The next morning Richard and Steven arrived at the ranch in time for breakfast as planned. Mr. Lester, Earl, Hank and I met them at the front door. After introductions Mr. Lester welcomed them and invited them into the ranch house. I took their coats and Richard and Steven were invited to make themselves at home in the living room. Hank and Earl made their way to the kitchen, where breakfast was cooking. Mr. Lester offered coffee and orange juice to them and went to the kitchen to retrieve the drinks. He returned to the living room with Richard’s coffee and Steven’s orange juice, excused himself and returned to the kitchen to help with breakfast preparations.
It seemed longer than a day since we parted company in Bishop to return home. It felt good to be with my new family again.
Steven was excited to tell me about the trip home. “Uncle Chris, I got to fly Uncle Richard’s airplane.”
“You did? I bet you flew it like a real pilot, didn’t you?”
Steven giggled and nodded.
Richard ruffled Steven’s hair. “If he keeps flying as well as he did yesterday he’s going to have his pilot’s license the day he turns sixteen.”
Steven sighed. “That is going to be forever from now. Can’t I fly before then?”
“There is no minimum age for you to start flight school but I think we better wait a few years so you can see over the instrument panel. In the meantime you can take over the controls and fly like you did yesterday. By the time you start flight school you’ll be way ahead of most students. How is that?”
“That would be great, Uncle Richard.”
Hank poked his head out of the kitchen and called to us. “Boys, breakfast is served. Come and get ‘em while they are hot.”
The right out of the coop- scrambled eggs, farm-fresh bacon, buttermilk pancakes, and Canadian maple syrup was delicious. The conversation over the breakfast table with Mr. Lester, Hank, Earl, Richard and Steven was lively, friendly and fun. Mr. Lester said Steven reminded him of his grandson, Brandon and that was good thing.
Steven asked if Brandon lived on the ranch.
Mr. Lester shook his head. “Brandon lives in Seattle with his parents. He likes the city life and gets a little bored at the ranch when he visits.”
The conversation continued throughout the meal until everyone was pleasantly full. Hank, Earl and I rounded up the dishes and cleaned the kitchen while Mr. Lester poured more coffee into Richard’s cup and chatted with them until the kitchen was clean. While they chatted Hank, Earl and I went to the stables to get everyone’s horses saddled and ready for the ranch tour. Mr. Lester, Richard and Steven made their way to the stables, where Mr. Lester mounted his horse. Hank and Earl introduced Richard and Steven to their horses. Since it was Steven’s first time on a horse, Mr. Lester stayed close to give him riding tips and make sure he didn’t fall off. Steven was a fast learner and had no trouble staying in the saddle. At first we rode around the ranch house, stables, barn and paddocks to get used to the horses. Soon Mr. Lester led our group of riders west, along a trail that went to the rear of the ranch, against the Sierra foothills to a pasture where a small herd of cattle was grazing. Steven was excited to be on a horse for the first time and to see the herd of cattle. We continued riding along the trail as it wound its way higher in the foothills to an overlook. From the overlook we could see the entire Washoe Valley. Mr. Lester pointed out several landmarks including Washoe Lake, Mount Bullion, which hid Virginia City from view, and Little Washoe Lake. From the overlook we rode east from the foothills and returned to the stables. The entire trip took nearly two hours. Steven and Richard were impressed with the ranch and had fun riding the horses. The six of us cooled down the horses and put the tack away. Mr. Lester, Hank and Earl excused themselves and went their own way.
Richard suggested we spend the rest of the day together. I didn’t need to be asked twice if I wanted to spend more time with Richard and Steven and I followed them home in my truck. By now I had learned to keep a small bag of a couple changes of clothes and toiletries in my truck, since I never knew when I’d be spending the night. It turned out it would come in handy that night. When we arrived at Richard’s home, it was lunchtime. We climbed in Richard’s CX-5 and drove to The Burger Alley to have cheeseburgers and fries. The burgers were huge and delicious and the fries were tasty with just the right crunch. We left the restaurant completely filled and satiated.
Richard suggested we drive to Idlewild Park to walk along the river trail and let Steven play on the playground equipment. Steven and I agreed and we drove the short distance to the park. When we arrived, there were three other boys about Steven’s age playing on the equipment. They quickly made friends with Steven and the four boys had fun climbing on the monkey bars, spinning on the little merry go round, and swinging on the swing sets while Richard and I watched from an adjacent picnic table.
