"Hey Joe, I just hired a kid that looks just like you. Younger, of course, but your spitting image. I didn't know you had any family. You didn't spread your seed around about nineteen years ago, did you?"
"Nope, never happen, Pete. What's the kid's name and where is he from?"
"John Midden, and he comes from upstate near Bright Springs."
"Do you have a next of kin listed in his records?"
"Mother, a Mrs. Jonathan Midden. According to what he says, he also has a sister who is a couple of years younger than he is. I almost turned the kid down for the job because he is so young, but he begged me for a chance. The vehicle he was tested on wouldn't start. He had it running in ten minutes. He made some adjustments in the next fifteen. I put it on the computer. The car runs like a top and everything checks out. I'm going to keep him on even if he does look like you."
"Okay. Your business anyway who you hire. I hope he works out for us."
My name is Joe Ambles and I am the son in Ambles and Son, Auto Repair. I own a string of four automotive shops. My father, Joe Senior, is retired and has been for five years. Before that we were partners for ten years and before becoming a partner, I was learning the business. Three of the four repair shops are totally my new acquisitions since Pop turned the business over to me.
I am now through with expanding, as I have the city covered with a shop in all four quadrants. That was my goal and I reached it a year ago. Business is good and I am fast becoming a rich man. Nearing forty years of age, my next goal is to find me a wife.
I did have a wife many years ago named Stacy, but I was concentrating on learning the auto repair business and didn't pay enough attention to her. She was from money and couldn't see the sense of me being so work-oriented. Maybe the problem was her folks. They looked down on the boy/man who married their daughter. They made sure that my wife got invited to all of the do's uptown as they climbed the social ladder. She resisted at first, but I urged her to attend, not wanting her to have to spend time alone evenings while I was learning the business. That was a big mistake.
Before I knew it, those functions became more important to her than I was. When I tried to call a halt to her going out so much, I found it was too late. She had established a lifestyle and had a group of friends she wouldn't give up. We parted on terms that were not exactly amicable. I resented the fact that she couldn't see my side of the situation. After some contentious arguments, I was served. The divorce was arranged by her parents and I didn't even bother to attend any of the proceedings. They moved out of town shortly after the papers were signed.
We hadn't been married long enough to accumulate much in the way of material goods, and for signing off on the divorce, what was left came to me. Since the divorce, I have never had any contact with Stacy. I still live in the same apartment that we leased together, although I can now afford one much more lavish. That change is on my list of things to do sometime in the future.
Did I ever think back to the time and to the woman I married? Sometimes, but only to the fact I wondered how her life turned out. Was she glad that she had divorced me? Did I wish sometimes that her life had turned to crap? Sure, that would be normal, and I was about as normal as a person could be. Still, in odd moments I missed her, even after this long a time.
I left Ambles Auto Shop-Main and headed over to the Ambles Auto Shop-South, where this kid had been hired by Pete, the manager of this particular shop. Curiosity, I guess. I mean what guy can go and see a younger version of himself? On the way, I tried to fit any possibility of this kid into my past life. What if Stacy had been pregnant when we divorced? That would seem the most probable answer and would make me the father. Maybe I could find out by asking the kid what his mother's given name was--discreetly, of course.
Pete was all smiles when I entered the office. "I wondered how long it would take you to get over here. Stand by the window where you can see him. The kid is working on the red car in the third bay. I'll tell you Joe, that boy is a natural mechanic. I guess his father was into hot rods and taught him a lot.
"His old man left his mother for another woman, she thinks. He is pretty bitter about it. Not so much as how he treated the mother, but in how his father left him and his sister. The kid had plans to go on to trade school to become a mechanic, if not more. I don't know if it is necessary, he is that good. He is having to work and help support the family now. He told me all of this in confidence, so don't blow it for me."
"No I won't. God, he does look like me, doesn't he? Take me out to meet him. I have to have a closer look."
John looked up as we approached. The kid was neat and well-groomed. The shop coat he was wearing was cleaner than those worn by the other mechanics. He put the wrench down that he had in his hand, wiping it with a clean shop rag. "John, I'd like you to meet our boss. This is Joe Ambles and he owns this shop as well as some others. He started much like you are doing twenty years ago. Of course he had the advantage of working for his father. Still he is a first-rate mechanic--or was. Now he just runs around giving everyone orders."
"I'm pleased to meet you, Sir. I want to thank you for letting Pete hire me."
