…Jude admonished his friend. “This is what you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it?”
Michael pulled up his coat against the subzero wind that seemed to blast the two of them with a complete tone of mockery as they briskly strolled down one of the more featureless blocks of New York’s financial district.
It wasn’t that he didn’t agree with Jude. In fact, his every cell ached to embrace what had been offered, from the tips of his nearly-numb toes to his too-sculpted dark brown hair.
His cell phone buzzed inside his grey SoHo bespoke suit. Although his leather gloves were thin, he was clumsy as he fished the phone out of his pocket. Nerves, he thought.
Oh, Lord. It was his father, calling from Tucson. Michael’s heart looked for somewhere to run as he answered. “Hi Dad.” His father’s deep, weathered bass seemed to tunnel directly into Michael’s soul.
“Hello, son. You know why I’m calling….there’s not much time.”
“Isn’t there anything else we can do to buy us some more room?” Michael asked.
“Despite what we all wish, sometimes there just isn’t an option”, his father replied evenly. “And this is one of those moments.” Michael knew his dad spoke the truth…knew that there was no agenda in the definitiveness in which the words were spoken.
“I’ll leave tonight then.” Michael said. “See you soon.” He hung up the phone.
He and Jude rounded the final block to their office building, a featureless skyscraper that couldn’t have been well-described if their lives depended on it. In fact, the best that could be said of it might have been that it looked robust or well-built, a stocky leg bone in the body Manhattan.
Jude had heard the exchange between father and son, and while sympathetic with Michael’s plight, he felt the need to remind his friend of the choice he still had to make.
“Listen, I know this is a poor moment to make such a big decision. Really, I do. It stinks. But if you have to go tonight, then it’s all the more reason to make your choice before you go.”
Jude looked at his friend as they entered the express elevator. “Take the deal, Michael.”
Michael felt the elevator rise briskly, and wondered silently why it never made him feel better to be going up.