Chapter 45: Kind of Blue

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From the moment he walked in the door, Jesse had eleven-and-a-half minutes to shower and change for the wedding. He played back a message on speaker from Wynter while searching his closet for a shirt—she'd called while he was on the freeway. The Clockwork Toys had given their first performance that morning, at the retirement home. His mood lifted at the excitement in her voice.

They were dancing, Jesse! The staff, too. They made us play I Want To Hold Your Hand four times. We had so much fun, even Hunter. I love that the old people loved it. We served them morning tea and they gave us handmade thank you cards. I met a lady, Doris, who was at the Seattle World Fair. Her husband Donald proposed to her exactly fifty-one years ago today at the NASA pavilion and they got married three months later at Cape Carnival...

Jesse winced, dried off his hair, and buttoned his shirt.

...and then he died in Vietnam and she never remarried. Very tragic. I wish you'd been there to see the Clockwork Toys. Caleb sent me a good luck text earlier this morning. You forgot, by the way. That's okay. Oh, and Doris says I have to watch a movie called The Right Stuff about the space program, because Donald tried to get into astronaut training. Have a nice wedding!

The message ended and Jesse wondered if she was picking up his habit of rambling, or if it was just nervous energy after her first performance. He texted her as he walked through to the front of the house, figuring she'd be back at Rosa's by now.

> It's Cape Canaveral

>> What is?

> Never mind. Glad it went well. Will you get an A for the class?

>> It wasn't for credit

> You should get credit. You had to perform AND serve tea.
> And I'm sorry I didn't wish you luck, but as you know I don't believe in luck
> Also, you didn't need it
> Also, you've made $60 so far from your totally legal scam
> It'll take me a few days to cash it
> I'll mail it to you
> Wyn?

>> I'm here, checking email. Looks like I have another $15 coming through soon.

Yet more money he must take responsibility for.

> This is all highly suspicious

>> Send me live updates of the wedding. I've never been to a real one.

> Get back to your study

Jesse grabbed the wrapped four-slice toaster from the dining room table and struggled to shove the box into his backpack, which he'd emptied out when he got home. With only a minor scrape to the gift wrap, he made it fit. He was on his bike and halfway down the street before remembering he'd forgotten Indio's gift. He went back for it.

# # #

In a dress shirt and waistcoat, Harry milled about his future mother-in-law's house as if he was overseeing something. He wasn't doing a damn thing, of course, but Jesse knew how he liked to look busy and in charge. Jesse set the gifts on the growing pile in the front room, which attracted Harry's attention—he picked out the one from Indio.

"He mailed that to me," Jesse explained. "He has a gig tonight. Couldn't get out of it, so..."

Why on earth was he making excuses for his lame brother?

"Just for me, huh?" Harry said, bemused. He pointed to the tag. Indio had only put Harry's name on it, which Jesse hadn't considered significant until now.

"Maybe he's gonna send you and Charmaine a steam mop later."

"A what?"

"It's on the registry list."

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