In Mr. Hogan's library, the air conditioning hummed on.
Julie watched the breakers. Tim came over next to her, a little stiff in his suit, and took her hand.
She remembered having a bit part in the school play, during her junior year. She and some guy she hardly knew were cast as a couple, and were on stage for a total of about three minutes. All they did was stand in a corner and hold hands. They never said a single word to each other, through all the rehearsals, all of the performances—even at the cast party when it was all over.
Mr. Hogan finished looking at the contracts. He took one more glance at his watch, then stood up, and cleared his throat.
"All right," he said. "That's umm… It's time to go out there, now. I'll make the announcement, if that's all right with everyone?"
He paused, and glanced at each of them.
"Fine. That's fine. And then… If any of you want to say anything in addition?"
He raised his eyebrows at Julie's mother. She shook her head.
"No?" he said, "Well, then, I'll make the speech, and then, let's allow…"
He glanced at his watch again.
"Oh… ten minutes for all the congratulations and everything, and then we can come back up here to sign the restaurant papers—keep everything spinning along nicely that way. After the signing we can just go back down and… and enjoy ourselves."
He nodded to himself and to them.
Julie wondered if she was supposed to say something.
Mr. Hogan nodded again.
"Fine, then… Everybody ready? Okay. Here we go."
* * * * *
In the ambulance, Al bobbed his head in time to the music, and let his eyes drift over the houses and the cars along the street. The trees, arching overhead, made a pleasant flicker of shadow and light as he eased the ambulance down the street.
Jonesy leaned forward next to him, peering tensely this way and that.
"Take it real slow, Al," he said. "We don't want to pass him by."
* * * * *
William led the little group out onto the deck—to the space he had Nick leave near the door, for them to stand.
He was very pleased.
The price for the restaurant wasn't bad, considering it was a beach-front property, and, with the impending marriage, the money wouldn't really be leaving the family, anyway.
He lined the three of them up in a row. Ann gave her daughter's arm an excited little squeeze.
Yes. Things were going very well, finally.
He stepped in front of the others, and closed his eyes for a moment, imagining his little top, spinning confidently.
He cleared his throat.