On The Move
“Hello,” JR said into her phone as she answered it.
“Are you busy?”
“No, shop’s empty at the moment.”
“I was wondering how you were doing today,” Jacqueline said.
JR smiled to herself. “I kind of like this new concern you have for my wellbeing.”
“I’ve always been concerned with your wellbeing.”
“Not like you’ve been demonstrating lately,” JR corrected.
“I think it’s the ‘demonstrating’ part that’s different.”
“That’s for sure.”
“Did I not express it before?” Jacqueline asked trying to remember when she had last asked JR how she was. Until recently, she could not think of anytime, unless JR had actually been ill.
“It’s okay,” JR said quickly. “I’m just reveling in our closeness.”
“Glad to hear that. I seem to be thinking about you all the time.”
“Things are kind of different.”
“Different in a good way, I hope,” Jacqueline queried.
“But of course,” JR laughed.
“Have you told anyone about our new … circumstances?” Jacqueline asked.
“I thought we agreed that it would be our little secret for now.”
“I haven’t told a soul.”
“Me either,” Jacqueline said.
“How long are we going to keep it a secret?” JR asked.
“I just need to get it absorbed into my being and then we can tell everyone.”
“I’m worried that my father may suspect something.”
“Why would he suspect?”
“Because I can’t wipe the smile off my face,” JR said with a giggle.
“I love you, babe,” Jacqueline stated.
“I know, and I feel so great that you do. I love you right back.”
“I want to feel like this always.”
JR frowned. “You do know that we will have highs and lows in this relationship.”
“Really?” Jacqueline teased.
“Think about the last few weeks. I thought we were destined to break up.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. How do we prevent things from heading south?”
“Remember that word we discussed - CONVERSATION! We have to talk to each other.”
“Right! I can do that.”
“I know you can,” JR replied. “Just don’t forget about it.”
The bell over the door of the shop tinkled signaling a customer.
“Gotta go,” JR said quickly.
“Love you back.” They both hung up.
“May I help…?” JR started to say as she turned towards the person who had come in. “Dad?”
JR grimaced but decided not to try to correct her father and his use of that term of endearment. She had tried to get him to stop using it for years and had been totally unsuccessful. “I wasn’t expecting you in today,” JR said.
“I know, just wanted to touch base. Have you found any more houses to look at?” Michael asked.
“We’re taking a bit of a break. Apparently Uncle Brian told Jacqueline that he might have some ideas about a house for us.”
“Brian?” Michael asked with a deep frown. “What does he know about houses?”
“I’m not sure, but if you could watch the store for a while, maybe I could catch him at Kinnetik. I know he’s in town for a bit.”
“If you need advice, I’m here,” Michael said hopefully.
“I know, Dad, and I promise we’ll consult you before we make any final decision.”
“I’d like that.”
“I love you, Dad,” JR said as she gave her father a peck on the cheek and grabbed her coat from the rack. She was out of the store before Michael could say anything else.
JR walked quickly along the street heading in the direction of Kinnetik. All of a sudden she slowed down and took out her phone. Maybe her Uncle Brian wasn’t at Kinnetik even if he was in town. Maybe he was in a meeting and couldn’t see her. She was about to call when she decided that she’d just go to Kinnetik and take her chances. It was a better alternative than going back to the store and having to explain things to her father while trying to keep her secret from him. Besides, if all else failed, she could always visit Gus and Ray at Kinnetik.
When she pushed open the door of Kinnetik, she realized that it had been a long time since she had been in the building. The young man behind the reception desk was totally unknown to her.
“May I help you?” he asked.
“Um, I’d like to see Brian Kinney,” JR said uncertainly. She suddenly regretted not calling ahead.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Um, no but…”
“I’m sorry, but Mr. Kinney is very busy.”
“Could you check with him, please? He might see me.”
“I doubt it, but what is your name?”
“Just tell him JR wants to speak with him,” JR said feeling totally out of her depth.
“JR!” a voice called. She turned to see her brother coming out of a doorway. “What are you doing here?”
“Am I glad to see you, Gus,” she said as he gave her a big hug. “I wanted to talk to Uncle Brian, but your receptionist says he’s busy.”
“Alvin, this is my sister,” Gus said introducing her to the receptionist.
“I … I’m sorry, Miss JR. I had no idea,” Alvin stammered.
“Get on the blower and tell Dad that we’re coming in,” Gus ordered.
“Yes, of course,” Alvin said as he picked up the phone.
“Gus, he said your Dad was busy,” JR warned.
“He’s supposed to tell exactly that to anyone he doesn’t know,” Gus replied with a laugh. He took JR’s hand and headed for Brian’s office.
JR stopped just before they reached Brian’s inner sanctum. “Alvin?” JR asked. “Who names their kid Alvin?”
