Chuck Announces a Funeral

(This was cut from the last chapter. Unnecessary.)

Chuck Molinsky stood at the head of a long table in the conference room at Benton, Davis & Molinsky. He had managed to catch everyone on the way in that morning and direct them to a quick meeting. The suddenness of the meeting had resulted in a somber silent mood in the room. “Thanks for meeting in such short notice,” Chuck said, mentally checking off a list of employees and confirming everyone was there. “I’ll only take a minute or two. Some of you have been here long enough, you may remember Tracy Ravenna. She was killed this weekend in an automobile accident.” 

 

Christine Gardner let out a quiet gasp.

“Her funeral is tomorrow afternoon at two. I’m sure most of you are also aware that Tracy and I had an affair and we have a son. I’m asking you, if at all possible, to please come to the funeral, regardless of what you may have thought of Tracy. Do it for Jack’s sake.” There was no movement, not a sound as Chuck’s announcement sunk in. “I’m going to be out for several days. Call me at home if you need me.” He picked up his briefcase and started to walk out.

“Chuck,” Chad Mitchell broke the silence. “Do you need pallbearers?”

“Thanks, Chad. As a matter of fact, we do. Thanks a lot.”

 

Indemnity
606 N. Cross St RobinsonIL62454 USA 
 • 618-544-5757

Bobbi Gives Shannon Some Bad News

 

(Cut from Chapter 23)

“Mommy, what’s wrong?” Shannon asked. Even at five, she could sense that, once again, things in her life were about to be turned upside down. “Where’s Daddy and Jack?”

“Come and sit,” Bobbi said inviting Shannon to come and snuggle up on her lap. Once Shannon had settled in, Bobbi smoothed her daughter’s hair. “Jack’s mother has been in a car wreck. She’s in very bad shape. Daddy took Jack to the hospital. I’m going to go be with them as soon as I can get someone to stay with you.”

“But I want to go.”

“I know you do, but the emergency room is a big, scary place, and I would rather that you didn’t have to see all of that. This is going to be very hard for Jack, and I need you to help Daddy and me take care of him.”

“Is Jack’s mom going to die?”

“I don’t know, Baby.”

Shannon looked away, close to tears. “I’m sad for Jack.”

“I am, too. He’s going to need us to love him a lot.”

“You can go love him. I’ll love him here.”

“Thanks for understanding.” Bobbi kissed Shannon’s forehead and picked up the phone. “Rita? I need you again.” Bobbi quickly explained and Rita immediately volunteered to stay with her niece. Bobbi placed the phone back in its holder. “That was easy.”

“Aunt Rita likes me,” Shannon said.

“She should.” Bobbi smiled and lifted Shannon off her lap. “You can go ahead and watch the movie.”

“I’ll wait for Daddy and Jack. It won’t be the same.”

Joel and Bobbi

 

(This discussion between Bobbi and Joel in Chapter 18 didn't really advance the plot, so it's here and not in the book.)

Friday, September 28

Later that evening, Chuck took Shannon out for a movie and ice cream date, but not before helping his mother get settled back in Brad’s room for the night. As Bobbi brewed her nightly coffee, Joel wandered into the kitchen, and began searching through the cabinets. “Hungry again?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s been almost two hours,” Joel answered. He took out a large bowl and filled it with cereal.

“You want some coffee with that?” Bobbi asked when the coffeemaker finished.

“Sure,” Joel mumbled through a mouthful of corn flakes.

“Who raised you?” Bobbi teased. “They should have taught you some manners.”

“Oh, she taught me,” Joel answered. “I’m just rude.”

“She is not reassured.” Bobbi set a cup on the counter beside him, and sat down at the kitchen table. “So how’s Abby?”

“Fine. She was glad to meet everybody finally.”

“She’s very sweet, Joel. You chose well.”

“Told ya,” he answered, taking a long drink from his coffee.

Bobbi slid her coffee cup closer. “You never told her that I had reservations.”

“You had vehement opposition, Mom, not just reservations.”

“Even so, you never told her.”

“No,” Joel said. He put his bowl in the sink and joined his mother at the table. “You apologized. It’s gone. Besides, the last thing Abby needed was somebody else standing in judgment of her.”

