Pressing send, Peggy sent her latest draft to her editor and felt the familiar separation anxiety. Elated that she had completed her manuscript, scared that it wouldn’t be liked or nobody would want to read it. After her husband Jeffery passed away almost 5 years ago Peggy had given up the travel agency that they had owned, it just seemed like it was too much work and just didn’t seem to be worth while with Jeffery gone.
She started writing travel articles and a couple of travel books. She was glad to find something that she loved that she could also make a living doing. Her grandmother had left her a small house in Idaho Springs Colorado, which she used as a “Home base” from her travels. Peggy remembered spending summers with her grandmother here when she was growing up. She had always loved the small town feel of the Idaho Springs with the closeness of the skiing and just a short drive to everything to do in Denver.
Sitting back in her desk chair, she missed Jeffery more at times like this. Had he been here they would have both gotten dressed to the nines and driven to Denver for a celebration. Looking at the clock she decided to rethink that idea. It just didn’t seem worth the effort of all that work to celebrate on her own. If she started now she wouldn’t be back until the wee hours of the morning. Working most of the day had left her emotionally spent, getting enough energy to do a really big night on the town was beyond her.
The grumbling in her stomach made her realize that even if she didn’t do the whole heels and hairdo thing she needed to make some kind of move for food. Checking the refrigerator and cabinet she was faced with the decision either go to the store and cook or go to Ron’s Place. Ron’s was a local hang out and she enjoyed going even if it was in jeans and a sweat shirt. Still running with the feeling of completing her latest project she decided a little celebration at the restaurant would be well warranted.
Walking into the restaurant she felt warm and welcome. Noticing that Todd was tending bar she walked up and shifted her slight frame onto the elevated bar stool. Seeing her struggle Todd made her feel even smaller by asking “Are you sure you are old enough to be in here young lady?” Todd’s greeting made Her smile, he liked her smile. Most everybody who came here was a friend. Being in Idaho Springs, most of the year around residence knew each other. Everybody knew that Ron’s restaurant/bar was a friendly place to be.
She enjoyed talking to Todd even indulging in a light flirting now and again. Laughing she answered back “Several times over! Are these things getting taller?” Seeing her struggle to get on the bar stool, he decided that he might just tease her a little. “Same as always, maybe you are getting shorter?” the laugh in his voice meant he knew Peggy would take it with good humor.
“I am feeling very tall this evening!” came a reply that sparkled with joy and enthusiasm. “I just sent off my latest project to the editors. I am here to celebrate! Open the Champagne! Make it a good year!”
Suddenly the light in Todd’s eyes became very thoughtful Not sure why he hadn’t thought of it before, She could help him. She was a writer and his professor said his writing style was too dry too technical. “Well, I am not sure about the Champagne. You may have to settle for beer.” as Todd wondered how to phrase the next question, he at least tied to make her feel better by saying “But I can put it in a fluted glass?”
“Fine, fine but make sure it is a good year!” Peggy didn’t seem to notice Todd chewing his bottom lip in deep contemplation. He was wondering how to ask, he didn’t like having to ask for help, but this was the most important thing in his life. Digging around in the store room he found a box containing special glassware. He thought that maybe if he joked with Peggy a little she might be more inclined to help him.
When he came back he had been as good as his word. “Golden, Colorado bottled 2015. Best in the house!” he set down a glass of beer in a Fluted glass.
Peggy gave a rather overly dramatic sigh. “Well if that is the best you can do” Lifting the class Peggy said “A toast to my latest project, I just hope someone wants to read it!” Giggling she lifted the glass to her lips and took a big gulp. “At least the bubbles don’t tickle my nose! Now for dinner – steak, yes, a steak a big thick one! I will have it here, so you can keep me company?” The last was a kind of question more than a statement.
He thought that the glass was the right touch. He liked to make Peggy smile. Todd looked around noticed that the place was fairly quiet. “I may just join you, if you don’t mind?” She didn’t notice the look in his eyes, but she did notice the smile. “I am glad of the company, I will even buy you a beer!” Peggy was glad now that she hadn’t gone into Denver for her celebration.
She and Todd had flirted off and on for a while. A couple of months ago when his boss Ron Shurtz had gotten married Peggy was Todd’s escort, you really couldn’t call it a date. They had both been invited and by going together they insured that they would have someone to dance with. Peggy liked Todd, but it just seemed that it never seemed to work out for the two of them. Either Peggy was busy traveling and writing or Todd was involved with his schooling.
Todd was studying at the Colorado School of Mines Bridge to the Doctorate program. To get his degree in Mining Engineering: With the ultimate goal of earning a PhD and entering the Professorship.
He had entered into military with a B.S. degree in geophysical engineering he got his Masters in the military but after 20 years, he had retired as Lieutenant Colonial in order to get his doctoral degree with out Having TDY’s send him to some far off country because someone thought they had found Painite – Worlds rarest mineral. Only after months of temporary duty to find that it was worthless rose quartz or having courses interrupted by military duties. He will become a civilian Professor of Mining Engineering.