“It’s just a nickname. He grew up loving the Chipmunks,” Gus said with a grin. “Hey, Pop, look who I found in the lobby,” Gus said as he strode confidently into Brian’s office.
“JR, this is a pleasant surprise. What are you doing here?” Brian asked.
“I came to see you,” JR stated.
“Then I’ll leave you to it,” Gus said heading for the door.
“You and Ray should come for dinner soon,” JR said before he disappeared with a wave of his hand.
“Can I take that as a yes?” JR laughed.
“Most likely. If food is involved, I’m sure they’ll be there.” Brian motioned to a chair and JR sat down. Brian perched on the edge of his desk. “What can I do for you?”
“Jacqueline told me that you said you had some idea of how to solve our problems with getting a house.”
“Did she now?” Brian asked with a smirk. “I didn’t really expect her to take me up on that.”
“Well, that’s why I’m here.”
“She send you to butter me up?” Brian asked cynically.
“She doesn’t even know I’m here. I was curious about what kind of idea you had for us.”
Brian nodded in approval. “John and I were talking after your trip out to the lot. We’re thinking of building the house and renting it out with an option to buy.”
“Really?” Brian nodded. “You’re not doing this just for me, are you? We can look after ourselves,” she said with some defiance.
“I know that very well, JR. It started out as a way for John to build his house.”
“It does look like a great house,” JR said with enthusiasm.
“We decided that having a house on the lot would make it more saleable. In fact, we’re thinking about buying up other lots in the Village and building affordable houses on them.”
“That sounds like a great idea. I really do love the look of the house John designed.”
“You could have first dibs on it … if a certain other party approves.”
“I think she will.” JR stood up and pulled Brian into a warm hug. “You’re the best, Uncle Brian.”
“I like to think so,” Brian agreed as he hugged her back; he gently pecked the top of her head.
JR released him and took a step back. “I’ll talk to her tonight. We might need some more details.”
“Thanks again, I love you,” JR said as she headed for the door.
Brian shook his head and smiled happily to himself.
JR walked out of Kinnetik with a smile on her face. She was almost ready to face her father when she decided that lunch and a nice cup of hot cocoa was in order first. As she entered the Liberty Diner she saw John and Gordon sitting at the counter waiting for their take-out orders. They had a bunch of hungry workers to feed.
“Hi, Uncle John!” JR said as she threw herself into John’s arms to give him a big hug.
“Hiya, young lady,” John cheerfully greeted her with a warm hug. “What brings you in here?”
“I need a little fortification before going back to the shop; Dad’s been helping me there.” John nodded; he needed no more explanation than that.
“I was just at Kinnetik visiting Uncle Brian,” JR said after she gave the waitress her order then sat at the counter. “Thank you so much for building us the house and letting us rent it. I can’t wait to move in,” JR gushed.
“I, uh, sure,” John sputtered. He was confused on how their plans went from the talking stage to JR and Jacqueline being ready to move in. Before he could question JR any further, the waitress came back with JR’s order of a simple salad and hot cocoa. JR paid her check then left with a happy smile on her face.
“Bye, Uncle John! Love you,” JR said as she walked out.
“What just happened?” John asked out loud.
“It looks like your brother jumped the gun,” Gordon casually commented as he snickered.
Just then the waitress came back to the counter with two neatly packed fragrant shopping bags filled with food for their hungry crew.
“Why don’t I take care of these while you clarify things with Brian,” Gordon suggested.
“Good idea,” John said as he donned his coat and marched himself out of the diner. He was working his way up to be pissed off with every step he took.
Gordon wrestled with himself for a few seconds. He never interfered with the brothers before, but he decided this warranted at least a warning call so Gordon took out his phone.
“Where is he?” John demanded as he stepped through Kinnetik’s doors and came face to face with someone he didn’t recognize. Alvin was at a loss for words and very confused. He swore Brian was in his office, wearing a charcoal grey pinstriped suit and not looking like an angry lumberjack, complete with flannel shirt and work boots.
Alvin was extremely confused.
Hearing the commotion, Ted sprinted to the reception area. “Hi, John, how are you?” Ted asked, hoping to defuse John’s ire.
“Very well, thank you,” John replied politely. “Where’s Brian?”
“In his office,” Ted replied.
“Alone?” Ted nodded. “Good,” John said. Then with a determined looked, John marched toward Brian’s office.
“Uh, I didn’t know Mr. Kinney had a twin brother,” Alvin ventured.
“He doesn’t. That’s John Anderson, technically Brian’s older half brother. But, yes, they have been taken for twins,” Ted explained.
“He looks angry,” Alvin commented.
“I’m sure it’s nothing. They’re remarkably close; they even live in the same house, sort of.”
“Sort of?” Alvin was getting more confused.