“Joel, I’m sorry,” Bobbi said quietly.

“It’s okay. I know I hit you at a bad time, which was extremely inconsiderate, and selfish. I get that way sometimes. I think it’s a guy thing.” Joel smiled. “Abby didn’t get exactly the same reception that Dad did when he went before the church. Her family was kind of left twisting in the wind. Nobody really came alongside them.”

“How have her parents handled things?”

“Less than perfect. Her dad especially.” He took a drink from his coffee. “You know, I’ve seen pictures of her from before it all happened. She looks like a different girl. It’s like she’s been extinguished. Her eyes don’t light up the way they used to, and her smile is gone. Of course, that doesn’t mean she never smiles. It’s just not the same.” 

“We went through that, too, honey. It just didn’t last as long.”

“Well, I’m ready for her to be free of all that. She never allows herself to relax and enjoy where she is now, because of what she did in the past. It still controls her.”

“Isn’t counseling helping?”

“She’s a hard woman, Mom,” Joel said with a smile. “You know the type.” He leaned back in his chair. “She thinks the world of you, though. Maybe you’re the key.”

Bobbi sipped her coffee. I can’t be everybody’s key. Jack, Tracy, and now Abby. Who’s going to be my key? As if there weren’t enough pressure on her already. “So when are you bringing Abby home for a real visit?” Bobbi hoped changing the subject would clear her head.

“When does Dad have Jack again?”

“Tomorrow, Wednesday and next weekend.”

“Tomorrow? Why just Saturday?”

“Jack didn’t get to see Grandma, so he’s coming over tomorrow for a while.”

“And Tracy let him?”

“It was her idea.”

“Go figure.”

“I’d rather not,” Bobbi said, finishing her coffee.

Ann and Bobbi Discuss Tracy

(Cut from Chapter 18, Bobbi and Ann discuss Tracy and the progress with Jack.)

 

“Ann Molinsky,” Bobbi said in a teasing reproof. “You’re supposed to let somebody help you down the stairs.”

“I took my time. I’m fine.” She eased herself into one of the kitchen chairs. “Everything smells wonderful. Is it a roast?”

Bobbi nodded and pulled the pan out of the oven. She placed carrots and potatoes in with the roast before sliding it back in the oven. “Joel’s going to be home in time for dinner, so I thought I should have something for him to come home to.”

“You’re a good mother, Bobbi.”

“I love my kids.”

“All four of them,” Ann agreed.

Bobbi nodded and pulled a chair up to the kitchen table beside her mother-in-law. “Yes, all four of them. Although, I think Tracy would have a stroke to hear me call Jack mine.”

“She engineered this situation. She surely took into account that you would love Jack like your own.”

“Ann, I wouldn’t hazard any guesses about what she thinks. She’s so unpredictable. She showed up at the hospital the morning of your surgery, to tell Chuck she wished you all the best. Then that afternoon at the court meeting, she went off and stormed out.”

“She wants something from you,” Ann said, as she thought about Bobbi’s comments.

“Me? Forgiveness?”

“No…  I think it’s about Jack. You are the biggest gamble in her plan. If you don’t love Jack, then she’s exposed her son to rejection and set him up to feel second-rate the rest of his life. She’s ruined him.”

“And the question is, what is worth that risk?”

“I don’t know, but she’s desperate. Debt, illness, something big.”

“Ann you’re amazing. I’ve never known anybody who could size people up like you do. Chuck never got away with anything growing up, did he?”

“He still doesn’t,” Ann said with a wink.

Brad and Glen

 

(In the drive to trim the subplots, this scene in Chapter 14 had to go. However, the essence of it was worked into a conversation with Brad and Chuck back in Chapter 13.)

“Not you, too!” Shannon said. “Mommy and Daddy always have to stay after church.”

“Just for a minute,” Brad said, “then you can pick the restaurant.”  

“You told me I could pick the restaurant, anyway.”

“Anybody ever tell you you’re too smart for your own good?”

“Yep. All the time.”

“Brad! Sorry to keep you,” Glen Dillard called from down the hall.

“Thanks for talking with me. I’ll just take a minute.” When Glen got close enough, he shook Brad’s hand, then opened the door to his office. “Have you talked to my dad?” Brad motioned for Shannon to stay put, then followed the pastor into his office.