It was our first time alone in days and it was a good time to talk with Richard about my father’s insurance settlement. “This is the first time we have had to ourselves in a while and there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you since we left Grandma’s.”
Richard gave me a serious expression. “Chris, is anything wrong?”
I shook my head. “ No, everything is fine, well, better than fine. While you and Steven were on your walk, Grandma talked to me about my family and she gave me a check. It turns out my dad had a life insurance policy and named my sister and me as the beneficiaries. Richard, I’ve never had money until now and I’m scared I may lose it.”
Richard was concerned. “Chris, if it’s a couple thousand dollars, we can deposit it into a savings account tomorrow morning and it will be safe.”
“Richard, it’s two million, seven hundred fifty thousand dollars.”
Richard was stunned and his face showed it. “Well, that changes things. I think we better had do more than open a savings account for you. Chris, this means, if you want, you never have to work for anyone ever again. If you like, I can introduce you to my estate planner and he can develop a portfolio that can provide you with a very good income while increasing your net worth.”
Richard always had good ideas and I trusted him implicitly. I agreed and he said he could call his good friend and financial planner, Bob DiAngelo Jr. to set up an appointment. I said that would be great and he called Bob right away. He took out his cell phone and dialed Bob DiAngelo Jr. He answered right away. After some pleasantries, Richard explained my situation to him. Bob was available to meet with me at 9:00 A.M. in the morning. After confirming the time with me, Richard made the appointment and wished Bob a great Sunday.
After ending the call Richard suggested I spend the night rather than drive all the way to the ranch just to return the next day. I agreed, took my cell phone out of my pocket and called Mr. Lester at the ranch to let him know I would be staying in Reno overnight and going to business appointments Monday. He thanked me for letting him know and told me Hank, Earl and he would take care of everything at the ranch. It was settled. I would once again stay overnight with my guys.
We continued to watch Steven playing with his new friends. After swinging on the swing set they played tag, chasing each other around as children do. I remembered when I was his age I rode my bicycle around the neighborhood every day. It was then I realized I didn’t know if Steven had a bicycle. I wondered if he ever did have one. I mentioned it to Richard.
Richard tilted his head thinking. “I don’t think Steven has ever mentioned anything about a bike. He didn’t have one when he came to stay with me.” Richard looked at the time on his phone. “If we leave soon, we can go to the warehouse store and buy him one. Better still, we could buy three of them and go on rides together.”
I smiled. “That would be fun. There are a lot of bike trails and paths in Reno. We could spend a long time exploring them.”
Richard called to Steven and waved him over. Steven came smiling and telling us of his fun time with his friends. We let him know we were happy to see him playing with the other kids and having fun.
Richard broached the subject. “Steven, did you have a bicycle when you were with your parents?”
Steven gave a sad expression and shook his head no. “Daddy said a bicycle was too dangerous and they couldn’t afford one.”
Richard was clearly miffed at his brother for not providing for Steven. “Do you know how to ride a bike?”
Steven nodded yes. “My friend, Ronnie taught me how to ride and I would ride his sometimes.”
Richard smiled. “Steven, how would you like it if we bought bikes so we could go riding?”
Steven beamed. “That would be cool, Uncle Richard. Can we really go buy some?”
“Sure, say goodbye to your friends and we’ll go shopping for them.”
Steven ran back to his friends, told them it was nice meeting and playing with them and ran back to us. We left the park, drove home and traded the CX-5 for my truck. Soon we were on our way to the warehouse store. We quickly found three mountain bikes that were perfect for us. Steven chose a metallic gold bike, I chose a royal blue bike, and Richard chose a metallic candy apple red bike. In addition to the bikes, we found helmets to keep us safe during our rides and cable locks to keep our bikes secure when we weren’t riding them. We loaded the bikes and accessories into the truck and drove home. We unloaded all three bikes, adjusted the seat height for each of us, checked to be sure all bolts were tight and checked the tire pressure. After loading the bikes back in the truck, it was a quick drive to the park, where we could catch the bike path that meandered along the river. We unloaded the bikes, put on our helmets and rode single file along the bike path. Steven giggled with elation. He was over the moon with his bike.
The new bikes were great. They were comfortable and the gearing was perfect for a leisurely ride. We travelled a few miles along the river bike path when Richard checked the time. “Guys, we have about 30 minutes before the sun sets behind the mountains. When it does, the temperature is going to drop. We should probably head back.”
Steven and I agreed. We made it back to the truck just as the sun dipped below the Sierra mountaintops. As Richard said, we could immediately feel a drop in temperature. We loaded the bikes into the truck and made our way back to the warm house. We unloaded the bikes and stored them in the garage, in back of Richard’s 1941 Ford Truck.
