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Chapter 5 — I can be serious — sometimes.

“Mike seems like a nice guy Jamie?

Yeah, he is we met a few years ago. Unfortunately, his car caught on fire, I was one of the people that responded.

He’d just had some old family photos reframed, they were in the rear of his car when it went up, some small ‘BMW’ wagon. Luckily, the fire had not spread too far and I was able to quickly snatch them out of harm’s way. He was so grateful, he called past the station a few days later with a gift hamper of food that he’d made for us all, we became friends and have been ever since.

After dropping Sam home, I headed back to the folk’s place, I needed to organize some stuff for my trip. If I left it any later, well that would be cutting it fine. Maybe too fine for me even, letting a laugh out.

To my surprise, when getting back to Mom and Dads, I had the place to myself, one of those rare moments where you have that freedom you take for granted, and that I so miss not having my own place.

Walking into the home office, I plopped down in the chair at the desk, sitting at my ‘Macbook’. Opening it up I noticed that the screen had fingerprints on it, someone had been using it… Dad grrr, “it’s not an ‘iPad’ you can’t touch screen it, “I am going to buy him one of those HP Laptops with the touchscreen option, he’s killing me with this.

All right, James Spence, let’s get this done, checklist time.

First, register with the US Immigration Service, for the Electronic Gateway Visa. Click, Click, yes be there for no more than 90 days, check.

Visiting family and friend’s tourist Visa, check. Read the terms and conditions and tick, Done!

Oh, what’s this, sign a piece of paper and hold up to the camera to scan your signature, cool nice new technology. Credit card details for the $15.00 fee, click.

Your application has been accepted, approval under the Electronic Gateway Visa system will be processed and you will be advised in due course.

Ok then, done!

Next. Money, need to transfer some money across to my Multi-Currency card.

I looked around, checking if I still had the place to myself. Call me stupid, but only Gavin knows my financial position, outside of my lawyers. I felt like I was transported back to when I was a nine-year-old, swiping Mason’s stash of ‘Milk Duds’.

Logged in to online banking, I transferred enough to cover a car purchase, and the living budget that Lucas had outlined in his last email, bonus for me there was a special rate available plus I picked up two frequent flyer points per dollar converted to US dollars, nice little winner there, ha-ha.

Alright Jamie, all done. Maybe time for a quick shower… Oh, Shit, I’d better reply to Lucas too! He’s gonna kick my butt.

mailto: Lucas Spence

sender: Jamie Spence

Subject: 8 more days…

Hey Lucas, how are you, buddy.

Eight more days… Eight more days till I get to escape this.

I think Mom is going to drive me nuts beforehand. You would not believe the carry-on that is my everyday life at the moment. “Jamie is running away” is all I hear from everyone, everywhere, your aunty is everywhere mate, I’m surprised that she hasn’t been on the phone to you guys, or has she?

Anyway, I got the email with your budget ideas, thanks, buddy that’s cool. I’ve also looked at a few places on ‘Airbnb’ along the route and some of the stops I’ve got in mind, there are heaps. And well-priced too so we can cut back on our normal, Oops nothing booked, let’s see how it goes.

Although I don’t want to sleep in the back of a truck again in the lower states like we did last time. I had nightmares for 6 months after those nights in the backcountry of Georgia and Alabama, too many bugs, weird sounds coming from the forest around us, and too damn hot to sleep in the truck cabin. Oh my god, if people knew what we got up to down south then. But got to say love me a some fine, corn feed country charm, hmm.

Ok enough of the man dreaming, I’ve found two F150’s to look at. Both reasonable in price, low mileage, though I might buy one, and then sell it when the trip is over?

What do you think?

Also emailed Tom, my former colleague, he’s the guy that took a posting to LA County FD in some sweet place called Castaic. Apparently, a big lake and stuff there, maybe some water-skiing before we head south.

