their meeting went well. Carla was going to advertise the softball game as a fun community event, and depending upon how many hours the young women worked, they would earn a number of credits. “It will appeal to the students majoring in athletics, nonprofit management, communications, and food service. The possibilities are endless.”
Jake was glad. The young women volunteers might be able to do a lot of work prior to the game and on site. The town agencies didn’t have enough staff to do everything, so the young women were likely to gain experience as part of their coursework.
At the same time, he remembered Carla from last year, compared to the Carla he was chatting with now. Last year, she was pleasant but she seemed far more reserved, and even matronly. But now, she was different, but he couldn’t figure out what is was. In any event, he liked the Carla he was dealing with now.
Something occurred to him. “Was last year your first year on staff?”
She was surprised. “How did you know?”
“You seem different somehow.”
“Last year was my first year on the job, it was a transition. I had been living with my parents for a year, and had just moved back to Collings. It took a lot to adjust to being a staff member compared to being a student.”
Jake smiled in admiration. “It looks like you have been doing well.”
“I have been, thanks. This is my second year on staff. I graduated three years ago.”
She asked, “And how have things been this past year?”
“I have been fine, thanks, the usual job stuff, but that’s it. I’m looking forward to the game, it always is a fun event.”
Carla made eye contact. “You know, I always wondered what my girls were all flipping out about when they attended the game last year.”
Jake smirked. “I have no idea, but you are curious, you say?”
Carla smiled back and touched his hand. “I am.”
“You know, there is a book reading by this local author, part of the artists’ colony in the local community. Do you feel like going?”
“I’d be happy to. When does it take place?”
“Next Saturday night. Dinner beforehand?”
“That sounds great!”
Jake smiled all the way back to the fire station.
Meeting up with Carla, they had a great time talking about the ups and downs of their job. They each had jobs managing younger people, but Jake had more distance from the younger firemen. Carla, in turn, was not that much older, and she even knew some of the students when they were younger and Carla was a student as well. There was much to laugh at.
Walking over to the bookstore, Jake was glad that Carla seemed to enjoy his company. She was easygoing and looked very nice, even more put together than when they had met at Collings. Taking their seats, they listened to the talk. During the break period, they walked around for a bit. Jake liked that Carla was probably among the most attractive young women at the venue.
Laughing at something Carla said to him, he grabbed her hand and they made their way back to their seats once the break period ended.
Looking up, he saw Delia with her friend, Joan. Making eye contact, he smiled.
Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.