Thanks to the hip and knee doctor for editing assistance.
I hated flying, so my company allowed me to use my own car when I had to go out of town. They paid me mileage and it all sort of balanced out, except that I had to do my own driving. My wife, Karen, on the other hand, hated to drive. We both turned fifty this year and were both still working. Karen sold insurance policies for large construction projects. They were fairly complex and difficult to set up. I took care of commercial loans for housing development projects. This week I was in Charlotte and Karen was in Knoxville.
I finished up two days early. The last day I spent most of my time fantasizing about the Ocala National Forest. We had visited the area years ago when the kids were still young and I really enjoyed it. Our two daughters were both out of the house now, and had families of their own. Our empty nest house was too big, too expensive, and required too much upkeep. I have no idea why both of us kept working. I actually had grown to hate my job. I am not certain how Karen felt, but I wanted to discuss some alternatives with her.
I programmed the Knoxville Ramada Inn into the GPS and hit the road. I had time to kill and couldn’t think of a better way to do it than spending it with Karen. The trip gave me lots of time to think and plan. There were plenty of small cabins and lodges available for sale in and around the forest. We could rent a place in Ocala and take our time looking for the ideal retirement home. We could handle the move and the early retirement with no financial problems. The five hour drive to Knoxville would get me there just past normal supper time, so I decided to stop and grab a bite on the way.
One of the nice things about the area was the availability of Krystal hamburgers. I bought a whole bag of the little suckers and munched on them all the way to Knoxville.
I didn’t want to call her to let her know that I was coming because I figured she would be tied up in some meeting. She usually kept her cell turned off during the day anyway. Unfortunately, I hadn’t bothered to get her room number either. I had never felt that it would be necessary. I parked the car, grabbed my carry-on and entered the lobby. Before going to the counter, I noticed that there were two restaurants. It was a good possibility that she would be in one of them. The first was more of a snack bar and she wasn’t there. The next choice was fine dining and I found Karen sitting with Robert Wilson, her company Marketing Manager.
“Karen! Robert! Surprise.” It was a simple greeting, but I was really surprised at the reaction I got from both my wife and her dining companion.
“John. What are you doing here?” I was expecting a warm welcome, but what I got was totally different. Robert Wilson seemed to be squirming in his seat and Karen was totally flustered. What the hell was going on?
“I finished up early, so I figured I’d pop over here, spend some time with you, and we could drive home together.”