“Just long enough to know that he and your mom wouldn’t be here this morning. Have a seat.” Glen waited for Brad to sit before he took his place behind the desk. “What can I do for you?”

“I, uh, dropped out of law school this week,” Brad said.

“I bet that was quite a shock to your folks,” Glen said.

“That’s an understatement. I told my mom a while ago, but I hadn’t been able to tell my dad. I was afraid of how he’d take the news.”

“How did he?”

“Pretty hard, until I told him why. You see, Pastor Glen, I want to go to seminary.”

“Brad, that’s great! Tell me how it happened.” Glen leaned back in his chair, settling in for a good story.

“I live downtown. Well, downtown enough, and everyday I see a whole population sinking deeper in despair, slipping farther away from the reach of the gospel. These people shouldn’t have to pay through eternity just because they didn’t have the advantages that I’ve had. I was raised in church, in a home where my parents taught me who Jesus was.”

“You’re absolutely right, Brad.”

“There was this one guy… his name was Julius, and I’d see him every morning out by my car. For a long time, I thought he was trying to steal it. One morning, I don’t know what got into me, but I asked him to breakfast. He wouldn’t go. Called me a rich boy, among other things, and said he didn’t want to be seen with me.”

“That’s all right. Half the time Laurie doesn’t want to be seen with me.” Brad smiled. “How old was this guy?”

“He could have been fifteen or twenty. It was hard to tell. So every time I left, and Julius was around, I asked him to go with me, or if could I drop him somewhere. He’d never let me, but he’d talk to me a little more. He was a big Rams fan, so we talked a lot of football. I asked him if he’d ever been to a game, and of course, he hadn’t. So one Sunday, I skipped church to take Julius to a Rams game.”

Glen dropped his jaw in pretend shock. “Oh, I know,” Brad said. “I struggled with it for a long time, but then when we got back to my place-Julius wouldn’t tell me where he lived-he asked me why I’d do all that. I told him if that was what it cost to get him to listen to me, it was a small price to pay. And he did listen. I told him all about Jesus, and Julius was a new man.”

“Amen,” Glen whispered.

“Julius started bringing his buddies around. He was the real missionary, not me. He’d say, ‘You need what that boy got’. Sometimes we’d get through to them, a lot of times we didn’t.”

“You keep using past tense. What happened?”

“Julius tried to get between his mother and her live-in. He was stabbed seven times. The guy knew what he was doing. Julius bled to death almost before they could call an ambulance. I heard about it the next day.”

“Brad, I’m sorry,” Glen said quietly.

“I’ll see him again,” Brad said with a smile. “Maybe I can introduce you.”

“You do that.”

“Anyway, that evening I read Psalm 41. It starts, ‘Blessed is he who considers the poor’ and I studied it out. Poor doesn’t mean just finances. It means helpless, powerless, even hopeless. I can’t turn my back on these people now. I want to get trained and go back to them, and take Jesus to them.”

“Wow,” Glen said, taking a deep breath. “I hate to think what would happen to anybody who tried to get in your way. I’ll help you any way I can.”

“Thanks,” Brad said standing, and shaking Glen’s hand again. “I’ll be calling on you, I’m sure.”

“Hey, let me pray with you before you go.”

“Oh sure, sorry,” Brad said sitting down again.

“Dear God, bless this young man. You’ve given him a tender heart, and he’s followed that leading. Give him wisdom and discernment, and help us to support him. Keep him safe for his mama’s sake. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

“Thanks, Pastor Glen."


Ann on Jack and Bobbi

 

(Also cut from Chapter 14, this quick gives a glimpse of Ann's take on the situation with Jack.)

 

As Bobbi loaded up the dinner dishes in the dishwasher, she could see Chuck and Shannon in the driveway. He had taken the training wheels off her bicycle and he was intently explaining the mechanics of balancing to her. Bobbi watched him moving his hands in a circle, like little feet on pedals, but she could also see that Shannon was anxious to try it without the science lesson.

“This will either be a very momentous evening or we’ll need band-aids.” The telephone rang, drawing Bobbi away from the window.

“I just got off the phone with my grandson,” Ann Molinsky said. “What wonderful news!”