"Not my doing. My managers have full control over who they hire. The downside is they sometimes have to fire someone if they don't turn out well. Pete tells me you are doing fine. Welcome into our little world." I shook his hand and turned to Pete. "I have some figures I want to go over in the office." I turned back to John. "We'll be seeing each other off and on. Again, welcome." Pete and I went back to the office after I went down the line of cars being worked on. I knew everyone by name and I spoke to each as I came to them.
When we reached the office I said to Pete, "Give me what you have about where he lived before. His father and mother's names and their old address. I think I'll look deeper into the family. Maybe he is a cousin or nephew or something. I'll hit Pop and my uncles after I find out more. Maybe one of them jumped the fence."
"Lisa, this is Joe. How are you doing, cousin?"
"Fine Joe. You've never called during office hours before. Is this a friendly call or do you need my services?"
"I need your services."
"I don't have an operative available right now. Is it something you need immediately?"
"Nope. I wish you could handle it personally though. Nothing may come of what I want, but I want it kept as discreet as possible. You might even be involved slightly."
"Can I take you out to dinner tonight so I can tell you all about it?"
"Wow, this must be serious if you are springing for dinner."
We made a date. Lisa was my cousin. She was in law enforcement for awhile, but finally went to work as a private investigator. She married the owner of the agency and they were the top ones in the city.
After dinner we sat down and planned what I wanted her to do. "Lisa, Pete just hired a kid as a mechanic. He looks enough like me to be my son. His name is John Midden. There is a younger sister who I haven't seen and a mother named Mrs. Jonathan Midden--no given name. Their home address is over on Spruce Street and I don't think they have been in town very long. Originally they came from somewhere near Bright Springs, up in the northern part of the state."
"Why the interest? They say everyone has a double somewhere."
"You go into South Shop tomorrow. The kid has the third bay assigned to work in. When you see him, that will be the answer to that particular question. I guess I want to rule out that he isn't family and that is why I want him checked out. Take as long as necessary. I think I have given you enough to start with. The trouble is, this will be all the information I can get without asking questions myself."
"Okay, I can take a look at him tomorrow. It may be a week before I can start as we are pretty busy right now. Let's see, I'll spend two or three days finding out what I can here and then maybe a week tracing his background somewhere upstate. That's only if I think he looks enough like you so I can't shoot you down on this. I'll call you in three weeks for sure if I can get any information to give you. Anything else?"
"You might ask around as to what happened to Stacy. The thought came to me that she might have been pregnant when we divorced."
"You still carrying a torch for the bitch?"
"No, nothing like that." I understood Lisa's derogatory comment and sentiment. At the time I was courting Stacy, Lisa was more than half in love with me herself. Being cousins, it couldn't go anywhere and we knew that--but admittedly there was an attraction between us--still is. Lisa was perceptive enough to know that Stacy and I were too much different for the marriage to work back then. She saw it, where at the time I didn't. Man has to learn from his mistakes.
"Hah! I bet. You'd take her back in a minute if you found out this kid was yours by her."
"No. Think about it. There is no stretch that this John would turn away from the mother who raised him to a woman that discarded him. Right now the kid is helping support his mother. That's the woman who raised him. There must be a lot of love between them."
"I guess you are right. I'll get on things as soon as possible. You're buying dinner again in three weeks. Invite Matt too. He claims I'm out too much alone at night."
I heard from Lisa the next evening. "I went in and saw your son. Honest, Joe, he has to be. I'm starting on your case as soon as I can get a couple of things cleared up at the agency. I'll keep in touch. Love you, bye."
I didn't go near Ambles Repair Shop-South as often as I normally would. It was too upsetting thinking I might have sired a son about twenty years ago. Of course the chance that he wasn't, outweighed the possibility that he was.
Lisa called on the fourth day. "Joe, I saw the mother and the sister. They work in the mall on Maple Avenue. The girl looks nothing like either you or the boy and I got a real good look at the mother when I struck up a conversation with her at lunch time. She's a talker. I do know she is raven-haired and not blonde. She is still married, but not living with her husband. He left the family three years ago. I'll have to go farther back into their past to find out what happened. I suspect it was another woman. By the way, the mother's name is Annalee. I'll keep you posted. I'm heading north in the morning."
I surmised that it would be a week before I heard from Lisa again. Would she have information? She would have something, because she was good at what she did. I hoped what she came up with would answer all of my questions.
