Bruce Willis didn’t like waiting, much less waiting on a new client. He sat with his back to the wall in a lame, Polynesian themed restaurant at the bottom of the Milton Hotel. The place was dark and smoky and it reminded him of an old 70’s restaurant he had seen in a movie. The smoke wasn’t from cigarettes though, it was from the cedar fueled grills that gave the place a pleasant woody smell, like you’d get on a cold night camping by a warm fire. He was sure anything he ordered would have a burnt, cedar taste infused into the food.
He checked his watch. The client wasn’t late, but she wasn’t early either and that irked him. Bruce was always early. Too early it seemed. He would rather have been back…
His phone rang.
He looked over. His teenage daughter, Chloe, was trying to facetime him. Behind her name, he could see the blurred video image of her as she waited for him to pick up the phone.
The phone rang again. Bruce looked around. The client would probably be late anyway so he picked up the phone reluctantly.
“Hello,” Bruce said.
“Daddy!” Chloe said. “What you doing?”
“I’m waiting on a client,” he said.
“I bet you were there super early and you’re pissed he’s not there yet,” She laughed.
“What do you want, Chloe?”
“Can’t a daughter just call her dad for no reason?”
“Yes, a normal daughter can call her dad for no reason, but you never do that, do you?”
There was a long pause and Bruce noticed a woman seated near him had been listening and was giving him the “You are the worst dad ever” stare.
“I’m sorry,” Bruce said into the phone. “What’s up?”
“Never mind, I can tell you’re stressed. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“No, it’s ok, I’m sorry. Don’t go,” he said, waiting. “How are you?”
The smile returned to her face. “Well, I wanted to give you the good news first,” She said.
“Ok,” he said.
She stared at him, as if waiting. “What have you been telling me to do forever?”
“Stop doing drugs, stop drinking, stop…”
“No!” she scoffed. “The important stuff. Family.”
“I’m not following you,” he said.
“Daaaad. Dinesh and I have decided to move back home!”
“Dinesh?” he asked.
“Aren’t you excited?” she beamed.
“Who’s Dinesh?” he asked.
“My boyfriend,” she said, motioning off camera.
“For how long?” he started to say.
A figure appeared behind Chloe. “Hi Mr. Willis. Really excited to be coming home and getting to know you.”
The figure that was Dinesh was obviously high. He lost his balance while waving and fell out of frame.
“I’m switching to audio only,” Bruce said. He could hear Chloe protesting as he pressed the ‘Audio Only’ button. He put the phone to his ear.
“Can you hear me?” he said.
“Yes, Dad, why are you freaking?”
“I’m not freaking, I just don’t want to have a conversation with Dinesh right now.”
“But he’s my fiancé,” she said.
“How long you two been dating?” He asked. “How long you two known each other?”
“Dad. Calm down,” she said. “You’re always like this. I just called to tell you the good news and you always spoil it.”
“Good news, huh,” he said. “I’m guessing your mother kicked you out?”
“And now you need cash to get back to this coast?” he continued.
“I thought you would want me to come home,” she said softly.
“You’re always welcome,” he said. “You always have a place to stay at my house, you know that.”
“Then we can stay?” she said.
“We? No,” he said. “You? Yes. Dinesh can stay with his parents.”
“His parents are dead,” she said.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “What happened?”
“He got caught with two grams of coke and his parents wouldn’t bail him out, so he said they’re dead to him.”
“Jesus Marie,” he said. “You can stay, but I never want to meet Dinesh, you understand? If I catch him anywhere near my house, I will make him cry for his mommy and daddy.”
“Dad, c’mon. He’s not like that.”
“Anything else?” Bruce asked.
“We need money for air fare.” she said.
Bruce hung up the phone. With a slight tinge of panic he realized the client was standing beside the table.