Steven stood looking at the truck. “Uncle Richard, when are you going to work on the Ford?”
Richard put his arm on Steven’s shoulders. “Steven, as a matter of fact, I ordered some truck parts from a restoration shop in Salt Lake City. On Tuesday Kyle, a pilot friend of mine, is going to fly me to Salt Lake City, where I’ll pick up the parts.”
Steven was inquisitive. “Oh good. When will you be home, Uncle Richard?”
“I’ll be home in the afternoon and we can have cheeseburgers for dinner, how is that?”
Steven grinned. “I’d like that.”
Richard hugged Steven. “Great, that’s the plan then.”
Steven looked confused. “Uncle Richard, why is Kyle flying you in his plane when you have your own plane to fly?”
Richard explained. “Kyle’s plane was in the shop to have the engine rebuilt and he wants to take it on a cross country flight to break it in properly. Do you know what that means?”
Steven nodded. “It’s making sure to be gentle with it so it doesn’t break.”
Richard hugged Steven. “You sure are a bright boy, do you know that?”
Steven giggled, thanked and hugged Richard. “After you get back with the truck parts can we work on it?”
Richard nodded. “We’ll pick a day when we’re not busy and we can do that, yes.”
“Good, I’ve been hoping we could do that soon.”
Richard locked the garage and we went into the house to change out of our biking clothes. We worked up quite a sweat on the bikes so we all took showers. After our showers we watched TV until our stomachs reminded us it was dinnertime. We decided Italian food sounded good and we went to Richard’s favorite Italian restaurant, Mama Angelina’s, for the best Italian food in Northern Nevada.
Mama Angelina’s was located in a small house built in the 1920s. It was converted to a business many years ago. The restaurant was located off one of the main streets in downtown Reno. The savory aroma of Italian cooking greeted us as soon as we walked into the restaurant.
Mama Angelina ran to Richard to give him a big hug and a kiss on his cheek. She spoke in broken Italian accented English. “You naughty boy, Richard. Why you be gone for so long? Maybe you no love your Mama Angelina anymore?”
Richard beamed. “Mama Angelina, who could not love you? Yes, I haven’t been in to see you and I’m bad for that. My life got very busy. Mama Angelina, this is my special friend, Chris and this cool little guy is my nephew, Steven. Guys, meet the sweetest Mama in all of Reno.”
Mama Angelina smiled at me with a twinkle in her eye and gave me a warm hug. “Oh, you’re a bit skinny but I think maybe you be just what Richard need in his life. I know Richard be very good to you and you be very good to him. Good for both of you.”
She looked at Steven with a sweet grandmotherly smile, bent over and gave him a warm hug and kiss on his cheek. Steven blushed and giggled, which made Mama Angelina’s smile ever bigger. “Oh, Richard, yes, I see Steven is an angelino bambino. He look a little like you. Oh, but you no come here to hear me talk. Come, we find you a nice table and maybe put some meat on your bones.”
She took us to an intimate booth in the corner, gave us menus and returned with waters, a basket of freshly baked bread with a bowl of olive oil having balsamic vinegar drizzled in it. She removed a book of matches from her pocket and lit the drip candle mounted on a wine bottle covered with various colors of wax at the back of the table. “You look at the menus all you like, but I have to tell you, Chef Johnny, he make his special lasagna today. Trust your Mama Angelina. It is the best I have since I was a little girl in Sicily.”
We were convinced with Mama Angelina’s recommendation and ordered lasagna for three. Mama Angelina guaranteed we would not be sorry. She returned to the kitchen and returned with three green salads coated with her homemade secret dressing. “Now you boys make sure to eat all of those salads. Mangiate!”
As we were finishing the last of our salads, Mama Angelina returned to our table replacing our empty salad plates with plates filled with chef Johnny’s lasagna. A soon as we took the first bites of lasagna we realized how right Mama Angelina was. It was the best lasagna any of us had ever tasted. The large portions were too much to eat and we had to ask Mama Angelina for to-go dishes.
“No wonder all you boys be so skinny. You no eat so much. As long as you no throw this wonderful food away, I give you to-go dishes.”
