Drew Forner settled down in his seat and gave a sigh. The latest court sessions had been time consuming and difficult, he was glad that the court was in recess for a time period. It gave him this opportunity, the kind of opportunity that he looked forward to every year with increasing joy. He was going to the Florida house!
It had been a treat for his Mom and Dad, though, after building it with such care —- his Dad had been an architect and did the planning and carrying out of the plans with both love and excitement —- they didn't live long enough to enjoy it very much. It had been part of what they'd settled on their "Drew" via their will, leaving him very well off and the absolutely proud possessor of the Florida beach house. That's where he was headed now. The phrase rattled around in his head over and over again and it never failed to get a smile from him. He got away there these days as often as he could, though not nearly as often as he wanted.
His enjoyable reverie was broken then by a voice saying: "Excuse us, we're in these two seats."
Drew looked up into the very blue eyes of a lovely lady and was struck immediately by a smiling face that was just opposite his own face. The lovely lady and the little girl, pretty little girl, were to be his seat mates, it seemed.
"Oh, excuse me," he said, and got up and moved out of their way, as they filed into their seats.
The lady went in first and the little girl, apparently content, sat in the middle seat.
"Is this okay, sweetie?" the woman asked.
"Yes, Grandma," the little girl said. "This is fine. I'm so excited!"
The lady smiled at that and said: "Yes, I'm excited too!"
It was then that the little girl turned to Drew Forner and said: "We're going to Florida, my Grandma Katherine and me!"
"How marvelous!" he said, "That's where I'm going too!"
"Is it a vacation for you?" the little girl continued and then, almost as an aside, she said: "I'm Amanda Fetter, and I'm traveling with my Grandma Katherine on the way to a Florida vacation: beaches and shells and all! Isn't it great?"
"Great!" he said, and held out his hand saying: "Hi, Amanda Fetter, I'm Andrew Forner, Drew to my friends."
The woman was looking on at all of this with a smile on her face. Then Amanda took it upon herself to broaden the circle of friendship a little bit.
"Mr Drew Forner, this is my Grandma Katherine, Katherine Griggs; Grandma, this is my friend Andrew Forner, but it's Drew to his friends."
"Then I guess it'll be 'Drew' to both you and me," the woman said, and shook Drew's hand.
They went through the routine then of getting to know the plane's safety exits and had the demonstration by the cabin attendants regarding oxygen masks and all.
"Exciting!" Amanda said and both her Grandma Katherine and Drew agreed. For the takeoff, Amanda clutched her Grandma Katherine's hand and grabbed onto Drew's hand also, holding his hand too.
When they were airborne, Amanda, very excited now, continued her conversation with him.
"My Grandma's a great cook!" Amanda said.
"Is she now?" he said, interested.
"Yes," Amanda continued, "She cooks in a fab restaurant. She's the big cheese there! That's what she tells me."
He laughed and, looking at Katherine, was joined by her in the laughter.
"What do you do?" Amanda asked him.
"I'm a judge," he said.
"Really?" Amanda asked, "Like in a court sentencing people to hang and all?"
This got another round of laughs from the grownups but Drew hastened to say that he wasn't a 'hanging judge at all'.
"It's other kinds of cases that I hear," he said.
"That's so cool," Amanda said and turning to her Grandma, she went on: "Did you hear that, Grandma, Drew is a judge but he doesn't sentence people to hang."
"I'm certainly glad about that," the woman said.
At this point in his life, Drew Forner lived alone in a large house that had also been part of his Mom and Dad's endeavors. He was divorced, having had a wife who had developed some psychological problems over the years and began to 'act out'. It had been her desire to have the divorce, she'd said at the time, to be free and not have to worry about 'the judge' anymore.
It had taken Andrew a good long time to get over the betrayals involved, the acting out, the infidelities: all of it. But now at a very comfortable 53, he was living a kind of life that he really liked. He was constantly thrilled by having been selected for the court and enjoyed his professional life immensely. He tempered that with his junkets to Florida to go to the beach house and it was all a treat.
For her part, Katherine Griggs was a widow, and it had been, to a large extent, her lovely granddaughter Amanda who helped her come out of the grim kind of life that she'd led, after the death of her Matt.