I still did not go often to Shop-South. I didn't want the boy to know I was showing any interest in him. My dealings with Pete, my manager, were done over the phone and if I needed to meet face-to-face, I called him into Ambles Repair Shop-Main.
I did meet the mother, Annalee, and it wasn't at my instigation. I was having a sandwich one noon at the mall when I noticed this woman staring intently at me from three tables away. There was a young woman with her and there was a family resemblance between the two. I ignored the women at the table when I went out.
I was back the next day. This time there was no hesitation. The two women came to my table before I had little more than sat down. "Sir, may I interrupt your lunch for a minute? You have been described to me and I think we have a common acquaintance. Do you know John Midden?"
"Yes, I know who he is. He works in one of my repair shops. How do you know him?"
"He is my son. My name is Annalee Midden. This is my daughter, Brenda. Would you join us at our table?"
"Umm, have you ordered yet?"
"No, not yet."
"Why don't you join me, then?"
"We couldn't impose."
"No imposition. Sit down, please. You know who I am if you are John's mother. I have only had a chance to speak to him once. Pete, my manager, is impressed with his automotive knowledge. It's unusual to find that much expertise in one so young. Tell me about him."
"John is intelligent. His father, Jonathan, was into building hot rods, but not very successfully and sometimes to the detriment of feeding and supporting us. He left me three years ago. John immediately signed up for auto shop as soon as he was eligible in high school. He received straight A's all the first year and actually helped the teacher his last year. He was hoping to go into automotive engineering. Not much chance of it now.
"I work as a clerk here in the mall. Brenda works part-time in a fast food place. Between us we make out pretty good. John is the only one earning good wages."
"You are divorced, I assume?"
"No I'm not. I am saving up money so I can get one and I'm half-way there."
"No chance of reconciliation?"
"No!" This was an explosive exclamation.
I had been observing this woman as we were speaking. I would say she was a year or two older than me. She was tall for a woman--maybe five-ten. She did have a pleasant face and was well proportioned. With her raven hair and with a better choice of clothes, she would be striking.
"What did you do before you moved here? I don't mean to pry. I'm just interested."
"That's okay. I worked as a receptionist, parts person, and did some estimating in an autobody shop. I was laid off and lost the discount that my husband used to buy car parts. That is when he decided to look for someone who had better prospects than me. Since that time I have worked wherever I could. Most often at minimum wage. Someone that worked for you years ago was a friend of the teacher in John's class, and he told John about your shop down here. John came up and was hired. Brenda and I followed."
"And why did you feel free to approach me today?"
Annalee's face got red and she paused before answering. "John described his big boss as someone that looked remarkably like him. He was puzzling over how that could be. When I saw you yesterday, I just took a chance because you do look so much alike. John has known that he was adopted as a week-old baby. Are you John's father?"
"I don't think so. I was married years ago and divorced, but if my wife was pregnant at the time, I didn't know it. Do you know the name of the birth mother?"
"No. That is something I have tried to find out and haven't been able to. John will have to do it and he can now that he is nineteen. Hopefully he can pick up her trail. You must have seen the resemblance between you and John. Hasn't it made you a little curious?"
"Yes, of course. Would you trust me to tell me what hospital John was born in? That might give me a start in finding my ex-wife so I can ask her if I have a child by her."
"Yes, only it wasn't a hospital. It was a doctor's home. The doctor has been dead for many years. I don't know if there are any records still available. I'm not sure there was even a birth certificate filed. Jonathan and I had trouble getting John a SSN. We had to find two people to give a deposition that there was a baby born at the doctor's home on a certain date before the government would issue a number. We have searched the county records and couldn't find anything. It is a mess."
"This sounds as if it could be a dead-end. John doesn't have much chance of finding his birth mother from any records that are available. I guess the problem should be attacked from another angle. Would he agree to have his DNA checked?"
"I think he would. I'll talk to him tonight. Look, Brenda and I both have jobs. We have to return to work. Will you be lunching here again?"
"Yes, I'll be here tomorrow." I stood and moved the chairs out for the two women. Brenda flushed, for she had never had a chair held for her before. Annalee just murmured a thank you. I watched as they wove their way between the other patrons. They paused at the entrance and looked back. I acknowledged that by a slight inclination of my head and a smile.
I sat back down and ordered another coffee. On impulse, I called Lisa's cell. "Hey Cousin, how is it going?"
"Not well. I can find records for Jonathan, Annalee and Brenda. I can find school records for John, but nothing before kindergarten."
