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Saturday, September 18, 2010

What About Bryan? by Nancy Goldberg Levine

If anything could go wrong today, it had. First, Kacey Schneider had been late for work, and her boss didn’t like it when people were even one minute late. The copier had broken, and her co-workers were crazy, but the worst part was that the ceramic goose that sat outside her house was missing. She might not know what to do about co-workers or the copier, but she had a handle on where the goose might be. Kacey stopped short at the front door of her neighbor‘s stately English Tudor home, and knew she was right. Her ceramic goose, Jessie, was sitting brazenly on the porch, wearing a silly pumpkin outfit. Her neighbor, who had been very neighborly in his complaints about her singing while she cleaned her house on Saturday morning, was clad in neatly pressed tan slacks and a blue and white striped Oxford shirt. She hadn’t noticed how nice-looking he was when he’d complained to her about the music. He had wavy brown hair and brown eyes and broad shoulders. He looked a little like her favorite baseball player. Just a little.


“I’m Kacey Schneider from next door and you stole Jessie. My mom left me that goose in her will when she died.”

“I’m Bryan Safer, and I haven’t stolen anything.”

Kacey pointed to the ceramic goose in question. “Then what’s Jessie doing on your porch?”

“This goose belonged to my Aunt Phoebe. When she passed away, she gave me the goose, this house, and everything else that goes along with it.”

“I don’t believe you even have an Aunt Phoebe, you…you…goose-stealer.” Surprised that she couldn’t think of any other names mean enough to call him, Kacey paused for a moment, then blurted out, “I work at the IRS. In the Tax Shelter Department. If you don’t return Jessie to her rightful owner, me, I’ll have them summon your tax records and then they’ll put a lien on your property, so I’ll get my goose back.”

Kacey noticed the twinkle in his eyes when he said, “I’m a lawyer. I specialize in probate law, so I don’t know much about taxes. I do know that if I don’t pay them, they can put a lien on my property, but I assure you, I pay my taxes every year. Early. ’Way before April 15th.”

Okay. So he had her there. “I’m leaving. But I’ll be back.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

When Kacey walked away, she wondered why she’d never noticed how cute Bryan was before.

Kacey thought about her missing goose all through the next work day. She vowed to get Jessie back. By the time she got home, she was still thinking about it.

The aroma from the beef stew with wine sauce she’d put in the crock pot that morning filled the house. Her brother’s laptop computer hummed as he worked on the historical column he wrote about their town in New Hampshire for the local newspaper. Kacey worked in the kitchen, chopping salad and pretending the tomato was Bryan‘s head.. She remembered how much her mom had loved Jessie, and how she’d enjoyed making the little outfits to cheer up both Kacey and her brother, Craig. Although Craig was a college man of twenty, he still needed cheering up since he was in a wheelchair because of his Multiple Sclerosis. Kacey had to get that goose back -- for Craig and for herself. And on general principle.

She started to sing one of her favorite pop songs as she worked. “Oh…oh…have you ever seen me…” she belted out, while she put the salad in one of her mom’s crystal bowls. She stopped in mid-song when the doorbell rang. “Who dares to interrupt the great opera diva, Kacey?” She opened the door and saw Bryan, holding not one ceramic goose, but two. “Oh. It’s you.”

Then she noticed that his usually neat trousers were soaked and muddy from the rainstorm that had been plaguing their town all day. There was a scratch across his handsome face, too. One of the geese that he held was in pretty bad shape, and was held together by gray duct tape. “Come in,” she said. “What in the world happened?”

“I did a little investigating on the whereabouts of Jessie. I found out that some teenagers took her, and then broke her neck. They tried to hide her in my rose bushes, and I saw them, so I ran after them, but they got away. Then I tried to put your goose back together, but…”

Kacey almost cried. She wasn’t usually so emotional; she just let things build up until she finally exploded. Bryan’s act of kindness had just made tears well up in her eyes. “You did all that for me?”

“Anyway, since I couldn’t save Jessie, I’m giving you my Aunt Phoebe’s goose. Her name is Lola.”


Bryan shrugged. “My aunt really liked Barry Manilow music. I know she’d want you to have Lola, after all you’ve been through.”

“That’s so nice, but I don’t want to take away your memories.”

“It’s okay. Aunt Phoebe’s hard to forget. Besides, now I’ll be able to see Lola in front of your house. That is, if you don’t mind me hanging around.”

“I don’t mind at all,” Kacey said, noticing the laugh lines in his face and his introspective brown eyes. “In fact, why don’t you stay for dinner? I make a great beef stew, if I do say so myself.”

Bryan did stay for dinner, and Kacey had the feeling he’d soon become a regular guest at the table.

About the Author: Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of "Tempting Jonah," a romance novel about friends who become lovers set in the fictional town of Mensocket, Maine, where "Mustang Lorelai" takes place. She is also the author of more than 50 short stoies. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and her day job is working for the government.

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