“Long story. My advice, just stay out of their way and hold all of Brian’s calls unless it’s Justin or Bree,” Ted advised.
“Justin or Bree?” asked Alvin.
“Never mind, just switch any calls for Brian to me and I’ll deal with them,” Ted instructed.
“Sure thing, Mr. Schmidt. I can do that,” Alvin stated, much happier now that he had clear instructions.
Ted rolled his eyes then went back to his office.
“Kinney, what the fuck have you done now?!” John growled as he and his size twelve steel toed work boots stomped themselves into Brian’s office.
“To what are you referring?” Brian calmly asked from behind his computer screen. Forewarned meant forearmed.
“I just saw JR at the diner. She and Jacqueline are under the impression that we’re building them a home and they’re ready to move in at any moment.”
“What about it?”
“Am I missing something here? When did you go out and buy up the lots?”
“You’re not missing anything, and I haven’t bought a fucking thing. It was obvious when the girls came back to the party that they had an argument. And Jacqueline was about to do something stupid; I only suggested she not drink herself into trouble and to have some patience.”
“Oh well, that’s the pot calling the kettle black. When does Brian Kinney ever exhibit patience?”
“Right now, as a matter of fact,” Brian growled as he slowly rose from his chair. “And what the fuck is your problem? Did we not have this discussion? Didn’t you show me pictures the other night of the lots you want to purchase that are appropriate to build affordable homes on?”
With every word Brian’s voice got louder and his growl deepened. John quickly ran out of steam.
“Apparently, Jacqueline came around to the idea of she and JR moving out of her fucking loft and into a real home. Specifically, a bungalow that you want to build. Now tell me what the fuck is wrong with that?!” Brian got into John’s face.
Before their conversation progressed any further, Brian’s intercom buzzed.
“What!” Brian shouted as he slapped the button.
“Hey, Pop, we can hear you two upstairs. Just letting you know,” Gus said without impunity. A snicker was clearly in his voice.
The brothers took a breath.
“I apologize, I don’t know why I got so angry,” John admitted. “We did talk about this. As a matter of fact, Gordon thinks us going into the real estate business is a great idea. He’s looking forward to filling those lots with cozy homes. And frankly, so am I.” John looked a bit defeated.
“Forget it,” Brian said as he waved his hand at his brother. “Call it a man-o-pause moment. Coffee?” Brian asked as he poured himself a fresh cup and gave a cup to John. John took a careful sip and felt himself become human again instead of the raving maniac that had invaded Brian’s domain.
“Can we afford to buy up the lots?” John asked.
“Yes, we can. I had Teddy crunch some numbers for me and we’re good. I have Ray looking into the legalities of us genuinely going into the real estate business as opposed to us buying and selling piecemeal. Jennifer is working on your list of lots. Some of them may be privately owned. I’m prepared to make reasonable offers,” Brian stated. “When Jennifer confirms which lots are owned by the city, she and I will go to city hall to make bids.”
“I’d like to be a part of that conversation. I can bring my designs and answer any questions regarding the construction side of things.”
“Reminds me of when you renovated the bath house, theater, and the bowling alley,” Brian said softly as he reminisced about that time. John smiled at the memory. The theater with its huge crystal chandelier was the highlight of the renovation.
The chatted for the next hour, hashing out their plans and coming to an agreement. All was right in their world again.
“You working late tonight?” John asked as he prepared to leave.
“Nope, I have some serious plans for the blond and a certain piece of furniture,” Brian said with a lascivious grin. “I wonder if we have ice cream.”
John shook his head as he sought wisdom from the ceiling then walked to the door. Brian came around from his desk, deciding to walk his brother out.
“By the way, who is that kid in reception?” John asked but not expecting an answer. Brian just shrugged as they went through the main work area of the first floor. John smiled at those he remembered.
“You two friends again?” Gus teased as he met them by reception.
“I have no idea to what you’re referring,” the brothers chorused, cracking up Gus.
Alvin’s eyes bugged out at the sight of the “triplets.” The triplets said nothing.
“Gus, the bedroom wall and doors should be finished today,” John began his update. We’ll apply the first coat of paint then the second tomorrow. Don’t be surprised if we crack open a few windows to vent any fumes,” said John.
“The plumbing for the new bathroom has been roughed in. We’ll start testing the fittings out tomorrow," John continued.
“You’ve made good progress,” Brian observed. Gus gave his dad a look of concern. “It’s all good, Sonny Boy. Just marveling at John’s workmanship,” Brian assured his son.
“On that note, I’d better get back. We have several hours more work to do. And I want to complete this project fast before your father buys up half of Pittsburgh,” John said with a smile as he turned to go.
“Only the gay half,” Gus and Brian shouted after him.
The Kinney men parted ways, each going back to their respective offices leaving Alvin scratching his head.
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