Editor's Note: Below are the first two chapters of the book, The Adventures of a Middle-Aged Man by Russ Grimes. The author has released a sequel entitled, Continuing Adventures of a Middle-Aged Man: The Unsung Hero. To find out more about the books click on the book titles.

Chapter One—Business as Usual

     Randy Grames was a forty-one year old electrical design engineer. He worked for an engineering consulting firm in a small Michigan town. He was a five foot, ten inch tall, average middle-aged man. He had hazel eyes, a mustache, and a thinning hairline with a little gray on both sides. He had a little extra weight around his mid-section. His wonderful wife, Jennifer, was a few years younger than he. She had green eyes, long brown hair, and was slightly shorter than Randy. 

     Randy and Jennifer had been married for seventeen years. They also had two children. The oldest was Alexandria. She was ten years old with blue eyes and shoulder length sandy brown hair. Their other child was a boy. His name was Bradley. He was seven years old. He had short brown hair, brown eyes, and, like all seven-year-old boys, had more energy than twelve adults. 

They, also, had an additional family member. He was a dog and his name was Buddy. He was a Golden Retriever. Buddy had light gold hair and was four years old. He loved playing with the kids. He had such a light-hearted personality that if someone broke into the Grames house he would lick them to death. 

     They all lived in a nice blue ranch style house with a two-car attached garage. It had a covered front porch and a large open deck on the back. They had a small pole barn that sat behind the house. The house and barn sat on about three acres of land in the country. After Randy and Jennifer were married, this was the first house that they bought. They designed or built almost every aspect of it.

     Randy loved his family and had worked hard his whole life to get them where they were. With Randy there was one exception. Like many other men in the world, Randy was stuck in a rut. He got up and went to work every day. He worked all day and came home. He went to bed and woke up and repeated this same routine day after day after day. 

Each payday he spent his money on the family's bills and usually had a little left over to do some small things like take the family out for pizza or rent a movie. Each Sunday the Grames family went to church for worship and Sunday school, and every weekday the kids went to school.

     Randy often wondered if this were all there was. He desperately wanted more excitement in his life. He desperately wanted to feel like he had accomplished something that people would remember him for many years to come.

     One Friday after a long week of work, he was feeling exceptionally depressed. He came home to take care of the weekly lawn maintenance with his wife. Jennifer had suggested that a new flower garden in the backyard would be nice so she could plant more Zinnias. 

     Reluctantly, Randy gathered his tools from the barn. He went to work in the area that Jennifer had shown him earlier in the week where the new garden was to go. First, he needed to prepare the soil for the new flowers. He grabbed his shovel and removed the grass and weeds from the top and placed them in the wheelbarrow to dump into the compost bin. 

     Once this was done, Randy started the tough task of turning over the hard soil to soften it up so his wife could plant her flowers more easily. Unfortunately for Randy, the topsoil in his yard had a large amount of clay mixed in. 

     To make matters worse, if it did not rain, often the soil became really hard to shovel. He was about half way through turning the soil over in the new garden. He put the shovel into the ground and went to jump onto the top of the blade with both feet to get it in nice and deep. Halfway into the ground, the shovel hit something hard. It caused him to lose his balance and fall to the ground.

     Randy thought to himself, "What now?"
     At first he thought that it was a rock. He attempted to dig around it. After removing several shovelfuls of dirt, he could see intricate scroll work on the top of some sort of shiny silver-colored container. He put the big shovel down and grabbed a small hand shovel to dig. He continued to clear the dirt away from the object. He discovered that the container was metal, in the shape of a box about one foot in width, one foot in length, and one foot in depth. He pulled the box out of the hole he had excavated and set it on the ground. He began to clean the silver-colored box with a rag. The more he wiped, the more of the intricate scroll work he could see on all sides of it. Additionally, on the front of the box was a keyhole. Above the keyhole was a set of ancient-looking runes that he thought could be some sort of long lost language. Each rune was like a little symbol.

     Randy picked the box up and took it in the house to show his wife. "Jennifer!" he yelled, "Come and check out this cool box I found buried in the back yard."

     Jennifer, who was in the laundry room folding clothes, came to look at the box and remarked, "I have never seen such a wonderfully crafted box." She took the box from him and went to the kitchen sink to clean it up further.

     After several minutes of scrubbing the box, she took it back to show Randy. The box was now very shiny and appeared to be made of fine silver. 

     "What a lucky find. Did this come out of the new flower garden?" Jennifer asked Randy.

     Both of the kids came running upstairs after completing their level on a video game to see what mom and dad were talking about. Both were interested in the box. Immediately they asked at the same time, "What's inside the box?"

     That was a very good question since the box was sealed tight and no key was found with it. Of course he did not know and deciding to wait before trying to discover its contents, Randy placed the silver box on the counter and went back out in the yard to finish the new flower garden. Later that same evening, Randy and Jennifer came back in from working outside and started looking at the box again.

     "Do you think that you could get it open without using a key?" asked Jennifer.

     "I think so," said Randy, "I will take it out to the barn to see what I can do."

     As Randy walked out the back door with the box, Jennifer yelled, "Don't break it; I have just the place to put it in the living room!"

