Meanwhile . . .
“Lori, invite Mr. Ricci into my office,” says Dr. Cashman.
“Do I have to? Can Mark and I flip a coin to see who asks him?” pleads Lori.
“Okay,” says Dr. Cashman reaching for more Tums.
“I don’t have any change, Lori. I used my change to buy a soda three hours ago. Dr. Cashman, you should keep a small refrigerator in your office and stuff it with soda and sparkling water,” says Mark Doolittle.
“My purse is in my office. Do you have a coin, Dr. Cashman?” asks Lori Smith.
“Forget it, I’ll ask him,” says Dr. Cashman pushing away from her desk. She stands up, smooths her jacket and skirt and walks around the desk toward the door.
“Since you didn’t answer me, can I have a fridge in my office?” asks Mark Doolittle.
“Mark, not now, please,” says Dr. Cashman putting her hand on the doorknob.
“Don’t tell him you’re wearing a wire,” says Mark Doolittle.
“I am not wearing a wire,” says Dr. Cashman.
Dr. Cashman opens her office door and calls out, “Mr. Ricci?”
Uncle Mike takes the magazine off his face, sits up straight, and looks at Dr. Cashman.
She says, “I’m Dr. Cashman, the principal.”
Uncle Mike stays sitting. He says, “A couple of things. I like to use first names, you know, it tells me we going to work together. Is this okay? If it is okay, I will ask you the second thing.”
Dr. Cashman figures she has nothing to lose. “My name is Victoria.”
Uncle Mike says, “My name is Mike, I’m going call you, Vickie because it sounds more friendly. You got a problem with that?”
Dr. Cashman who has never been called Vickie in her life will do anything to get this over with. “It’s fine, Mike. What is the other thing?”
“If you answers the way I hope you answer to the other thing, I got a third thing I want to ask you, is that okay?”
Dr. Cashman is thinking, he sounds like Vinnie always asking questions. “It’s fine, Mike.”
“The other thing is something I am very sensitive to, I don’t want you to take it the wrong way or anything.”
“Are you wearing a wire?”
“For heaven’s sake, I am not wearing a wire.”
“That’s good. Now, I will ask you the third thing and if the third thing gets the answer I want, I will ask you the fourth thing. Is this okay?”
Dr. Cashman steps from the doorway to her office to the outer office. She places a hand on each hip, “Okay, sure.”
Uncle Mike stands up, “Before I ask you the third and maybe the fourth thing, I got to make this observation and I don’t want you to take no offense.”
“What is your observation?” says Dr. Cashman.
“Anybody ever tell you that you are one beautiful woman. I am not exaggerating.”
Dr. Cashman flushes. She hopes Mark Doolittle and Lori Smith didn’t hear what she heard.
Before she answers, Uncle Mike says, “I thinks I embarrassed you. What I said I do not say casually to other women. You are something else. This leads me to the third thing. At the present moment are you in a relationship with anyone?”
Dr. Cashman says, “Excuse me, Mike.” She turns and walks to her office door and peeks in. Mark is working on his fantasy football app. Lori is ordering delivery Chinese. She closes her office door and turns back to face Vinnie’s uncle.
“I’m divorced but this has nothing to do with Vinnie.”
Uncle Mike waves a hand, “Vinnie is around the sixth or the seventh thing. We got to work up to it by clearing out all the incidentals. I got to ask, why did you get divorced?”
“I got to know if I’m going to get to the fourth thing.”
“He left home one day and there was note on the table and that was that.”
“Well, this man was a fool to let you out of his sight. You want me to talk some sense into him?”
Dr. Cashman is thinking I don’t ever want to see the fool again and I don’t want to be involved in a missing person investigation who is later found decaying in the desert. She says, “It’s okay, Mike. I’m over it.”
“Good. This is the fourth thing. I know a nice quiet bar where you and me can have a drink and talk about Vinnie. This way we can solve the one problem and talk about other things.”
Dr. Cashman thinks I could use a drink right now. “Okay, Mike. I’ll follow you.” She takes her handbag off the counter and follows Uncle Mike out the office door.
Twenty minutes later, Mark Doolittle looks at Lori Smith, “How much longer do you think this meeting is going to go on? Look through the spyhole.”
“I’m afraid to,” says Lori Smith.
“Me too,” says Mark Doolittle.