It felt sort of weird now with the employees only there two days a week, and only one or two of them at a time. The two days when Veronica was there, though, seemed much better. We got along so well together. I found every excuse I could to be in the little office with her. Our laughter was a sharp contrast to the somber faces that moped around the Adams house.
My family kept giving me dirty looks. "Look..." I burst out at dinner one night, as everyone just stared at their plates, poking their food around. I had decided to put an end to this.
"We're not sleeping together. We're just friends!" I burst out.
Everyone looked up. "Huh?" They'd obviously had other things on their minds. I was embarrassed. "Uh, Veronica and I..." I stammered.
They just shrugged.
"Dad, why don't you just call that agent tomorrow," Suzie finally said.
He did call the next day. We stood huddled around listening.
"That's right, Harry Strong, please...Yes, thank you...Mr. Strong, yes this is George Adams. Bill Davis sent you a manuscript of ours a few weeks ago...yes...Oh, yes I understand how busy you've been...It was called, 'JOHN, Your Name Is Famous' ...yes, George and Mary Adams, and our kids Michael, Richard, Susan and David...Yes, that was Mary Adams, my wi...Uh huh...uh, yes, she translates Chinese recipe books...yes, for the government...uh huh...OK, hold on, please."
Dad put his hand over the receiver. "He wants to talk to you, Mary," he shrugged.
Mom shrugged back and picked up the phone. "That's right. Yes, I've been translating for them for the past thirty years. Uh, huh. Well, I guess we could fly up to see you. Tomorrow? Uh...Oh, you'll wire the tickets...Sure, um, six tickets, that's right. Okay, great...We look forward to meeting you, too."
She hung up the phone with a quizzical look on her face. "He wants us to fly up to New York tomorrow...You guys want a break?"
When we were younger we used to go camping in Shenandoah National Park all the time. What more could a parent ask for than to have a vacation spot less than an hour from home. But my parents were so busy working all the time, we stopped going on vacations together when I was about 10.
It felt neat all flying to New York together. Especially now that it seemed we had something to hope about, again. When we got to our hotel, we were all pretty shocked. It was so fancy, like in the movies. We were really getting excited now. This Harry Strong guy must have really loved the book to spend what he must have spent to put us up for a few days in the Big Apple. And he hadn't even signed us up yet!
As soon as we walked into his office, he rushed us inside with a twenty-five foot smile and millions of teeth. He grabbed my mother's hand and shook it again and again. "I'm so happy to finally meet you, Mary!" he said with bubbling excitement. He gave the rest of us a half-nod and motioned for us to sit down in some chairs in the corner.
He pulled a nice, comfortable chair out for Mom, right next to his desk, and helped her slide in. Dad pulled his pretty-uncomfortable chair up closer.
"I can't tell you how surprised I was to hear you call," he laughed, not taking his eyes off of Mom. "You were at the top of my list to call. Honest!"
"About our book series..." Dad interrupted.
"Huh?" Strong snapped, taking his eyes off Mom for the first time. "Oh, yes. Series' are really rather difficult to place these days. But you've got a nice idea. I'm sure we shouldn't have too much difficulty finding a home for it...somewhere. My assistant, Monica, is working on it at this very moment. She'll keep you posted."
Our faces lit up with smiles, but Harry Strong soon got down to the real reason he had gone to all this trouble.
"Yes, as I was saying, you were at the top of my list to call. One of my clients is working on a very important new book. And you were the first one on his list that I needed to contact."
Mom fidgeted embarrassedly. "Oh, really?"
"Yes, you are familiar with Dr. Won Ton?"
"Let me guess, he invented wonton soup, right?" Suzie sneered.
"Don't be ridiculous!" we laughed.
"She's right!" Strong glared at us, then turned back all smiles to Mom. "How would you like to work on a recipe book with Dr. Won Ton? It would pay a LOT of money. I mean a REAL LOT! At least a six-figure advance. Maybe more..."
Mom looked really nervous, now. "Well, it would be a great honor," she squirmed, "but we're right in the middle of this Names project..."
"Oh, but it'll take a good couple months to get the series lined up somewhere. You don't have to work on any more books until everything's settled," Strong smiled.
"Actually, we've finished the first six books, and we've got ten more in various stages," Dad informed him.
"Well, see, you're way ahead of the game. Look, why don't you meet Dr. Won Ton. He's invited you all for an extended weekend at his estate on WonTon -- one of the smaller Hawaiian
Islands, near Maui. You can just relax and enjoy yourselves there. He's got a great place. You're not going to believe how wonderful it is. Talk with him and if you decide to work on it, great. This cookbook is going to be good! If you decide not to work on it with him, you'll have had a nice little vacation."
Mom looked at Dad.
"Look, I'll let you folks talk it over. I'll be back in a few minutes." Strong smiled and slithered out of the room.
"Well, George. It sounds like a lot of money."
"Uh, huh..." Dad wasn't convinced.
"Why don't you guys go," I volunteered from the peanut gallery.
"Yeah, we'll hold down the fort!" Mike added.
"You guys should enjoy yourselves, you deserve it!" Suzie and Davey chimed.
"Well, maybe it could be fun," Dad admitted.
Strong must have had his ear to the door, because he popped in just then and exclaimed, "So, it's all settled then."
"But we packed for New York, not Hawaii," Mom protested when Strong announced he'd already called and reserved tickets.
Strong smiled. He pressed a buzzer and his assistant brought in two overnight bags. "Monica's gotten some things for you," he beamed.
When he left the room they checked the bags. "Wow, this is fancy stuff!"
We saw them off at Kennedy Airport and watched them giggling like two carefree teenagers.
Us kids stayed in New York for another day, saw "CATS" on Broadway (I couldn't help thinking of Veronica and that first key-hole imagining), ate at some fancy restaurants, visited some clubs (Davey had to stay at the hotel at that point, under much protestation I might add), and had a really great time.
We didn't even think about the Names Books, Eagle Rock, or Mom and Dad even once. Little did we know that our poor parents had embarked on one of the most bizarre chapters in their life.