     Randy answered in his best husbandly voice, "Yes dear!" 

     While acknowledging his wife, his eyes rolled to the top of his head. When Randy got out to the barn, he set the box down on his workbench and began looking through his vast tool collection to see what he could use to try to pick the lock on the box. 

       He grabbed a flashlight to look into the small keyhole to see what he could. Next, he grabbed a small regular screwdriver and placed it into the keyhole and tried to turn it. It did not work. He grabbed a larger regular screwdriver and placed it on the lip of the box cover just above the keyhole and tried to pry it up. The lid did not budge. 

      He began to shake the box. He could hear the clinking of metal on metal from the inside of the box. It was getting late, and Randy had to get ready for work the next day. He sketched the writing on the front of the box onto a sheet of paper so he could do further research tomorrow. He placed the box on a shelf, so he could get back to it later.

     The next day at lunch, Randy searched the Internet, looking for information on the writing that he had copied from the front of the box. He came up empty. He thought to himself, "This is turning into a fun mystery." The more he thought about it, the more anxious he became. He really wanted to know what was inside the box.

     The end of the workday finally came, and Randy really wanted to get home to work on getting the box open. When Randy finally arrived his wife had other things for him to do. Once his "honey-do" list was completed, he was finally allowed to return to the barn and retrieve the silver box from the shelf where he had left it the previous day. He set the box down on the bench and continued his task of trying to get it open. He grabbed two small jewelers' screwdrivers and pushed them both into the keyhole. He moved them both back and forth while pulling on the lid. After about twenty minutes of no luck, his patience started to get tested. He set the box down on the bench and let out a deep sigh.

     "This is impossible," Randy said under his breath.

     Jennifer poked her head around the corner and asked, "How's it coming?"

     "Not so well. I can't seem to get the lid open."

     "Let me have a crack at it."
      "Be my guest."

     Jennifer produced from her pocket two small knitting needles and pushed them into the keyhole and began to work them around. After about fifteen minutes she let out a sigh. 

     "I give up. I think you will need to take this to a locksmith to get it open. Remember, I do not want it damaged. It's pretty," she said, and she set it back down on the work bench.

     After Jennifer left, Randy tried many different tools to get the lock open, all of which turned out not to work. Finally he became tired and decided to give up. He went to set the box on the shelf. He did not get it all the way on and it fell to the floor. He tried to catch the box before it hit the floor, but he was not fast enough. Clang! went the box as it hit the floor. He picked it up and surveyed the damage. Fortunately, he found that there was none. Randy let out a sigh of relief. He grabbed the lid with a firm grip and tried one last time to open the box. This time the lid squeaked a little and came open. He set the box down and with wide eyes looked inside.

    Randy noticed two items in the box. The first was a gold coin about the size of a silver dollar. On the front of the gold coin was a picture of a man with some kind of hat that looked like something an ancient wizard would wear. On the back were some of the same runes that were on the front of the box. The second item in the box was a rolled-up, tattered scroll. He gently grabbed the scroll and went to unroll it. Once opened, he could make out two faded paragraphs at the top of the page. Each of these paragraphs was handwritten using the same runes as on the back of the coin and the front of the box.

     Randy thought to himself, "Now, this is really turning into a mystery. This box must really be old." He and Jennifer were the first ones to build a house on this property. Before that it was a corn field, and before that it was a forest. He thought that the box must have been at least several hundred years old. Randy grabbed all the items and went into the house to show his wife and kids.

     Jennifer and the kids were sitting in the living room watching television. He set the items on the floor and opened up the scroll so that they could see the runes on the paper.

     Alexandria asked, "What does it say, Dad?"

     "I don't know, but I will try to find out," replied Randy. 

     Jennifer was equally amazed at what was inside the box. Randy picked up the box, closed the lid and handed it to Jennifer. "Put it where you want it, Honey," he said.

     She took the box with a smile. "Thanks." She placed the box on a shelf over the television with the top facing forward so the exquisite markings on the front could easily be seen.

     Randy took the coin and the scroll and put them in his computer bag to take to work with him tomorrow.

     The next day at work, Randy searched the Internet during lunch for any clue of what the runes were. He really wanted to find a possible translation for them. After searching for an hour or so he ended up at the web site of the Linguistics Department at a local university. The web site had an e-mail address of the head of the department. Randy sent an e-mail to this professor asking him for any assistance with how to translate these runes. Attached in the e-mail was a picture of some of them for the professor to view.

     Several days later he received a reply from the university instructor. Randy was very excited when he saw the e-mail pop up on his computer screen. The instructor indicated that he had never seen these types of runes before, but he had several books that had information on similar languages and offered to meet with Randy to assist in the translations.

     It was the middle of the next week before Randy was able to meet with the University instructor. The instructor greeted Randy with a firm handshake and introduced himself as Dr. Kilgrove, head of the Linguistics Department at the university. Randy noticed that he was a sturdy yet older man with leathery skin and very little hair on his head. What hair was left was grey and combed from one side to the other.

     "Welcome to my office, Randy," Dr. Kilgrove said. "Shall we get started? Please follow me," Dr. Kilgrove added as he motioned for Randy to follow him down the hall.