Todd looked at her rather sheepishly. He decided that it was now or never. The Air Force wasn’t big on wimpy guys. He made his decision and now it was full steam ahead “Actually, I have a favor to ask you, so maybe I should be buying.” It was on the tip of her tongue to say something funny but once she got a look at Todd’s face she decided better of it, he seemed to be genuinely in need of something.
Peggy knew that while Todd wasn’t given to being serious about many things. His look spoke volumes! “OK, well do I need to eat first or is the favor that will spoil my appetite?” She wished she hadn’t been so flippant, Todd looked really upset.
He began to rethink his plan. “It has definitely spoiled mine.” Was something Peggy never thought she would have heard from Todd. He always seemed so happy and lighthearted. So what came next was somewhat of a shock to Peggy.
Still not sure about opening his academic life to her. “I failed a class.” It was a flat statement, that in its self was enough to grab her attention. She knew how much Todd’s school meant to him. He was working at the bar because it gave him scheduling freedom and a closeness to the school.
“I am sorry to hear that, is there someway I can help?” at this point a smile hovered around Todd’s eyes. “I am not cheating for you.” As the words came out of her mouth she wished she hadn’t said it.
OK, that is it I am not asking, was the immediate response in his brain to her even THINKING that he would be cheating.
Todd looked like she had just kicked his dog or run over his grandmother. “I would never even think of that!”
“OK, sorry I mentioned it.” Trying to put the smile back in his face she said. “so what is this favor that has you looking like you have lost your last friend.”
“Well, like I said I failed a class.” Looking like he still wasn’t sure about asking her, he continued on slowly. “I have to retake a class next term and I was hoping maybe you could help me.” Peggy was a little confused at this point.
“Of course I will do what ever I can, but I don’t know too much about science, rocks, do dad’s and such.” She knew that the courses he was taking were very technical. Thinking that he must be mistaken in who he was asking she asked.”what in the world could I help you with?” “Writing.” One word but it was spoken like it had the weight of the world behind it. “I have all the information, all the facts, all the important stuff.”
Now it was her turn to look like a kicked puppy. “To me writing is the important stuff!” If she didn’t know better she would have said he was blushing underneath his somewhat stubbly smile.
“Well, the school seems to think so too. I know that writing and presenting a thesis is hard but I have to pass the writing class in order to even start it.” He was running his hand through his hair and trying to look apologetic.
“OK, so what can I help you with?” Thinking he might be asking for help writing a paper or two his words rather took the wind out of her sails.
“I need a tutor. Nothing too elaborate, just help me write something someone would like to read.
The teacher tells me everything is too dry and technical.”
“Aren’t they suppose to be?” Peggy supposing that technical papers needed to be technical.
Peggy couldn’t help thinking that maybe someone from his school would be better suited. “Don’t you think that writing would be better taught by someone who understands what you are writing about?” “No, that is what I am trying to get away from. Too much technical stuff. I need something more interesting, more fluffy.” He looked like he felt he had just paid her a compliment.
“Great I have gone from unimportant to fluffy! Are you sure you really need MY help?” By this time the steaks were up and Todd went to get them from the kitchen. While he was gone Peggy sat pondered what he had asked, she still wasn’t sure she was the right person for the job he was talking about.
Todd came back to the bar with two big steaks and baked potatoes. He sat hers down and Peggy noticed that he had piled mushrooms on top of the steak. “MM MM Bribery by mushroom! This must be very important to you.” Peggy breathed in the smell of the dish in front of her.
“The most important thing in the world.” was his reply, as she looked into his eyes she could see that he meant it.
Seeing that it really did mean the world to him she started wondering how it might work. “So what are you thinking, time wise that is?” the words escaped just before a big fork full of mushrooms and steak made it into her mouth.
“I have two weeks before terms starts. I was hoping to get a little head start in that time and once terms starts, maybe 2 nights a week?” He could see that she was weakening and was hoping that the time demand wouldn’t be too much to ask. “I can pay for tutoring fees.” Not that he thought that would sway her one way or the other he just wanted her to know that he was serious about needing the help. Spending time with Peggy was just a bonus as far as Todd was concerned. He had always liked her but time was the one thing they never seemed to have enough of together. The silence that followed found both of them thinking just how this would work out.
“I am just not sure, I have a trip to Mexico next week and a couple of articles due in the meantime.” By this time Peggy knew she would be happy to help him but just working out the time would be a strain.
“OK, well how about if while you were gone we could communicate by computer?” This time it was his fork that ended the sentence. After a short silence of chewing and thinking he ventured “I know you have a really great computer and I have a laptop that will handle most anything.” Wondering why she hadn’t thought of it before Peggy answered in an almost shocked manner “Right, we don’t have to be in the same place. Why didn’t I think of it before?” “Food deprivation, and a shortage of beer.” was Todd’s analytical answer and he jumped up to refill her beer and wait on a couple that had just come in and sat at the bar.
When he sat once more at her side he asked “So it’s a deal? I have a budget of 40 dollars an hour for a tutor. Anything over that you will have to take out in steaks and beers!” She was glad to once again see him in good humor.
“Just steaks and beers? What else you got to trade?” Matching his flippant tone. She should have kept her mouth shut for the next thing out of his mouth shocked her almost as much as hearing