“Whoever and wherever that person is,” Pat continued. “I thank him/her. My faith in humanity wavers at times, but I am ever the optimist inside. I do not plan on changing that characteristic.” The door opened, not the police, but Phyliss, the secretary, phone in hand. “Oh, yes, Mr. Bates? You’re wanted outside.”
The meeting was supposed to end with a brief toast to Caroline’s pregnancy, but then Pat abruptly stood. “Congrats to all the new parents and those who will soon be!”
As irritating and odd as he was, we were compelled to listen, especially given the knowledge that Pat had recently been charged with obscene behavior. “Not nearly as major as the great news of healthy newborns and their loving new parents, I must report to say when I left my flat this morning I almost tripped over something. Yes, it would not be the first incident of injury for me this year!” He paused, seemingly for effect, and his gapped teeth made a sudden and startling appearance. “It was my wallet! All money was in it, just under $100. All cards were in it; unfortunately, I cancelled all my cards, but no one used any, so that is good. I also got a new driver’s license.”
Kiara leaned into Caroline; neither could suppress a laugh.
“Nevertheless!” He tried to laugh too, but it came out more as a wheeze. “Nevertheless, whoever the person is, I am thankful that the person, who may have had some moral issues to battle, must have heard an inner voice saying, to borrow a film’s title, Do the Right Thing – it may have taken a while, but the better part of him/her answered a tiny prayer I silently said in my head.” Pat was forgetting to breathe and struggled with the last few words. “Wording may be awkward, but fear not–I don’t have too many voices shared in my head–I couldn’t resist a chance to offer a line like that!” He opened his bottle of green tea and drank ferociously.
Caroline stood; we all did. It seemed that the police might arrive any moment.
Pat continued on. “I also want to say I thank everyone here. Everyone here has made this onetime outsider feel as if he is part of a large, caring family. This is how we work if you are patient and give it a chance. May it always stay that wonderful way. Thank you all. Cheers!” He darted past Phyllis and down the hallway toward the back exit.