(Catch up, here)
"Reality television?" I say in complete disbelief.
Junebug leans over to me and says, "It's real life on TV."
"I know what it is," I snap. "It's sacrilegious! What were you lot thinkin'? I'm gone and you all run what I built into the ground."
"There's nothing religious about this," Barrett says calmly.
"Of course there is! Every business has a religion. It's called money," I say.
"Here's the zinger then, this is the biggest altar to our religion." Barrett laughs.
"Grampy, you seriously can't be considering this," Junebug says with a frown.
"Yeah, Gramps. The Organization wasn't designed for this kind of move," Jack says.
"This is the direction we want to go, Abel," Barrett says. "And we don't want to do it without you. We can't do it without you."
"What are you sayin'?"
"If you're onboard, then this is the direction we're going. None of that other petty criminal, stuff," Barrett says.
"Uh," I hold up a finger to interrupt. "Murder isn't exactly considered petty."
Dick shoots me a look that could curdle milk and I sit back in my seat.
"Bottom line, Abel," Barrett says, "the business decision is still yours. You join us, we go a new direction. You don't, the organization stays the way it's always been. What'll it be?"
* * *
"Can you believe it's been a year already?" Jack asks.
I grunt my answer.
"Oh, get off it, old man," he says with a smile. "You're enjoying this and you know it."
I grunt again but crack a small smile. "And you're enjoyin' being second in command of America's newest and most lucrative television station."
"Hey, I went to school for this, remember? Running a legitimate business is what I paid fifty grand and four years of my life to do." He flips through my schedule. "Lunch meeting at two with that producer from ABC. He has an idea he wants to pitch to you."
"He's being very tight-lipped about the whole thing, but the word on the street is a reality dating show."
"Been done before."
"Maybe he has a new twist," Jack says.
"Maybe," I say back.
"I need both of your guys' honest opinions," a new voice says.
Junebug's standin' in the doorway of my office, holding up two swatches of fabric. One a pale green the other a dusty blue. "Which one is a better shade for the nursery?" Her belly sticks out about a mile underneath her maternity dress.
"We can only make a legitimate decision if we know the gender of the rugrat," I say.
"Nice try, Grampy, you know Barrett and I are keeping that a secret." She smiles at me, hands on her hips.
Me—I think for the thousandth time—a great grampy. I smile.
It wasn't long after that whole fiasco last year that Barrett and Junebug tied the knot. Somethin' about a spark and "when-you-know-you-know" garbage. Then, not long after that, they found out they were addin' to the family.
I let them lead by example, asked Ruthy to be my wife. Took me a few decades, but I finally got it right.
Turns out, sayin' yes to the organization was the best decision I ever coulda made.