Carla had to get home. Not only did she have to get dinner going by 4 o’clock, she needed to wash, dry and fold two loads of clothes by bedtime. That is, if she wanted things at home to run smoothly. Her husband, Jamie, wasn’t difficult, really, but that was the point—the fact that he wasn’t pushy made her want to please him more. She guessed it was love. He certainly did many things just to make her happy—she was sure of that.
For example, Jamie cared very little about movies, especially going out for them. Still, at least twice a month he’d get Carla to pick one out and they’d go to see it. Sometimes he liked the movie and sometimes he didn’t. The important thing, she thought, was that they were sharing and communicating. Those were two important things for a marriage.
When Carla’s came round the bend in her van and her house was in sight, she saw that there was a car parked in front on the street. A red Nissan or one similar, she thought.
“Now who could that be?” she wondered aloud to Jimbo or, rather, Jaime Jr. Jimbo couldn’t answer, of course. He was only eighteen months old.
The man, an older one, began to get out of the car as soon as Carla parked in the driveway. She knew he was going to speak to her, so she took her time getting Jimbo out of his car seat. The man looked harmless enough, she thought. Why, he could be her father from the looks of his age.
“Excuse me, Ma’am. I’m looking for James Benedetti’s daughter. Would you know where I could find her?” he asked.
“That’s me,” Carla answered. “I’m his daughter, Carla. He died a few years back in case you don’t know.”
“I do know, Ma’am. A buddy told me about it at the time.”
“Who are you?” Carla remembered to ask.
He laughed. “I’m Roy Rogers, Carla, believe it or not, but no relation to the great cowboy.”
“I can see that,” Carla said, smiling. “And I recognize your name. My father talked about you at times. You and another guy named Smiley. He was very fond of you guys. What was it you needed here? With me, that is.”
“I came by to leave something with you. A good luck piece.”
“Oh, really? That’s interesting. Would you like a cup of coffee or something? It’s no bother.”
“It isn’t necessary,” he replied. “Maybe some other time. I’ll let you know if I pass through again. Here’s the good luck piece or charm, whatever you wanna call it.”
He carefully handed her a deep green piece of jade about the size of a sewing thimble and sort of round like a thimble too.
“Oh, this is beautiful. Really is.” Carla exclaimed with surprise. “I’m sure my father didn’t mention this in his talks about Korea.”
Roy smiled. “No, maybe not, but that would be like James, wouldn’t it?”
“Oh yes, it would.” Carla replied, taking the proffered stone from Roy’s hand.
“You see, he found it in Korea. We were out on duty. We all went ‘loco’ over it and even insisted on flipping a coin to see who would end up with it. But James would have none of that. ‘I found it,’ he said, ‘and I’ll say what we’ll do with it.’ Well, your dad was a pretty tough fellow. What was surprising was that in a few days he comes up to me and says ‘You keep it, Roy. Keep it for good luck. But under one condition.’ I say what’s that? He says, ‘That you give it to a son or daughter of mine before you die. That way, you’ll meet one of them and we’ll pass the stone on to boot. Deal?’ Deal, I told him. So, you see, I’m just doing what I promised.”
Carla was silent for a few moments. She looked Roy over a bit closer. “Why today, Mr. Rogers?”
Roy swallowed. “Writing on the wall,” Carla. “I expect to be spending some time with James again in the not-too-distant future. And I imagine you know something about timing. You can never be totally accurate.”
Carla had tears in her eyes as she took Roy’s hand. “Thanks, Mr. Rogers. You’re right. I do know something about timing. Good luck to you. Both. I hope you both have fun just as you used to.”
“Thanks, Carla. I do too. Those years I served in Korea with Smiley and James were some of the happiest years in my life.”
Roy turned and went back to his car. Carla and Jimbo hurried into the house. It was 4:15 p.m. and Jaime liked his dinner between 5 and 5:30.
“I think I’ll make it,” Carla wondered aloud to herself again. “In fact, I’m fairly sure I will.” She placed the stone on a windowsill in the kitchen. Its green was especially attractive there with the sunbeams shining on it. She’d loved her dad dearly and knew he’d always loved her. He was forever showing it in little things. Little things like this jade stone. Carla began to hum a tune and to make preps for the stir-fry, Jaime’s favorite.
END of James Benedetti’s Daughter