James Ford and his daughter, Clementine Phillips, left the restaurant and headed to a 24 hour check cashing office.

“Now, you don’t say a thing, understand?” Ford warned Clementine.

Clementine grinned and nodded.

“Just follow my lead!” Ford explained, “go along with everything I say, got it?”

“Got it!” Clementine replied.

They entered the office where, behind a glass enclosure, sat a very bored clerk. Ford guessed he was a college student working part time on the crummy shift.

“Can I help you,” he lazily asked.

“Yeah,” Ford said, “I’ve got some money coming that my ex-wife wired me. Has it arrived?”

“What’s the name?” the clerk asked.

“Sawyer LeFleur,” Ford answered.

The clerk checked the computer. “I don’t see that any funds have been wired in for a Sawyer LeFleur. When was it sent?”

“About an hour ago,” Ford answered.

“Well, I’m sorry sir,” the clerk replied, “but I don’t show anything!”

“Well, how about that!” Ford started to say, trying to hold in his fake anger, “I arrive in town with my daughter and the airline losses our luggage with all my cash! Now we’re stuck here with no money for a motel, no money for a meal!” Ford turned to Clementine, “honey, when’s the last time you ate?”

“Five days!” Clementine volunteered.

Ford gave her a dirty look that silently told her to ‘SHUT UP!’

“Well, sir,” the clerk said, “sometimes these things take time, so why don’t you have a seat and as soon as anything comes in under your name, I’ll let you know!”

Ford nodded, as he and Clementine took a seat on a bench in the office.

“So now what?” Clementine whispered.

“Just hold on!” Ford whispered back.

While they waited, a young couple came in. They told the clerk they expected some money to be wired in. They gave their name as Anderson. The clerk checked and told them nothing was in yet and could they please wait! They took a seat at another bench across from Ford and Clementine.

Ford noticed the young man had a military style haircut.

“You have to wait for your money too, huh?” Ford asked.

The young man nodded, “Yeah, I was told it should be here by now. I’ve got to take my wife to her mother’s, then catch a plane! I have to ship out first thing tomorrow morning!”

“You in the military?” Ford asked.

“Yeah, Navy!” the man replied.

“Say, so was I,” Ford said, “was stationed on the Kennedy aircraft carrier during the Gulf war! Yeah, my ex-wife was supposed to wire me some money because the airlines lost my baggage with my cash! My daughter’s hungry! We have no place to stay! All I gotta say is that money had better get here or we’re gonna be sleeping out on the street tonight!”

“Yeah, I don’t want to miss my check in at the ship!” the young man said.

“Tell you what,” Ford started to say, “if my money comes in first, I’ll give you enough to hold you and your wife over. I’ll give you my address and phone number, so you can pay me back when you get the chance!”

“Oh, we can’t let you do that!” the young man’s wife said.

“Yeah,” the young man added.

“Naw, its okay,” Ford said, “you can’t miss your check in at your ship! Its no problem! We sailors gotta stick together, huh?”

The man and woman smiled. “Tell you what,” the young man began to say, “if our money comes in first, then we’ll give you enough money to tie you and your daughter over, then I’ll give you our address and phone number, so you can pay us back!”

“Okay, it’s a deal!” Ford said, as he reached out and shook the couple’s hands.

Then they all waited. Suddenly, the clerk called out, “Anderson!” The couple quickly got up and went to the clerk’s window.

Ford leaned over and whispered to Clementine, “Now you’re going to see some complete strangers give us money!”

The couple signed for the wire transfer and took the cash. They turned back to Ford and Clementine.

“So how much do you need to hold you over?” the young man asked.

“Oh, about a hundred dollars!” Clementine spoke up. Ford gave her a look that could kill.

“Okay!” the young man said, as he peeled off five, twenty dollar bills and handed them to Ford. The young woman then gave him a slip of paper with their address and phone number.

“You can pay us back when you have the chance!” the woman replied.

“Here,” Ford said, taking a pen and notepad from his own shirt pocket, “I’ll give you my address and phone number. I’m visiting here from Tampa. You ever get down my way, you contact me! We can talk over our Navy adventures!” Ford then tore off the piece of paper and handed it to the man.

“Thanks,” the man said, putting the slip of paper in his pocket, “I’d like to do that sometime! Well, we’ve got to get going!”

“God bless you and your daughter!” the young woman said, as she and her husband left.

“God bless you both!” Ford replied.

Ford and Clementine waited awhile, after the couple had left, before they themselves exited the office. When they went outside, Clementine was ecstatic!

“That was so awesome!” she cried out.

“Ah, that was some dinosaur stuff,” Ford replied, “old man cons! Well, its time to get you back home.”

“What address and number did you give them?” Clementine asked.

“Oh, I don’t know” Ford replied, “probably to some vacant lot and a disconnected number!”

“What are you doing tomorrow?” Clementine asked, taking the hundred dollars out of Ford’s hand and putting the bills in her jeans pocket.

“Why you want to know?” Ford asked.

“I thought maybe you and I could, like, hang out,” Clementine said, “do what Fathers and Daughters do. Whatever that is!”

“Don’t you go to school?” Ford asked.

“I’m registered!” Clementine answered.

“That’s not what I asked, iCarly,” Ford said.

“Yeah, I go to school!” Clementine replied, “I just don’t always go to class!”

“Well,” Ford replied, “I’m taking you back home. You go to school in the morning, okay?! Gimme your number. I’ll call you!”

“You gonna stay in town awhile?” Clementine asked.

“Yeah, for a few days. Got some business I’ve gotta attend to!” Ford replied.

“Where are you stayin’?” Clementine asked.

“I’m over at the Desert Breeze Hotel,” Ford answered, “hey, why you wanna know?!”

“Thought maybe I’d drop by for a visit,” Clementine said, “after school of course!”

“Well, you stay put,” Ford said, “I’ll give you a call tomorrow. As I said, I’ve got some business to take care of in the morning. So, I’ll call you late tomorrow afternoon. After school!”

Clementine nodded.

Ford dropped her off at home. After she gave him her cell number, he promised her once again he would call. As he drove off, Clementine went into her house and grabbed the phone book and looked up the Desert Breeze Hotel.

She noted the address and figured she would use part of the $100 to hire a cab tomorrow morning and head over to the hotel. She wanted to see what kind of business her father said he had to attend to! Besides, it would give her something to do tomorrow instead of going to school. School was such a downer anyway!

Next: Chap. 4 “Model Student”

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