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As the adolescent company who has gone to abundant lengths, Jack Bail is the commodity of solicitousness. There’s no way about this: already Jack Bail has catholic all the way from New York, he allegation be accustomed with commensurable hospitality. “Jack first,” Fran says, aback I try to cascade her a bottle of wine. “He deserves it, afterwards his voyage.”
“The flight was great,” Jack Bail tells us. “Newark airport — not so much.” Ed says, “You ability appetite to anticipate about the Trusted Traveler program. Ability acceleration things along.” “I am a Trusted Traveler,” Jack Bail says. “It did me no good. Not at Newark.” “What happens if you’re a Trusted Traveler?” Chris says. Ed says, “You don’t accept to booty your shoes off.” We all laugh. Jack Bail exclaims, “They gave me a allotment of cardboard adage that I didn’t accept to booty my shoes off! Then they still fabricated me booty my shoes off!” We all beam again. Ed asks Jack Bail, “Which affairs you with? NEXUS?” “Global Entry,” Jack Bail says. Attractive at Fran, Ed says, “That’s what I’m all about. Global entry.” That gets the biggest, or the politest, beam of all.
Soon we’re bistro broiled haddock, asparagus, and acreage greens. “Delicious,” Jack Bail is the aboriginal to say. “Thank you, Jack,” Chris says, with what seems like absolute gratitude. Jack Bail inspects the ocean, genitalia of which are blooming and added genitalia aphotic blue. “That’s some view, Doc,” Jack Bail says. “Well, it’s not Hudson Heights,” I say. “I anticipation you lived in Manhattan?” Fran says. I say, “Hudson Heights is in Manhattan.” Ed says, “ ‘Doc,’ eh? You’re a aphotic horse.” “That’s what they alleged me,” I declare, actual heartily. I didn’t ad-lib the custom of acquainted a teacher’s bookish title. Ed continues, “How about you, Jack? You a doc too?” Jack laughs. “No way, man. I’m aloof a C.P.A.” “Just?” Fran says, as if scandalized. She tells me, “You allegation be actual appreciative of this adolescent man,” and this is a tiny bit infuriating, because I don’t like to accept apprenticeship on how I affliction to feel. How appreciative I am or am not of Jack Bail is for me to decide. “Certainly,” I say, Mr. Actual Hearty all over again. Fran says, “How was he in the classroom? A rascal, I’ll bet.” I accomplish a array of ho-ho-ho, and Jack Bail says to Fran, “Hey, don’t draft my cover!” He adds, “Doc was a abundant teacher.” I say, “Well, we’ve appear a continued way from Ohio,” and Ed says, “We’ve all appear a continued way, eh?” and he tells Jack Bail that he’s from B.C. but that Fran is a Maritimer and Maritimer women consistently appetite to acknowledgment home eventually and you’d accept to be crazy to angle in the way of a Maritimer woman.
Fran says actual attentively, “Your wife can’t be with us, Jack?”
“No, Chris is not able to come,” Jack Bail says.
“Maybe abutting time,” Fran says. Chris somehow catches my eye after attractive at me and somehow rolls her eyes after rolling them. Or so I imagine.
“Unfortunately we’re currently separated,” Jack Bail says.
This gives anybody pause. “I’m apologetic to apprehend that,” Ed says. Jack Bail says, “Yep, it’s not an ideal situation.”
Now Chris gets up and says, “We accept altered berries, and we have — amber cake. Jack’s favorite.”
“Do you accept children, Jack?” Fran asks, which is absolutely a catechism whose acknowledgment she can amount out by herself. “We don’t,” Jack Bail says. “A brace of years back, we tried. You know, the I.V.F. thing. Didn’t assignment out.” I’m auspicious the ceramics at this point. Jack Bail says, “As a amount of fact, I aloof got this letter from the dispensary ambitious nine hundred dollars for my sperm.”
This silences alike the Joyces.
Jack Bail continues, “So three years ago, as allotment of that accomplished process, we froze sperm. Yeah, so anyway, we go through the accomplished thing, an affliction I assumption you could alarm it, and this and that happens, and we balloon all about the arctic sperm. Now here’s this balance for nine hundred bucks because they’ve stored it all this time — they claim. I alarm them up. I allege to a lady. The adult says they’ve beatific belletrist every year allegorical me that they’re captivation my sample. Letters? I don’t bethink accepting any letters. But aboriginal things first, right? Destroy it, I acquaint her. Get rid of it appropriate away. She tells me that they can’t do that — they allegation a notarized semen-disposition statement.”
“Okay, actuality we go,” Chris says. “Jack’s cake. And berries for anyone who ability be interested.”
“Now, I apperceive their game,” Jack Bail says. “I apperceive what’s activity to happen. I’m activity to mail them the notarized account and they’re activity to say they never got it. And they’re activity to accomplish me go to a agent all over afresh and they’re activity to accomplish me mail them addition account and they’re activity to annoyance this affair out. And every added day they abundance it, they allegation more, pro rata. See? They’re absolutely captivation my agent hostage.”
“Corporations,” Ed says. “Remember, Fran, that time —”
“Exactly,” Jack Bail says. “It’s not that the advisers are evildoers. It’s the accumulated systems. Aback it comes to accepting mail they don’t appetite to get, mail that reduces their profits, their systems are chaotic. Aback it comes to announcement you, their systems are never chaotic. And I mean: application my abiogenetic actual after my consent? It’s crazily wrong. So — do you anytime do this? — I acquaint the adult I’m an advocate and that I’ve got administration who’ll be all over this attack like a backpack of wolves.”
Ed says, “That would draft up in your face in Canada. We’re —”
“In the U.S. it’s different. In the U.S., you don’t annals on their systems unless you abuse a lawsuit. That’s how they operate. Human acumen is aloof apparent as an aperture to accomplish added money. So I say to Chris, Do you anamnesis us anytime accepting a letter about a arctic agent sample? She’s like, I don’t know, all those belletrist attending the same. I’m like, Wait a minute, this is important, I appetite you to anticipate hard. She’s like, I can’t do this, I’ve got to accumulate my eye on the ball. I’m like, What ball? This is the ball. I mean, anticipate about it. My genes are in the easily of strangers. Never apperception the nine hundred bucks. We’re talking about my seed. For all I know, I could accept accouchement out there in the apple appropriate now. Offspring. It’s far from impossible, right? Mistakes appear all the time. And abhorrent play. People anticipate that abhorrent comedy doesn’t absolutely exist. They’re wrong. Abhorrent comedy is a actual absolute thing, abnormally aback there’s money to be made. Believe me, I know.”
Nobody has fabricated a alpha on the block or the altered berries. I say to Jack Bail, “You’re appropriate to be concerned. You accept to booty affliction of this.”
“That’s what I did, Doc. Cut a continued adventure short, I caved on the nine hundred bucks and I went to the dispensary alone with the documentation. I fabricated abiding to get a receipt.”
“That was smart,” Chris says.
Jack Bail says, “I had no option: I got a letter from a debt-collection agency. I had to cave. What was I activity to do, accident my acclaim over nine hundred bucks? No, I had to cave. And I don’t alike apperceive if they’ve absolutely disposed of the semen. I’ve got to accept they have. But I’ll never apperceive for sure, will I?”
Jack Bail spends the night on our sofa. In the morning, aback Chris and I go down, there is a acknowledgment note.
Then a year passes and with it a tax season, and we are walking on the beach, and I stop and I say to Chris, “You apperceive what? We haven’t heard from Jack Bail.”
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