Tom is happy to put bahis firmaları us up for a few days or longer if we want, I thought we could plan our trip from there? I’ll put some ideas together on the flight, and email you in the air. Seeing I’ll be trapped with nothing much to do for 12+hrs in the aircraft, you can only eat and drink so much before you burst. Plus I don’t want to turn up to US immigration half-drunk again, wow I was lucky to make it past them last time, I think Dad saved my ass then. Still remember the weekly lectures I copped from him for months over that, felt like I was sixteen again, oops.

Lucas. Please, the only absolutes around LA are Universal Studios and Disneyland again. I know I can hear you already complaining or rolling your eyes, but hey, I’m a big kid sometimes. Plus, no visit to California is complete without a swim the in the Pacific from your side buddy.

Thought then a few clubs and off to the Hoover Dam maybe?

Oh yeah, I am on QF93 in LA arriving on the 17th at 06:35, I would add an hour or so to clear customs. Am not packing much, just enough clothes to get over there, a smile and toothbrush.

Can wait to see you, Lucas,

See ya! Jamie

Ok James, where that checklist.

Email Lucas — check

Electronic Gateway Visa, complete and paid for — check

Cash transferred to US dollars, loaded onto currency card – check.

What’s next on my to-do list here? Insurances!

Ok MacBook, take me to Members Insurance Co. I need to organize travel and motor insurance, just in case.

Wow, looking through the various policies, so many to choose from, and they don’t look all that different but the prices are so widely varied, why? Think I’ll call my insurance broker, get him to sort it out.

What do I really need, Travel and Motor cover? Ok, a quick email to Anton at Members Insurance Co. he’ll sort it for me, that it will be another ticked off the list.

I leaned back in the chair after emailing Anton, just stopping for a moment. Taking in the enormity of what had happened in the past few days, work, unplanned holiday and Sam.

Ding!!. 1 Message from Gavin.

Oi, you send out invitations for this BBQ, my parents are breaking my balls now because of you Spence…

Quick reply needed here. Shit, Gav didn’t mean for that to happen.

I quickly grabbed my cell phone and thumbed on, Reply to message:

Gav! Oops my bad, sorry. Am sitting down now doing stuff, will do it now. Sorry mate, say hi to your folks for me.

Clicking on send, come on … sending, sending, sent.

Ok on to the last item for today, BBQ invites. Thank god social media has made this so easy, it does have some positive uses I guess. I clicked open ‘Facebook’, then set up a private event.

I am so surprised that so many of my friend’s parents have ‘Facebook”, it’s awesome really.

Event — Jamie Spence is going on a Holiday, come say Hi and Bye

Hi Everyone.

I am having a small BBQ at Mom and Dad’s place this Saturday coming, as I am heading off for a little holiday. Haven’t had much of chance to catch up with Y’all. I would love to see you on the sixteenth.

Please let me know if you can come, (click on going, maybe, or sorry cant) food and drinks provided. To the lovely Moms on the list, please feel free to bring something along, it’s just easier if I agree straight upright, yes, yes, I know. Maybe let Mom know what you are bringing, she will want to know, else I ‘ma gonna hear “make sure we’ve got enough food, James”, so if you love me or Mom, let me know 😉 Bonus hugs for Cornbread’s and wings ok.

Look forward to seeing you on the Sixteenth, 15:00 onwards (3 pm for the civvies) Jamie… the runaway.

I selected my family and family friends address book, send!

I sat back in the chair, running my hands down my face. Okay, think I deserve some free time.

Standing up I grabbed my cell off the desk and sent a group chat message to the boys.

Guys, the booze blackout has ended. I’m going for a few beers tonight if you want to join me. Was thinking that new beer hall that opened across town, let me know if you are in, maybe we’ll get something to eat as well, Jamie.

PS check your Facebook events, have sent the invites out so release the parents, Ha-Ha.

I put the phone down, standing and stretching backward with my hands clasp on the back of kaçak iddaa my neck, the responses came rolling in, Ty and Mark wanted to split an Uber, all good we can collect on the way I replied. Dave, Gav and the rest were meeting us there.

