“Mr. Stuart writes every day, starting into the evening and frequently writing until very late or very early. He may request you to leave him alone, he may ask you to keep him company. He generally has quite a relaxed temperament, but when he writes he can be demanding or reclusive.”
Jeff simply nodded. He had been offered coffee and had accepted it, but it had tasted like muddy water when he drank it. He was sure that a high-profile law firm like this would offer excellent coffee, so he suspected that the foul taste in his mouth came from nerves.
Arthur Reed turned out to be a lot less faggy in person. He was not tall, but he was built like a football player, with a chinstrap beard, and what Jeff could tell were expensive shoes beneath an expensive suit. His handshake had been dry and Jeff had been surprised to notice a wedding band on the man's left hand while he paged through the paperwork on his desk.
“Your most basic job is simply to make his life easier. He may ask you to take notes or occasionally research something. This won't happen often, he likes to do his own research online, but the opportunity may arise.”
Jeff nodded again and tried to keep himself from grinning. Everything he'd been told so far sounded perfect, and now he was being told that the author might actually ask him, Jeffrey Karl Reynolds, for help. He could picture his name in the acknowledgements of the new Stuart book. “And to Jeff, for all his help in the little things.”
“Most often, you will simply maintain the house and property, including sanding and painting the deck this year, mowing the lawn, shopping for groceries, and periodically watching Mr. Stuart's children. He only has them for three weekends this summer, but when he writes, someone will need to keep an eye on them. They are a boy and girl, 14 and 12, Riley and Vanessa. I understand they are old enough to largely care for themselves, but they will generally be your responsibility.”
“Now, lets see, we have your identification on file now, what else is there...Oh, yes, of course. Tomorrow, when you begin, we will send the car for you again and it will take you to Mr. Stuart's residence. In the car will be a small box for you. Inside you will find a set of keys to the house and the car, a cell phone and a charger, and a credit card. The phone must be with you at all times and must always be charged. It also has the walkie talkie feature because cellular reception can be patchy at the Stuart residence. Is that clear?”
Jeff had barely heard anything after Reed mentioned keys. “Car?”
“Yes, you will have access to the family car, a Land Rover, I believe. This is mostly for running errands and transporting the children when necessary. You will not be expected to drive Mr. Stuart, he rarely leaves the property in the summer.”
“I see.” Holy shit, they were giving him a car for the summer as well. Not just any car, either, but a Land Rover. Malcolm would be so jealous.
“Mr. Stuart does have his own vehicle as well, but it should not be your concern. He is very particular about his own car.”
“And you said something about a credit card?”
“Yes. Of course you must keep all your receipts and either mail or fax them to us at the end of every week. The credit card is strictly for business expenses, not personal expenses. This is for buying groceries and any other incidentals that come up in your daily activities. If you call a plumber, for example, simply put it on the card and get a receipt.
“Now, room and board are, of course, included with the caretaker position. You will have a small suite in the basement of the house. This is not an accredited internship, so there is no need to track your hours. I understand from previous summers that other than company and errand running, Mr. Stuart is quite light with his work expectations. You should have plenty of time to yourself. You will also be paid $1000 a month. You will receive it at the beginning of each month, and because of the last-minute nature of the situation, you will receive the full amount for June for your inconvenience.”
Inconvenience? If he'd had it, Jeff would have given them $1000 a month for this position, in addition to buying all of Stuart's groceries and taking the writer's kids to Disneyland.
“You will be given the check after you fill out the final paperwork with my assisstant. Did you have any other questions?”
Jeff simply shook his head. He was already building a fantasy in his mind. Mowing the lawn in the hot sun, beers on the porch with Stuart (“Call me Vic,” he'd say), the writer's children would love him, Vic would get Jeff just like Professor Higgins had, he could even picture the three of them together, Higgins coming over for steaks one evening, the writer grilling and holding court, passing on his ideas and advice to other two men, one much younger, one much older, and then the day would come that Stuart would stumble across a scrap of Jeff's writing, just a small one, and he would see the gift that Jeff had and...
Jeff found himself shaking the lawyer's firm hand again and leaving the office. He signed the proffered paperwork, barely noticing the attractive assistant who could not have been much older than he.
As he exited the building and the driver attentively opened the limo door for him, he was thinking about how his life would change. All it took was one event for a life to change, and Jeff's had finally come along. Everything would be different after this. Absolutely everything. He couldn't wait for Malcolm to get home to brag about it. He'd have to call his mother, too, he hadn't even thought of her. She would be so proud, for once, able to see that he was finally on a trajectory to success.
Jeff's mind was so full of thoughts he did not remember that he had meant to ask the lawyer what had happened to Mac.