"That's because there may not be any. Annalee approached me today and has just left me a few minutes ago. John is adopted just as we surmised. He was supposedly born in a doctor's home and his birth might not have been recorded. It has caused a lot of problems for the family. Look, the mother came to me and is being very open. I think I can find out most everything about the family that is known from her.
"Would you change direction and see if you can find where Stacy is located? Her parents must still be alive. That would be Harry and Amy Singleton. I think I am going to be able to get John's DNA. That would tell if he is related to me. To give John his birth mother we will have to find Stacy or her parents and make a DNA connection there as well."
"Wow, you're really moving on this aren't you? Is there anything else?"
"Yes. Check into Jonathan Midden and where he is located. He walked out on his wife and kids three years ago. This is just for my information and not to be shared. Someone from his home town must know where he is. Annalee might know, but that wouldn't be anything she would think was my business. She is still married to the man. She is looking to divorce him and has some money saved for that purpose."
"Give or lend her the money. Then you both would be divorced and free to start a relationship."
"No, I'm not going to become involved in a woman's divorce. I'm not saying that if and when she is free, I might ask her for a date."
"Smart move Cousin. I was just trying to determine if you had lost all of your marbles yet."
"Lisa, I really appreciate you doing this for me. I dropped a check in your office this morning. Matt was there and objected, but I really do want to keep this on a business level. Of course, if John turns out to be my son, that would make him your second cousin and I'll want a rebate. Call me when you have something. Love you, bye."
I had a lot to think about tonight. If John was my son--and I had convinced myself that he must be, what was my duty to him, if any. I tossed and turned most of the night. In the morning, I was useless at work and I finally just went for a three hour drive outside the city through the countryside.
I was early to lunch. I stood as Annalee and Brenda came toward my table. I seated both and sat opposite. "Joe, you look like hell. What is the matter? Not sleeping well?"
"You could say that. The biggest problem is, if I find out that John is my son, I don't know what my responsibility to him is."
"Joe, we have kind of pushed ourselves onto you. John is just thankful to have what he calls a great job at his age. If it turns out you were the sperm donor, he will be happy to know that. He will not make any demands on you whatsoever. That said, I have two samples of his DNA with me. I also have a swab to take two of yours. I think we should send the samples to two different laboratories. I have the addresses with me. You pay for one and I will pay for the other."
"No, please let me pay. Now, I don't know much about DNA, but I might have a sample of my ex-wife's baby hair. Whether it would be any good, I don't know. The hair must be nearly thirty-eight years old. Stacy would be forty next week and she said it was a sample that her mother put in this locket when she was two years old."
"Is that your age--thirty-nine?"
"No, I'm a year younger."
"That makes you a year younger than me."
I smiled broadly. "Remember, I didn't ask your age. I was curious though."
"I suspected you might be and too much of a gentleman to ask. You gave me the perfect lead-in so I could tell you."
It was silent around the table until Brenda spoke. "Why don't you take Mr. Ambles' DNA sample, Mom, and may we have a little of your ex-wife's hair? That way my brother would know both of his biological parents."
"Of course. It was my intent to divide it. Remember I'm involved. If Stacy is his mother, then I have an issue with her for not letting me know I fathered a son." Annalee reached across the table and swabbed inside my mouth. She deposited one into a glassine envelope, putting it on the table. She handed me an envelope and took another sample for my test. Then we divided the hair from the locket and put this into envelopes. Last, she removed the swabs that she had taken from John and gave me one.
She had forms that we filled out. I questioned, "Where did you get these?"
"I went to the library last evening and downloaded them from the Internet. Both labs had the forms online. It is advised that we send the samples and the forms by registered mail. The answers will come back to us the same way. One lab says it will be three weeks and the other only two."
"How do we pay?"
"We can send a check or a money order. If we send a check they won't start processing until it clears. I'm sending a money order."
"I will do that then. How costly is it?" Annalee gave me the figures. "You are going to be using your divorce money to pay aren't you?"
"Yes, but I feel this is more important."
"I think you should let me pick up the cost. I'll tell you why. What you find out about John's parentage isn't going to change anything one way or another for you. You two will still be his loving mother and sister. With me, this may be a life changing moment on a couple of fronts. Please let me do this."
It was Brenda who answered. "He is right, Mom. If you use your divorce money, you will just have to start over saving. The way Dad has treated all of us, you need to divorce him as soon as possible so you can start over and find some happiness."