Sam! I snatched up my phone from the desk, walking out towards to my room. Hey Siri, I spoke into my phone while walking.

Call Sam…

“Calling Sam Lowe on mobile.”

“Hey Sam, how are you doing? did you get the shopping sorted.”

“Yeah, I convinced Jeff that it was in his best interests to restock the refrigerator, he complained saying the other guys did it too, not my problem, I told him. You can collect a share from them, but we need food and you guys ate it all.”

Hmm, I thought to myself don’t piss this guy off Jamie, clearly, I was lucky before. “Hey, Sam was planning on going to the new Micro Brewery tonight across town. I would love it if you come along, can collect you in the Uber on the way if you like?”

Sure Jamie, love too, who coming and what time?

“Oh, all the guys you met the other day and a few others I think. I sent out an invite, everyone pretty much jumped at it. Although you didn’t respond, so you got ‘the special service I called you up, Sam.” Aren’t I good? With a cheeky tone to the question.

“Oh, sorry Jamie, was helping Jeff put away the groceries, what time?”

Say 19:30, oh sorry I mean 7.30pm, if that’s okay?

“See you at 19:30 Jamie, got time for a shower and rest up if last time was anything to go by nights out with you James Spence are … action-packed.”

Laughing at Sam’s reply I managed to get out “fantastic see you then.”

..o0o..

The Uber was about 5 minutes out as I was walking back into the kitchen, Mom and Dad were talking about some now double townhouses being built a few streets away.

Hmmm, if there a good fit, that would suit me to the ground.

Hey Mom, can you leave the flyer out for those townhouses please, I’d like to have a look at them.

Sure James, but I’ve booked an appointment with the developer tomorrow for you, the young man running the development is the son one the ladies from my Country Woman’s Association group. I think you boys went to college together, Adam Yates, see here’s a picture of him, he’s such a lovely boy that Adam. Ann-Marie can’t stop talking about him, were always pulling out photos of our boys and comparing, you boys were close to college, weren’t you? He played on that Hockey team with you, didn’t he?

Adam! Yeah, we were in engineering together and on the same team all the way through college, we lost touch after I met Tracey, it would be great to see him again.

Man, he was hot at college, I loved playing hockey, but it helped that Adam was on the team and we seemed to get lockers beside each other all the way thru, and he wasn’t shy in flashing that hot body he had, and that club he had swinging between those legs too, many drunken nights and fun days.

Hmm, I should look him up on Facebook and stalk him a bit. Damn, he has kept himself in shape, he’s rocking it sooo much, like a fine wine almost, one friend request sent.

“Wow Mom, the CWA has come a long way from cooking amazing food and knitting right.” I ducked the flying dishcloth Mom threw at me.

“I’ll have you know James Cameron Spence, the CWA of today has business classes, and a wide graduate mentor program, plus the best cooking you’ll see in your lifetime.”

Mom’s reply came with loads of stink eye coming my way too, and Dad smirking behind her back at me. “Sorry Mom, I was only kidding, thank you I appreciate it.”

“Well Jamie, we can’t have you living here all your life I guess, but I’ll still come around clean and do your laundry for you, sweetie in your own place.”

Oh god mom, please. “Thank you, Mom. Ok, gotta go Ubers here, out with the guys, see you in the morning.”

Walking over and kissing Mom on the cheek and slapping Dad on the shoulder as I walked past him. Yelling out “bye” as I walked out the door, as my phone went ding, one message received. Adam Yates accepted your Friend request, oh look a message too.

“Hey Spence, heard you escaped the wicked witch. But heard you’re running away? Lol Mom’s mate, they love a bit of drama, right. Look forward to catching up, you still acting like a big kid or all grown up now ha-ha by Ad’s.”

I laughed, me a big kid, that’s a pretty rich, kaçak bahis he was worse. I replied with a thumbs up and see you soon, come to the BBQ buddy, I’ll send you an invite, bring your folks too, Spence.