Mama Angelina brought our boxed food and placed the check on the table, saying we can pay anytime and stay as long as we like. We paid the bill, leaving a generous tip and gave loving hugs to Mama Angelina. She hugged each of us in return and told Steven to be a good angelino for his uncle. Steven promised her he would be good, we said our farewells, and drove home to spend a quiet evening watching a movie. We gave Steven the assignment of picking out a DVD to watch. He chose The Rocketeer. Richard made popcorn and we three cuddled together watching the adventure. During the airplane flying scenes at the beginning of the movie, Steven emulated Cliff Seacord’s movements as he maneuvered the plane around the racecourse. I had no doubt Steven is going to be a good pilot when he grows up. After the movie it was bedtime. After an active day, we all slept soundly that night.
The six o’clock alarm woke us after a long restful sleep. Richard woke up Steven, who hopped in his shower. While Richard and Steven were showering I sauntered to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee for Richard and a glass of orange juice for Steven. I made a cup of tea to drink after my shower. Richard finished his shower, dressed and greeted me in the kitchen with a loving hug and kiss. I handed him his coffee to drink while I showered. Steven walked out of his bathroom and greeted me with a big smile. I picked him up and gave him a tight hug.
While still being held by me, Steven put his hands on my cheeks and had a serious expression. “Uncle Chris, may I ask you something, please?”
“Steven, of course you may ask me anything you want.”
“Uncle Chris, I love you and Uncle Richard a lot and Madam Adabelle said we should be together as a family. I like having two uncles but I would love having two daddies even more. Would you and Uncle Richard please be my daddies?”
Tears formed in my eyes as I hugged Steven lovingly. “Steven I love you very much and I know Uncle Richard does too. I would love for that to happen. I promise to talk to Uncle Richard and we’ll see what we can do, okay?”
Steven beamed and nodded.
“Now you better get dressed and get downstairs for breakfast while I shower.”
He bounded off to his room to dress and I went in the shower. After the shower I had a surprise waiting for me in the kitchen. While I showered Richard and Steven worked together to make free-range scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash brown potatoes. Richard was putting my plate on the kitchen table as I walked in the kitchen. I gave both of my guys hugs and kisses before we sat and ate our delicious breakfast. Over breakfast Steven said he was excited to go to school. He worked hard on his math homework and was hoping to get a good grade on it. We asked him to let us know the grade he received. We made fast work of cleaning the kitchen after breakfast.
We were keeping track of the time by watching the kitchen clock. It was time to leave the house and get on with our busy day. We gave each other hugs and kisses. Richard drove Steven to school before going to his office and I left for my appointment with Bob DiAngelo.
I drove the Cadillac to the address Richard had given me for Bob DiAngelo’s office and pulled into the driveway. I immediately noticed a 1962 Chevrolet Impala and a 1961 Ford Thunderbird parked in front of the mid-century design office building. If it were alive, the 1962 Cadillac must have felt at home with the Impala and Thunderbird. Before entering the building I turned and looked at the three cars in the parking lot. Did I somehow just drive through a time portal? I walked into the office building, where Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs played from a radio located on top of a row of filing cabinets. A starburst clock hung on the wall over the filing cabinets. A tall split leaf philodendron and a large rubber tree were placed in pots in corners of the room.
On the receptionist’s desk was a modern computer screen and ironically, on the side table sat an IBM Selectric typewriter. A receptionist, a middle age lady with a brunette bouffant hairstyle sat behind a secretary’s desk in the reception area. She greeted me.
“Hello, I’m Chris Davis. I have an appointment with Mr. DiAngelo at 9:00 o’clock.”
She thanked me, pushed the button on a mid century era intercom in a wooden box at the end of her desk, and announced my arrival. She asked me to have a seat. I turned to see Danish modern style chairs and end tables so popular in the early 1960s. I sat in one of the chairs and picked up a copy of Life Magazine from the end table. If I didn’t step into a time portal, someone did a great job of staging this place like a 1960’s movie set.
A moment later Bob DiAngelo Jr., a dark-haired, middle age man wearing a business shirt, tie and slacks, looking like he stepped right out of 1963, walked into the reception area, over to me, introduced himself and shook my hand. I thought I would be able to easily guess who owned the Thunderbird and who owned the Impala.
To make me feel welcome, Bob asked if he could get me a cup of coffee and I politely declined. We went to his office, where we discussed my financial situation.
I gave Bob the particulars of my financial situation and explained the insurance settlement. He asked many questions until he was able to grasp the entirety of my finances and goals. By the end of the meeting I had agreed to a diverse and secure plan that he developed. The plan would immediately provide $100,000 cash from the insurance settlement. The remaining would go into various certificates of deposit, annuities, and other investments. I would have a six figure annual income. We set the plan in motion and by the end of the morning I had a working investment portfolio and after a trip to the bank I would have more than $100,000 in my checking account.