“I know. Brad finally told Chuck last night, so it’s official.”

“He said Chuck took it very well.”

“I think he was a little embarrassed that Brad was so nervous about telling him.”

“Jim was all bluster, too.”

“I think if Chuck had been a little more perceptive, it would have been easier on Brad, but Chuck’s been focused on all this with Jack.”

“Is it any easier for you with Jack?”

Bobbi sighed and pulled up a chair to the kitchen table. “It’ll get easier, I’m sure.”

“He’s absolutely crazy about you.”

“I don’t want to take his mother’s place. I don’t even want to be in a contest with her.”

“I don’t think anyone sees you that way, but he needs you.” Bobbi dropped her eyes. “He needs you to fight for him, and he needs you to love him.”

“I’m working on it.”

“I know you are. It will be worth it.”

Brad’s Phone Call to Joel

(This phone call between Brad and Joel to open Chapter 14 showed a maturity in their relationship that we haven't seen anywhere else, but unfortunately, it didn't make the cut.)

 

 

 

“So what’d he say?” Joel asked as soon as his brother answered the phone.

“After he finished choking on his salad, everything was fine,” Brad said. “I figured it would be, but…”

“You can thank me for softening them up for you.”

“True. After ‘my brother wants to marry an unwed teenage mother’ and ‘my dad has a son from his affair’, dropping out of law school is no big deal.”

“So what do you do now?”

“Talk to the law school office, find a job, and start getting my admission information together.”

“Can you intern in a church or do you have to wait until you’re actually in seminary?”

“I have no idea. I’m going to talk to Glen. Right now though, I’m going to bed. I’m exhausted. Relieved, but exhausted.”

“Yeah, I need to get some sleep, too. I think I may bring Abby home the next weekend Dad has Jack. That may take some of the spotlight off her with him running around, and he can help entertain Ryan.”

“Maybe so.” Brad yawned. “Like I said, bedtime. Thanks for praying, Joel.”

“Thanks for asking me.”

 

Chuck’s Phone Call from Laurie

(The information in this scene from Chapter 13 was redundant.)

 

“Bobbi, Brad’s got some time this evening, so I’m going to take him to dinner,” Chuck explained when his wife answered the phone.

“Just listen to him, Chuck. Don’t start telling him what to do.”

“When have I ever…”

“You don’t want me to answer that.”

“No, I don’t,” Chuck admitted.

“Brad needs this,” Bobbi said. “I’ll be anxious to hear how things go. I love you.”

“I love you, too. See you later.” Chuck slipped the phone back in its cradle. Did Bobbi know more about Brad than she was saying? Before he could shut his computer down for the evening, his phone rang. “Chuck Molinsky,” he said answering after the first ring.

“Chuck, I’m sorry to bother you at work, but Bobbi said you were still there.” It was Laurie Dillard.

“I’m glad you called. How did things go?”

“Fair. She listened to some things. Did you know about her dad?”

“Yeah, I did. I found out quite a bit researching the records to file the paternity claim.”

“She said because she told the truth in the sentencing phase of the trial, her father went to prison instead of getting the death penalty, so she doesn’t tell the truth anymore.”

“I don’t think it’s that simple, Laurie. She’s a very complicated woman.”

“Pray for her Chuck. I feel like we don’t have a lot of time to get through to her.”

“Laurie, I pray for her just about everyday. I hope she keeps talking to you.”

“Me too. Bobbi says you’re having dinner with Brad, so I won’t keep you. I just wanted to let you know that she hadn’t blown up or anything. It was actually quite civilized.”

“Oh she’s very polite, very courteous. You hardly notice how much damage she’s done because she’s so smooth.”

“Just a little scary. Anyway, enjoy your dinner.” Chuck hung the phone up and quickly shut his office down. He was supposed to meet Brad at seven, and now he would be cutting it close. That was assuming Brad was on time.

Brad and Joel’s Pick-up Game

 

(A fun scene from Chapter 8. While it was critical to a subplot, it wasn't needed for the main storyline, and the POV is inconsistent.)

Saturday, September 1

“I’m not too late am I?” Brad caught his mother in the kitchen just as she was starting to make dinner.

“Never,” Bobbi said, leaning over so he could kiss her cheek. “What a wonderful surprise. You’re not working tonight?”