"Brenda is very bitter. John feels the same. Jonathan was the one who insisted we adopt after only a year of trying to have a baby. Brenda came along naturally two years later. Then when John was sixteen, Jonathan stopped paying any attention to either. Brenda, up until that time, was his little princess. We found out within a couple of months after he left he was seeing another woman.
"The hot rod that John was helping his father with was in our garage and almost finished. One Saturday morning there was a car carrier backed up and was loading the hot rod. I questioned what was going on. He said since I was laid off and wasn't earning any money, he was selling it for what he could get. He went on to say that he was following the hot rod to get his money and would be home the next day. That is the last time I saw him.
"There was a letter that came three days later stating he wasn't coming back. He didn't apologize to me and there was no mention of good-bye to the children. From that day on, we have put him out of our lives." Tears were were in her eyes. Brenda was crying too. "These tears aren't for missing him, but for the injustice of how we were all treated by him."
"My heart goes out to you. I'm hoping your life will improve. In fact, if you need anything that I can help you with, would you let me know?"
"There is nothing right now I can think of. Picking up the tab for the lab tests is a real help as far as my financial situation is concerned. I thank you for that." We parted much as we always had, they leaving for their work and me having one more cup of coffee.
I didn't get to do lunch during the next week. I did send word of a sort to Annalee, by going by John's work station, telling him I had met his mother and sister and was terribly busy. It was ten days after our last meeting when I had a chance to make it to the familiar lunchroom. Brenda was there by herself. I was informed that Annalee had to cover for an absent co-worker.
"Mr. Ambles, we have missed having lunch with you. Mom was worried that you were avoiding us."
"No, not at all. I have four different places of business and I get tied up in details sometimes. Is your mother coming in for lunch later?"
"No, she is eating where she works. She will be sorry she missed you."
"Will she be here tomorrow? I have something I would like to discuss with her. This isn't about John, but about a position she might be interested in. More in her previous line of work and it would pay better than what she is earning now."
"I'm sure Mom would be interested. I will tell her."
"So, you are going to be a junior this year in school. Do you play sports?"
"Basketball. With my height it was inevitable in my last school. I imagine the competition will be greater here, but I do want to play. I certainly am going out for the team. I would like to earn a letter and maybe apply for a scholarship next year."
"That's planning ahead. I hope you make it. Brenda, there is a club here in the city that does a lot with young people. The ladies sponsor a father-daughter banquet. I am often asked to participate and stand in for a girl that has no father. If your mother approves, may I submit your name for consideration as you are of the right age. I realize you have a father, but he isn't available. It would give you a chance to meet girls your own age who you will be going to school with. Actually submitting your name is just a formality. My mother is the chairlady and that is why I get to go to these things."
"I don't know. I don't have anything to wear to something like that."
"Not to worry. I'll have a cousin take you in hand and get you outfitted. I took one of my nieces two years ago when her father was in the hospital with appendicitis. She'll tell you all about it. The banquet isn't for a month. It happens just before school starts."
"I'll talk to Mom. I hope she will let me."
Next day; "Joe, tell me about this thing you invited Brenda to. I don't know as I like that very much."
"Okay. First, my Mom is the ultimate do-gooder. She came up with this banquet a few years ago for girls fifteen to seventeen who don't have a father to take them out. I've been roped into it for the last five years. There are about fifty dads and the same number of girls chosen each year to attend. This is the first time I have invited a girl on my own, but I did get my mother's approval before I asked Brenda.
"My cousin Lisa is out of town at present and when she gets back, I'll have her get together with Brenda. I think she will be home next week which will give the two plenty of time to pick out a dress and do all of that woman stuff. You will be involved as well, as I'm sure you want Brenda to be at her best. I'll let you know as soon as I can.
"Now, did Brenda tell you that I might have found a position that will pay more than what you are earning now?"
"She mentioned it, but she is so excited about this other thing she didn't say much."
"The job is in an autobody shop doing estimating and ordering parts. The shop involves two lines. One is for repair of high-end autos that have collision damage and the other is repair of wrecks bought from insurance companies and reconstructed. It is a full service shop with frame straightening, wheel alignment and, of course, a paint shop.
"The owner called me yesterday asking if I had anyone working for me that was qualified to do this. His regular person had a heart attack and won't be returning. I thought of you. I gave him your name and he is expecting you tomorrow at eleven. If you aren't interested, this is his number. Call and cancel the appointment sometime before ten, if you decide not to apply."