I retained Bob as my financial planner and thanked him for all of his expert help. At the end of the meeting we casually talked about cars and I asked him if the gold Impala was his. He smiled and nodded. He had inherited it from his Dad, Bob DiAngelo Sr., who bought it from a colleague when it was a year old. I told him about acquiring my Grandmother’s Cadillac and he suggested I join a local classic car club to which he belonged. He agreed to send me the information on the club. It sounded like a fun group. We shook hands and agreed to stay in touch.
I drove to my bank and deposited the check from the insurance company, and called Richard. I told him how the morning went and he suggested we meet for lunch. We met at a quiet café near his owned by a friend of his. Richard arrived at the restaurant before the noon rush and found a table near the window. I arrived and we hugged and kissed before sitting for lunch. My ice tea was on the table before I arrived. I thanked Richard for him being so considerate. The waitress took our order and dashed to the kitchen.
Richard wanted to know how the meeting with Bob DiAngelo went. I explained how Bob set me up with an investment portfolio and annual income of which I could only dream about before. Richard was impressed but not surprised at Bob’s talent and expertise.
Richard was deep in thought, going over my financial situation in his mind. “Chris, It seems Bob did a fine job setting you up so you would never have to work for anyone again unless you wanted. Have you given any thought as to what you would like to do now?”
I thought for a moment. “I’ve heard one does best what one loves to do. Working on the ranch is enjoyable but it isn’t something I have a passion for. Richard, we share one passion, that is our passion for classic cars. I would love to restore classic cars for a living, that is, if there is any profit in doing that.”
Richard smiled. “Chris, I know if you decide that is what you want to do, you’ll succeed at it. I also know I would like to be a part of fulfilling your dream. I would love to help you realize that goal, if possible.”
I wiped a tear from my eye. “Thank you, Richard. I know I could use all the help I can get. Richard, there is something I need to tell you and this is as good of a time as any. You see, Madam Adabelle was right. I’ve fallen in love with you and Steven. I would be the happiest guy alive if I could be together with you two.”
Richard smiled, reached across the table and held my hand. “I know Steven and I would sure be happy. We also don’t want to disappoint Madam Adabelle, do we?”
I laughed. “No, that wouldn’t be wise at all. I can see I will have a daily commute to the ranch but that’s fine.”
Richard squeezed my hand. “Chris, Bob DiAngelo set you up for permanent retirement. You don’t have to work for anybody ever again. Do you want to continue working at the ranch?”
I thought for a few seconds. “I like the work but I’m not passionate about it. I appreciate that the guys at the ranch have done a lot for me, but Mr. Lester also told me I should strive to be the best in life and that includes following my dreams. I’ll call Mr. Lester and see if he’ll be around this afternoon.”
Richard agreed. “I’m sure they will understand. They are good people.”
I took my cell phone out of my pocket and called Mr. Lester. He answered right away, said he would be around all afternoon, and to come talk with him anytime. I thanked him and said I would go see him after lunch.
As I ended the call, our server brought our delicious sandwiches. We agreed, if all went well, I could move my things to Richard’s home the following night. After our lunch we hugged and kissed. Richard returned to the office and I drove to the ranch.
I arrived at the ranch and found Mr. Lester watching Earl and Hank walk a young colt around a corral. He smiled when he saw me and suggested we take a walk and chat. I explained to him my financial situation had changed and now I could pursue my dreams. I told him of my plans to move in with Richard and Steven and asked how much notice he would need. Mr. Lester told me how happy he was for me that things were going so well. He thought Richard was a fine man and Steven was a great kid. He could understand why I wanted to be with them. Mr. Lester thanked me for letting him know as soon as I did and told me I could stay as long as I liked and if I wanted, I could leave anytime. I thanked him and told him I would be packing my things that afternoon, work the next day and leave in the evening.
I called Richard and told him about the conversation with Mr. Lester. “I should be able to leave the ranch around 5:00 o’clock and be there in time for dinner.”
Richard was elated. “I’ve been wishing for this to happen since the night we met. I’m excited and I know Steven will be when I tell him. I should be back from my trip with Kyle to Salt Lake around 2:00 o’clock, so I can help you unpack when you get home.”
I spent the remainder of the afternoon and that evening packing my things. Even though I was excited about the big change in my life, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I have no doubt I slept another night with a smile on my face.