“I have one last shift tomorrow night.” He grabbed an apple from the basket on the counter and took a large bite.

“Is school any better?” Bobbi pulled a sack of potatoes from the bin, and began sorting through them, dropping the chosen ones in the sink.

“I don’t want to talk about school,” he said through a mouthful of apple. “Where’s everybody at?”

“Out back.” Bobbi pointed out the window. “There’s Shannon and Dad. Joel’s out there somewhere.”

“Good. There’s just enough time to beat the mama’s boy in basketball.” Brad crunched the next bite from his apple and headed toward the back door, but then he turned back and grinned. “No offense.”

“None taken.”

There was a large plastic trashcan by the back door that held an assortment of sports equipment. Brad dug through it until he found the basketball, then he called to his little brother. “Come on, sissy boy. Show me what you got!” He dribbled the ball on the driveway while he waited.

Joel smiled and shook his head, then trotted over. As soon as he got close enough, Joel swatted the ball from his brother’s hand. “What are you, like thirty now? Can you even still play?” He dribbled away from the basket.

“How did Mom take your news?” Brad asked, guarding Joel closely.

“About as well as you expected.” Joel pivoted around Brad for a perfect jump shot.

“What about Dad?”

“He’s arbitrating the dispute,” Joel said, handing Brad the ball. “I don’t think he has any reservations about Abby particularly.”

“You’re extremely naïve about this, but then you’ve always been naïve.” Brad took a shot over Joel’s head, but it bounced off the rim.

“How am I naïve?” Joel asked, picking up the basketball.

“Marriage is tough enough, but you want to go into it with a big strike against you. Plus, trying to raise somebody else’s kid… you’re asking for it.”

“Brad, what do you know about marriage? You don’t even have a girlfriend.”

“It never goes away, Joel. Look at Mom and Dad. Everything was clicking along, then out of nowhere, more fallout from his affair. Granted, Abby’s not gonna have some long lost son show up, but there’s gotta be consequences. Things you’ve never considered.”

“Thank you, Mr. Unforgiving Legalist.” Joel took a shot from the left side. ”Consequences and payment,” he said in a mock deep voice. “What about grace and restoration?”

“I’m not saying Abby doesn’t deserve grace and restoration, but those don’t, they can’t, erase the effects of the sin.”

“What about redemption? What about God taking something terrible and bringing good out of it? Like Shannon? Shannon was one of those consequences.”

“Joel, listen to what you’re saying. God redeems, not you. You can’t make this into something good on your own. You need to stop being so self-righteous and listen to Mom. She’s dealt with sexual sin, too, but from the other side.”

“The close-minded, unreasonable side,” Joel muttered.

“She’s not that way, and you know it.” Brad picked up the basketball. “You’re just torqued cause she yelled at her widdle boy.” Joel scowled at his brother, and knocked the ball out of Brad’s hand. “Of course, I kinda like being the ‘good son’ for a change.”

Laurie’s Backstory

 

(I cut this from Chapter 7. As much as I'd like to tell you all about everybody, it is Chuck and Bobbi's book. Plus, it's just exposition. Sorry Laurie. She and Glen have an interesting story. We may try to figure out some way to deliver to you.)

Childcare was an unexpected career choice for a woman who had lost two babies, each in the first trimester. Once her doctor confirmed it was unlikely that she would ever carry a baby to term, she and Glen grieved, but then slowly began to explore how she could use her gift of a tender, compassionate heart towards children. They looked into adopting, and were very close to finalizing when things fell through. The grief was almost as intense as losing a child of their own, and she wouldn’t risk it again. She tried babysitting for working parents for several years, but when she took a job at a daycare a little over twenty years ago, she knew she’d found her life’s work.

At fifty-one, instead of enjoying grandchildren like so many of her longtime friends, Laurie focused on impacting the lives of the children she had under her care. If pressed, she would admit there were times she still thought about, still longed for children of her own, or even grandchildren. She and Glen would have been good parents, but she got a tremendous sense of purpose and fulfillment from her job. She loved her kids, and the kids knew it. Even on the most hectic days, when she and the rest of the staff were worn to a frazzle, she still wouldn’t trade her job for anything.