"You don't know anything about me. Why would you give me this chance?"
"From talking with you--your husband, your son and you have been involved in the auto industry. You told me what you did, so I gave the man a name and it seems to be a fit. You have to get the job on your own and I haven't influenced him in any way. He has been in the business a long time and he will know before the interview is over how much you know about the business. All I can say is good luck. That is if you decide to apply."
"I will apply. Thank you." Annalee paused, then her face flushed and she stammered out a question. "Joe, I know I'm out of line, but do you have a woman in your life? I know you have been divorced for twenty years. You couldn't have gone that long without a relationship of some kind."
"You are right. I have a friend that I visit. She is older than I am and I have at different times proposed to her. She isn't interested in marriage due to family and religious constrictions. That said, when and if I find someone that accepts a proposal of marriage, I will discontinue any relationship with her, except that of friendship.
"The woman I propose to will have to tolerate this woman as my friend, knowing that we have been intimate in the past. I would like to think that my wife would become her friend as well, and thank her for keeping me free to be able to propose to the woman I choose when she finally appears."
"I can understand why people are attracted to you. You watch out for your friends and in return your friends watch out for you. That is so beautiful. Today Joe, it is my turn to pay the tab. I feel so rich when I am near you." Annalee abruptly stood up and made her way to the cashier. A coffee came on a tray after she went out. Must be Annalee was informed that is what I ordered when sitting alone after lunch.
I didn't hear from Annalee during the next day. I expected to. Was I being childish? I thought I should have notification on whether she was hired for the position. It was six-thirty that evening and I was feeling very put out. My door bell chimed. "Joe." Annalee stepped by me into my apartment. When I closed the door and turned to face her, she was in my arms hugging me. "Joe, I got the job and I have been working. I have earned a half week's pay today. I'm flying, I'm so excited."
She let me go and I had her sit in my living room to tell me about it. "I took the whole day off and went into the shop when they opened. I went into the office and was told I wasn't supposed to come in before eleven. I told the boss that I wanted to see if I could handle the job before I was interviewed at that time. He let me wander around observing the repairmen. There were several snafus that needed tending to.
"By ten, I was on the phone to a supplier working on straightening out a wrong parts order. It is being over-nighted and will be here in the morning. At eleven I presented myself to be interviewed. The owner handed me some estimation forms and a flatrate guide. He showed me a Volvo and a Cadillac. One had front end damage and the other had been sideswiped. I went so far as to demand the Volvo be raised with a sissors jack so I could look at the frame. I found it bent slightly and it would have been missed if I hadn't taken that step.
"In the afternoon I had the parts for both ordered, looked at the schedule he had posted for what was in the shop, and marked down when work would commence on each. The last thing the boss had me do was call the customers and tell them when they could expect their vehicles to be returned to them. That was my interview and I was paid for it. I guess you can tell I'm really excited."
She got up and paced around the room. This was the first time I had seen Annalee in anything other than conservative attire. The jeans she was wearing gave me a sense of what her figure was really like. "Joe, may I use your bathroom? I just haven't had time to go."
I pointed to where it was located. I decided this called for a little celebration. I asked through the door, "Wine or beer?"
"Beer! Us auto guys always drink beer. None of that light stuff either if you have it." I chuckled and waited for her to come out. She had changed her blouse into an autobody logoed tee. It was a size too small and she flushed, saying, "I guess this would fit Brenda better than me."
"Maybe, but I like it on you very much."
"This will be the last time I wear it, though."
I led her to the kitchen table where I had the beer poured into steins. "Have you called John and Brenda? They must be wondering where you are."
She shook her head that she hadn't. I pointed to the phone. "I'm at Joe's apartment. I came by to thank him. I got the job at the autobody shop. I'll be home in a little bit." She listened to something said. "No, I'll be home shortly. I'm having a beer with him and then I'll be home." She hung up.
"Joe, I'd like to become one of your friends. With the money I'll be earning, and as soon as I can find my husband, I'm going for a divorce. The minute it becomes final, I will feel I can start a new life."
"Yes, of course. Would you use my attorney? He will even wait to be paid."
"Yes I will. I'll talk it over with John and Brenda tonight. Oh, I'm finishing out the week at my present job and starting full time Monday at the autobody shop. I guess I had better leave. Would you come for dinner on Sunday? I know you have been hesitant to socialize with John because he works for you, but I want him to see what a great guy you are."