The night had turned a bit cooler, the warmth that had been around for the past few days was giving way to that cool chill that Autumn brings.

I can still hear my Moms parents calling Autumn, fall. It seemed so strange calling Autumn — fall here but, fall works so well in the States.

Jeez I miss my grandparents, I remember the first Christmas I had in the states, I was five and Steph was ten, the twins were being pains, mainly Mason. Granddaddy took us outback at Uncle Simons farm in New Hampshire.

They’d had 6 feet of snow the day before, I’d never seen six feet of snow, let alone a solid wall that was now almost ten feet deep in parts of the fields. We just jumped into it, sank down a bit, it was cold and quiet, but not scary, it was … beautiful. Then Granddaddy and Uncle Simon found some firmer parts to make snow angles in, it was the best. To my not surprise, Granddaddy joined in too, he was always good for a laugh.

He used to tell me as a kid, “don’t grow up too soon my Jamie. Stay young for as long as you can,” I think sometimes I hold on to that, a bit like ‘Peter Pan’ I guess.

Jumping into the front seat of the car, I gave the Uber driver Sam’s address which was only a short drive. Our Uber driver was funny, non-stop jokes all the way till we arrived at Sam’s. I jumped out of the car and ran up to Sam’s front door, ringing the doorbell unnecessarily fast. The chimes were just a blur of sound when Sam pulled the door open, saying to someone in the house, “it’s either scouts selling cookies amped up on sugar or its … Jamie!”

“Of course, its Jamie, Sir. Your Uber awaits,” as I bowed and swept my arm in front of me, directing Sam to the curb. He smiled and shook his head with a grin showing he’d seen the funny side of it all, then playfully smacking my butt as he walked past towards the car.

I jumped in back with Sam, the ride to collect Ty and Dave was entertaining to stay the least. Our driver was an old cabbie, he had loads of funny stories about stuff that had happened in Cabs over the years, everything from births, marriage proposals and loads of make out sessions, every possible thing almost had happened, I said he should write a book about his adventures, I’m sure one of my buddies could help him shape those ideas into an amazing book I offered.

He had been a company cabbie until Uber came along, then he and a few of his buddies bought four cars and started off on their own, with all that experience, he didn’t need Google Maps or a Sat-Nav, he was one. Their plan was simple, Service!

Water bottles in the doors, clean car’s, polite drivers, and make the trip a great part of the passenger’s day, not just a ride from A to B. I liked it, the time seemed to fly by. Next thing I knew we had stopped at Ty’s apartment to collect him and Dave, I thought Sam and I were going to wet ourselves when we pulled up.

Dave jumped into the front with Vince our driver, Ty climbed in the back and proceeded to shove me over to the middle next to Sam as he climbed in. Vince started off by telling us all about the night he had some famous singer climb in the car. Said he wanted to know where to get the best kebab in town as his then-girlfriend had had him on a vegetarian diet and was craving a garlic infused feast of meat.

Vince didn’t disappoint apparently, the singer sent him tickets to the remaining concerts as a thank you. Although the cheeky bastard didn’t tell us who it was or where the place was either! Said he’d take us there on the way home if we booked him.

Next moment, we were pulling up out front of the brewery. I asked Vince for his details, so we could book him again, and taste the kebabs, I was intrigued now. “Hmm kebabs at 3 am after a night of drinking yeah,” they guys all agreed. We all thanked Vince, giving him five stars as a rating as we got out.

Laughing about Vince and his stories as we walked across the street when we were just about to walk into the brewery. Dave stopped and pointed across the street, Hey Jamie, isn’t that Mason’s car parked down the end of the carpark?

I looked over and yep, sure enough, it was.

“Oh crap… what a way to ruin a good night. Well, boy’s let’s grab a beer and annoy my brother.”

I pulled the door to the bar open, the smell of wood-fired pizza, beer filled my nose, with ‘Anyway by Rita Ora blasting away.’

Sam smiled, grabbing my hand and walked in, “this is going to be a fun, Jamie.”

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