The current trip to Florida was a wish that Amanda had mentioned any number of times and it was a treat for Amanda's birthday. They'd go and find a place to stay, most likely a motel, and would be beach bums for a week or so. That was the plan.
Katherine was looking forward to it. Her daughter, Wendy, had made it a point to go shopping with her to pick out new bathing suits, and constantly assured her Mom that she was, at 50, a stunning woman. Katherine normally scoffed at that kind of talk but it was simply the truth.
As a matter of fact, given the chance to speak up with his opinion, Drew Forner would have certainly agreed with Wendy.
"So, this is a vacation for you from the court?" Amanda asked Drew then.
"Yes, it is; I give myself the chance to take a vacation like this as often as I can. It's just a real treat."
"Where do you stay?" Amanda asked next.
It was at that point that her Grandma Katherine intervened telling Amanda to not be nosy.
"I don't mind at all," Drew said, smiling at the lovely woman, "Amanda and I are just being friends."
"I have a beach house that I use for my Florida vacations," he said.
"Oh!" Amanda said, her face enwreathed in a smile to show how excited she was by this bit of news. "That's so cool!"
"Yes, it is," he said, "Very cool."
"My Grandma says that we'll find a place, when we get to Florida. We're going to go to a motel and travel to the beach. That'll be nice and exciting."
It was precisely then that the cabin attendant came around with drinks and bags of peanuts. The cabin service then kind of set their conversation aside, since Amanda got involved in the great fact that she'd be served something to drink on a plane now.
It made Drew chuckle, and Katherine flashed him a smile.
Once the cabin service was done, Amanda spoke up: "Grandma, will you take me and show me where the bathroom is, please?"
"Of course, sweetie," Katherine said.
They excused themselves and Drew got up to let them out to go down the aisle.
When they came back, Amanda asked, before they were seated: "Grandma, can I have the window seat for a bit and look out the window?"
"Yes," Katherine answered pleasantly.
Amanda went into the row first and was busy then with her face toward the window.
"She's lovely!" Drew said softly to Katherine.
"Thank you," Katherine replied, "Sorry that she's been talking your ear off."
"Yes, but she's so genuine and such a treat to deal with," he replied.
"Different than those that normally appear in front of the bench!" Katherine said with a grin.
"I guess!" he said.
"So, you make this trip often?" she wanted to know.
"Yes, I do," he said. "I love the beach house and enjoy Florida so much. Not ready yet to throw it all over and move there. This is a frequent trip for me. It gets easier after a while."
"It must," she said.
"I have someone who takes care of the beach house. He'll have it ready for me. He will deliver my car to the airport lot and I can pick it up there. It works for us very well," he explained.
"My, my that is impressive," she said.
"So where on the coast are you headed?" he wanted to know.
"Friends of mine have recommended the town of Sandhurst. It's supposed to have marvelous beaches."
He laughed, and quickly held up a hand and said: "Sorry for my outburst but that's where my beach house is located."
She gave him a smile and said: "Extraordinary!"
"Are there many quality motels there?" she wanted to know.
"Yes, a number of them," he replied, "Though it might be busy now, vacation time and all."
"Yes, I'm aware of that," she said, "We put this little junket together so quickly that I didn't have time to research a motel for us. I have my fingers crossed."
He thought just a little and said: "When my Mom and Dad had the beach house built, they had an apartment added. It shares the same front toward the beach but is totally private. Up until about a half year ago, the guy who takes care of the place lived there but he moved out to live with a girlfriend in town, and then he married her. So that it's now empty. If you don't find anything, please give me a call. Here's my card with the phone number, my cell number, on it. I'd be happy to let you use it."
"Why, how nice," she said, "Do you mind if I ask 'how much'?"
"Are you kidding?" he said, laughing, "Charge the Grandma of my good friend Amanda Fetter for using the beach house apartment, I don't think so!"
He grinned as he said that and she smiled back at him.
"Thank you for the offer," she said, "We might just take you up on it."
"Will do away with the problem of traveling to the beach and back and parking," he said.
.... There is more of this story ...