Fast Lane

Willy Hanson (Volume 6)

Ralph Arnote

Forge Books

Fast Lane
1
"Jason, we have to talk." Amanda Granger spoke as she entered their bedroom. She found Jason finishing up packing for his early morning business trip. He was fussing with a couple of neckties, holding them under the bright light of a lamp.
"Damn! Lately it seems that I can't wear a necktie twice. They seem to be a magnet for specks of God knows what." He tossed the ties onto a chair in disgust and then turned to make a new selection from a rack that must have held at least a hundred ties.
Amanda's eyes narrowed. Jason's lack of warmth puzzled her. Something had changed over the past few months. Whatever it was, he wasn't sharing it with her. "Let me help you, Jason," offered Amanda, not wanting him to get any more upset.
"I can manage quite nicely, Amanda. How about doing something useful, like pouring me a brandy."
Amanda sighed, then sat on the edge of a chair and watched him. He always seemed to get very uptight when preparing for a business trip. "Jason, we have to talk," sherepeated, sober-faced. Her wide-set brown eyes fixed on his new selection of ties.
"So, damn it, talk. You talk and I'll listen. If you don't mind, I want all this packing done so that I can hop right out of bed and head for Columbus in the morning. Every minute is valuable. You know how I feel about trip preparation, Amanda."
"You make it difficult to talk, Jason. It didn't used to be like this." She persisted: "I'll wait until you've finished. I want your full attention."
Now it was Jason's turn to sigh heavily. He sat on the edge of the bed and stared at her in mock attention. "Okay, shoot. What is so important that won't wait until I get back?"
"You are going to be a father, Jason." She broke into a smile and waited for his reaction, hoping for him to mirror her own feelings of elation.
"How do you know that?" The question came without any detectable hint of feeling at all. It was as if she had told him the pot roast was overcooked.
Amanda avoided his fixed stare and looked down at the carpet. Maybe she had misjudged him, she thought, and decided to brave her way through the conversation. "I've been feeling ... just a little different lately. So I went to Dr. Wilson today, and he confirmed that I was pregnant." She lifted her eyes to again meet his. "Oh, Jason, isn't it wonderful?"
Jason broke his gaze, stood up and walked to the window. He stared for a moment out into the darkness. "So what are you going to do about it?" he asked, still not looking at her.
"Do about it? Jason, I said we were going to have a baby. What on earth do you mean?"
"Relax, there is no need to get upset. I guess you rightfully think this is wonderful." He paused, nervously fidgeting with a necktie. "I just think we should think it through. I seem to remember that we agreed to wait five years for this, certainly until after I've got my promotion. New York, remember?"He hesitated before turning to face her. "It's just that we are awfully busy now, getting our life in order."
"Busy! Did you say busy? I can't believe this." She rose from the chair and walked over to face him. "Maybe you're busy, Jason, doing whatever it is you do day after day, and lately night after night. But I have nothing but time."
He looked past her, not meeting her eyes. "Only this morning you told me how busy you were. You are a full partner in our success, Amanda."
"The country club, the ladies' golf program, the charity drives, entertaining our ... your friends. That is what I'm busy at. It's secondary, Jason, all make-work to fill in the gaps." She felt a tear trail down her cheek. "My God, Jason, it all means nothing compared to the fact that we are going to be parents." She turned and moved toward the door, not believing that he would let her leave the room in her present mental state.
"We'll talk about it when I get back, Amanda. I have this gut feel that our having a child right now does not fit with the program. Think about it."
Amanda strode from their bedroom and dashed downstairs. She closed the door of the den behind her, sprawled on the couch and began to weep.
Copyright © 1998 by Ralph Arnote