It has been an eventful month. Though I have to admit, the more it seems every month is eventful -- perhaps I just never noticed before. I can almost hear Liz laugh -- she's been telling me about things I haven't noticed, all the while she works out what she hasn't noticed. It's been good for her. And it's been good for me, I think.
More about the two of us later. There is much to be said.
Thanksgiving went very well, all things considered. My father and stepmother arrived, along with my stepmother's parents. The hotel suite arrangement was enjoyed by all. Liz did some cooking, as did my stepmother, but most of the food was catered and it was a joyous affair. My father was quiet through most of it, but he seemed to be enjoying himself -- he certainly was enjoying his grandchildren. Liz and my stepmother got along quite well -- Liz didn't get much of a chance to get to know Clarice before we moved. She's a good person, with a good head on her shoulders.
I think Liz appreciates a maternal figure with those qualities, right now. Certainly, it seems like a significant contrast -- and of course, there's been more bad news on that front. But I'm trying not to be too disorganized in this letter. Each event in its own time.
I had the Tuesday after the dinner off. I was sitting in my living room when my parents arrived. My step-grandparents had already gotten on the plane back East, but my father and Clarice were staying a few extra days. I'd know that he would come over. I'd known what he'd want to talk about, after the dinner was behind us. Liz, bless her, put a couple of whiskies over ice out, and then bundled Jamie and Francie up and went out with them and their grandmother.
Father sat back in one of our living room chairs. I sat across from him. In a lot of ways, it was like seeing him holding court in our living room, when I was a child. This time was different, though. This time I had a whiskey of my own, and he was in my home, not his. "I wanted to talk to you," he said.
"Caine Accounting has been looking to expand. We're a big fish in Milborough, but that's a pretty small pond. It's time to start moving up and out."
"I know," I said.
"Do you? So you know about our applications at RBC?"
"Yes," I said. I didn't tell him that it had ended up on my desk, routed there by someone who didn't piece together that Anthony Caine and Gavin Caine were related.
"Good!" he said. "That's good, Anthony. I was worried I'd have to bring you up to speed. Good show!" He took a swig off his Glen Breton. "What do you know about this 'Frank Day?'"
"He's my supervisor," I said. I didn't mention that he was Claire's father, having gotten Liz's mother pregnant.
"Well, he's being a problem," he said. "I need you to talk to him, Anthony. He says our business plan is out of order. He says that our loans are an unacceptable risk."
"Have you put in your plan at other banks?" I asked, trying to postpone the inevitable.
"Fah!" he said. "It's always the same. It's ridiculous, you know that? Absolutely ridiculous. I've been a very successful accountant longer than any of these punks have been alive. You would think they'd have some respect for what I've accomplished."
"Frank Day's about your age," I said.
"Frank Day's a problem," he said. "But you're there. I need you to talk to him. I need you to show him he's off base -- show him that Caine Accounting isn't only a good risk, but it's poised to take the nation by storm!"
I looked at my whisky.
"You should rework your plan," I said. "It's not 1979 any more. Each satellite office is costing four times what it should. You should improve your data infrastructure, then open smaller branches -- staff with a couple of junior auditors and use the internet to connect CAs or CMAs from the home office. You could expand operations at a fraction of the cost, and not expose yourself to the same level--"
"I know how to put together an Accountancy firm," Father snapped.
I sighed. "No you don't, father."
He stared at me.
"Father, you're still thinking in twentieth century terms. You've always been slow to modernize, and now it's a problem. It doesn't matter in Milborough because you've got long standing customers who are comfortable doing things your way. But the old school won't work when you're trying to break into a new market. Anyone who's comfortable with those practices already has an old--"
His eyes grew hard. "You've already talked with Frank Day, haven't you?"
"You agree with him, don't you?"
"You ungrateful punk! For decades I've been building a firm I could be proud of -- a firm that you could take over! But you always had excuses! You ran Gordon Mayes's businesses instead of working at mine! Then you ran off to Vancouver! And now -- now when I need you--"
"You don't need me," I said. "You never needed me."
"Is that what this is? Some petty bullshit takedown of your father, because I didn't play nice or go to some bloody play?"
"'No, father,'" he mocked. "You pathetic little worm -- I've overlooked your mealy mouthed--"
"That's enough," I said.
"I don't think it is, young man!"
I set my glass down, and stood up. "You're not going to sit in my living room and insult me, father. You're the one who can't face facts, not me. If you can't accept my professional judgment--"
"--then I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
He stared at me, before throwing his glass across the room. It shattered, whisky spreading over the wall. He pushed up and stormed out. "Don't ask for anything else," he growled.
I didn't follow him. I heard the door slam.
We haven't spoken since then. Clarice called from the airport to thank me and to try and mediate.
It's odd. Talking with Doctor Patterson on the phone -- I call him two or three times a week -- he almost snorted when I told him the story. "He doesn't know what he's missing," he said. It was odd -- not like him at all. Then he changed the subject.
Liz and I brought Françoise and James Allen trick or treating this past weekend. Françoise went as Drew Saturday -- she ran around with a plastic 'fire sword' and wore a white wig and orange and black coveralls. James Allen was content to wear a pumpkin costume in the stroller. Liz wore cat ears and whiskers and got me a top hat and tails. She was surprised I had a black bow tie, white shirt and black formal trousers to go with them -- she sometimes forgets I was a competitive ballroom dancer. Not all the clothes look like they belong on So You Think You Can Dance, you know. It was fun.
One odd thing. She asked me if we should gather up the 'cheap' candy and throw it out. I asked her why we would do that. "Doesn't everyone?" she asked.
I shrugged. "Most years, I let Francie keep the candy, after I check it for anything suspicious looking. So she overeats candy for a few days. Isn't that part of the point?"
She looked... perhaps it was the season, but 'haunted' is the best expression. "Yeah," she said. "Yeah it is."
Not long after that, we got a call. Her mother's apparently managed to get out of her facility and is at large. I promised Liz I'd follow up with the police so she wouldn't have to deal with it. She seems to appreciate that.
Things are better between us. No matter what happens with my father or her mother, things are better between us. We're even beginning to act like we may be married, instead of... well, whatever we were doing. That's hope, right?
Perhaps. More next month.