Clementine Phillips, for once, was speechless.
“Now, first of all, we’re going to go back into that store and pay for all those groceries,” James Ford said.
“What do you want?” Clementine finally said.
“I wanted to see you,” Ford said, “I needed to tell you something!”
“Tell me, what?” Clemetine’s eyes started to tear up and she didn’t understand why.
“Lets take care of these groceries first,” Ford said, “then I’ll drive you over to drop them off! Your mom home?”
“No,” Clementine answered, “she’s working late at the bowling alley.”
“Okay,” Ford continued, “after we drop off the groceries, you and I will go back to that restaurant to pay your check, then we’ll have a talk!”
After Ford paid for the groceries and dropped them off at Clementine’s house, they headed back over to the restaurant, where Clementine had dined and dashed. Ford paid that check, then they sat down at a booth to chat.
“What do you want from me?” Clementine asked.
“Just some of your time!” Ford said.
“Why should I give you the time of day?!” Clementine angrily asked, “I don’t know you! You were never around! Mom and me are doing fine! We don’t need you to come around and mess things up!”
“Duly noted,” Ford replied, “its not my intention to “mess things up!”
“Then what do you intend to do?!” Clementine asked.
“I wanted to let you know about a bank account I set up in your name a long time ago!” Ford began.
Clementine sat looking at Ford expressionless.
“I arranged to set it up for you to have access when you turned 18!” Ford explained, “which ain’t that many years off!”
“How much is in the account?” Clementine asked.
“$50,000” Ford answered.
Clementine tried to imagine that amount of money. She couldn’t!
“Why are you telling me this now?” Clementine asked, “why not wait til I’m 18?”
“I didn’t know if someone I had asked to long ago, had told your mother about it” Ford answered, “so I wanted to use this as one of the reasons to look you up and tell you!”
“One of the reasons?” Clementine noted, “what are the other reasons?”
Ford smiled, “I just figured it was time we met!”
“You sure you don’t want to get into that account?” Clementine asked, “like you can’t get to it yourself unless I give you approval, or something like that!”
“No,” Ford angrily replied, “nothing like that! Only you can get to it and only when you turn 18!”
“Well, that sucks,” Clementine lamented, “mom and me could use that money now!”
“Yeah, I know,” Ford said, “but at the time I set it up, your mom and me, well, we didn’t exactly see eye to eye!”
“Don’t seem you guys exactly see eye to eye now!” Clementine smiled.
Ford noted it was the first time he had seen her smile. It was a pretty smile.
“Touché’” Ford answered.
“Well, where do we go from here, daddy-o!” Clementine asked. Ford noted she didn’t use the term “daddy-o” in any affectionate manner.
“I don’t know, its up to you!” Ford said.
Clementine thought about it.
“Well, since you came all this way to tell me about a bunch of money that is mine but I can’t get to until a few years from now,” Clementine began, “and since me and my mom are still struggling to make ends meet and something tells me you’re not gonna hang around to be the father you should be!”
Ford winced at that comment!
“Then I ask of you only one thing!” Clementine finished.
“Anything you want,” Ford replied.
“Mom told me you were a con man!” Clementine said.
“She did, huh?” Ford said, “well, your mom wasn’t no Sister Teresa herself!”
“Well,” Clementine continued, “I want you to teach me!”
“Teach you what?” Ford asked.
“I want you to teach me everything,” Clementine said, “I want you to teach me the long con!”
“Oh no, you don’t!” Ford protested, “I’m not gonna show you a thing, little lady!”
Clementine smiled coyly, “I wonder if the Albuquerque police would be interested to hear you’re back in town?”
Ford was aghast.
“You gonna turn me in?!” he asked, “you’re gonna turn in your own father?!”
“In a second!” Clementine said, “if you don’t take me under your wing!”
Ford shook his head. ‘Terrific’ he thought, ‘I’ve just been blackmailed by my own kid.’
And although he was becoming a bit annoyed, there was also, he had to admit to himself, just a smidgen of pride!
“Okay,” Ford began, “I’ll tell you what. We can’t do a long con!”
“And why not?” Clementine asked.
“Because, Tinker Bell,” Ford explained, “a good long con can take months, if not years, to develop! You want to spend the next few years working the con?”
“Why not?” Clementine replied, “maybe by the time its over, I’ll be 18 and I can get my hands on my money!”
“Nevertheless, no!” Ford sternly stated.
“Okay,” Clementine continued, “what department do I ask for at the police station? Vice, larceny, or fraud?! Maybe in your case, all three?!”
Ford now rolled his eyes. “Alright! Alright! I’ll show you a short con, if it’ll shut you up and make you happy!”
“It would shut me up and make me very happy!” Clementine cheerily replied, “when?”
“How ‘bout tonight?” Ford asked, “its still early enough in the evening!”
“Goody! Goody!” Clementine softly squealed, reminding Ford that although she was almost grown up, she was in many ways, still a child.
Next: Chap. 3 “Dinosaur Stuff”