"I'll be there."
I had news for the Middens when I arrived for Sunday dinner. I just didn't know how to present it to them. My coffee after a meal--Annalee wanted me to know she remembered that. As I was drinking it, I said to Brenda, "Would you go out and get the registered letter that is on the seat in my truck. I haven't opened it yet and I think we should all do it together. I have been tempted to open it ever since I received it Friday afternoon."
We waited as Brenda did as I asked. I handed it to John. "This affects you the most. Would you do the honors?" There was no ripping or tearing. John used a pen knife to slit it along the top edge. He unfolded the piece of paper and scanned the whole sheet as we all waited.
Very seriously he looked at me. "I do believe, Joe, that according to the results here, you are my biological father." He burst into smiles. I stood and clasped him to me. I was speechless. John then handed the results to me.
Annalee and Brenda did not speak as this was between a son and his father. There was more. According to the diagnostics on the baby hair furnished, there was a positive match between the male subject and the female hair that was sent to be tested. This showed that the female was the biological parent of the male. To further verify this, a match was presented garnered from the DNA databank stating the hair belonged to one Stacy Singleton, married name, Ripton.
It was definite. Joe Ambles and Stacy Singleton Ambles had a child together. It was difficult for me to get my mind around. I sat silently contemplating this momentous event coming nineteen years after it happened. It would have remained unknown except for the coincidence of John hearing about a repair shop that might give him employment. He acted on it, which brought us together here today.
There were going to be many ramifications extending from this knowledge we had gathered. Did John want me to recognize him immediately? Was John going to demand that I do so? I waited for him to share his thoughts.
"Joe, I'm ecstatic that you are my biological father. However, I wish I could keep the name I'm living with for awhile. I don't mean to keep our relationship hidden as much as not making an issue out of it. I don't want to be known as the boss's son. I'm happy working as just plain John Midden."
"That's fine, with you still planning to work for awhile. However, I think to reach your full potential, you should go on to the university and study for a time. Then if you want to join me here in the business, it won't take you as long to learn to manage as it did me. I spent ten years before my father felt I was ready to take part just a small bit.
"That reminds me, you are now part of a very substantial family. Not only are your grandparents alive, but you have two great-uncles and one great-aunt. Almost a dozen cousins of all ages go with the family as well. We'll have to have a wingding and have you meet them. If you prefer you can meet them one on one over time. I'm not going to push you on this."
"Joe, am I going to lose my son? You aren't taking him away from me are you?" There was fear lurking in Annalee's eyes.
"No, I wouldn't do that. I'm hoping we can all get closer. With this much family, which I consider you a part of, you will be surprised how much fun we can all have. Brenda will come under our family umbrella seeing as she is John's sister. Life will get easier for you, I promise."
"With my new job that you set up for me, I don't see how it could get better."
"I didn't get that job for you. You did that on your own. Wait until I tell the family how you went about getting it. They'll respect you for it."
"I think maybe I would like to meet your father and mother first. I'll decide after that how to meet the rest of your family." I looked at John. He was thinking of what he had just said. "I mean, the rest of my new family." I was beginning to like how this kid thought. Oops, I mean how my new son thought. This was going to take a lot of getting used to.
After a bit, we were all uncomfortable. "I think I should run along and get used to the idea of this. I can do better when I'm alone. Don't misunderstand me, but it is a lot to think about. John, I feel I could turn handsprings. Can you understand that? You have had a father, but I have never had a son. It is a strange feeling, that is all."
"Sure Joe, I understand. I really am happy this has turned out the way it has. I've always known I was adopted. Now I know who my biological father is. I don't know as I feel the same about my birth mother even now when I know her name. I have a feeling that she didn't treat you right or me either, dumping me as soon as she could. It is a wonder she didn't abort me, but then I'll probably never meet her and that's okay. I love the mother I have, not some unknown person. I don't need more."
"It could be her religion. I do know she and her parents were against abortion."
"Still that is no excuse for dumping me."
"If you meet, you will have to ask her. It isn't necessary to meet now that you know she birthed you."
"It may be. Remember there is no record of my birth. That needs clearing up. She is apparently the only one who would know of any records."
"We will find her then." Annalee was feeling very left out. I wanted her to know she wasn't. I went to her as I was leaving. "Annalee, I want you to know I think you are a wonderful mother. You have done a superb job of raising John. I'm almost as proud of you as I am of him."