     They walked past five or six offices and stopped in front of an office door that had the title of "Records Room." Dr. Kilgrove produced a key from his pocket and opened the door. Dr. Kilgrove flipped on the light switch, and they both sat down at an empty table. Randy looked around the room. He saw that the walls were all lined with books and scrolls. Dr. Kilgrove got up and went over to one of the walls and grabbed a large hardcover book that looked very old. He explained that this book was one of several that were obtained from an expedition he and several other professors had taken in the nineteen sixties. These books were unearthed in a cave tomb up in the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal. Dr. Kilgrove informed Randy that these books were estimated to be over five hundred years old. As they looked through the first book, they did not find anything that resembled the runes on Randy’s box. Dr. Kilgrove returned the first book to the shelf where he had found it and grabbed the one next to it. They sat down and began searching again.

     After another hour and a half, they finished the book from cover to cover and with no luck. Dr. Kilgrove replaced the second book while retrieving the final book in the set. This book was not in as good a shape as the other two, but the information contained inside was still legible. They began reading, and, about half-way through, they noticed several pages that contained symbols that looked very close to the ones on the scroll Randy had with him. 

     Along with the runes were about twenty pieces of handwritten paper with someone's attempt to translate what each of the symbols meant. Most of the runes were translated but there were a good many that were not. Dr. Kilgrove took the handwritten sheets over to a copy machine in the corner of the room and photocopied them. "This should get you started. I will keep looking and see what else I can dig up" Dr. Kilgrove said.

     Randy was very appreciative of the help that Dr. Kilgrove was giving him, and he thanked the Doctor and said he would look through the translations and see what he could come up with.

     Later that evening, Randy was sitting at the kitchen table trying to make heads or tails of the scroll, the coin, and the box. Jennifer was also sitting at the table trying to give him a hand.

     Jennifer said, "This is kind of like a secret spy game where we are trying to discover the other side's important messages."

     Randy agreed, and they started to spell out the words matched with the runes on the three objects. Randy, finally, translated the message on the front of the box. It said, "Wish Well My Friend."

     They both looked at each other, and Randy said to his wife, "That is odd." This just made them all the more excited as the words on the coin and the scroll started to come together. The runes on the back of the coin were the next items that needed to be translated. Randy wrote down the words on a spreadsheet that he was using to keep track of the runes and what each one meant. The runes on the back of the coin translated to say, "Grigard the Wise."

     Randy looked at his wife and said, "That must be who is on the front of the coin."

     Jennifer replied, "I wonder who he was?"

     It was getting late, so Randy saved his progress and put the items away until tomorrow.

     The next day Randy sent an e-mail to Dr. Kilgrove to let him know how much progress he had made and also to ask him if he knew who Grigard the Wise was. Later that day Randy received a phone call from Dr. Kilgrove. "Good afternoon, Doctor. You must have received my e-mail," Randy said.

     Dr. Kilgrove replied, "I am happy that you have translated some of the runes, but there is something that I am puzzled by."

     "What's that?" said Randy.

     "How in the world did a silver metal box belonging to Grigard the Wise end up in your backyard?"

     Randy smiled. "Your guess is as good as mine. Do you know who he was?"

     "I do," said Dr. Kilgrove. "He was a self proclaimed master sorcerer in about 200 BC."

     Randy's jaw dropped. "You mean that the box in my backyard is Two Thousand, two hundred years old?"

     "Yes, it could be, if you translated correctly," said Dr. Kilgrove. He continued on, "Remember when I told you we found the books in the mountains in Nepal? There were ruins at the top of a nearby summit. The locals said a great sorcerer once lived there. There are many tales of his magical deeds, and some even say that he came from the sky!"

     "That is very interesting; I never would have thought I would find something like that in my back yard," Randy replied.

     Dr. Kilgrove told Randy, "I will get in touch with you again when I find something else. Oh and by the way, good job on the translations."

     Randy, appreciating the complement, said, "Thank you," and hung up.

     Later that evening after Randy got home and the family was eating dinner, he explained to them who Grigard the Great was and how old the silver box was.

     Alexandria and Bradley were so amazed; the food almost fell out of their mouths. He asked Jennifer if she wanted to work on the rest of the translations later that evening.

     Jennifer smiled back and said to him, "Well Duh!"

     The Grames family finished dinner and cleaned up the table. After the kids were put to bed, Randy and Jennifer sat down at the kitchen table to work on translating the writing on the scrolls. Randy started up his laptop. He opened the spreadsheet he had been using to keep track of what was completed. Randy and Jennifer started working on the first paragraph on the first scroll. 

      "What do we have so far?" asked Jennifer.

     Randy replied, "We have a few words that mention the coin, to do something when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and something about your left hand."

     Jennifer asked, "Ok, what about the second paragraph?"

     Randy read the following words from the spreadsheet: "A starting sentence, an ending sentence, and something about a complete, thought out wish."

     Jennifer thought for a moment and said to Randy, "I feel like we are on the wheel of fortune. Can I buy a vowel?" They both chuckled for a minute and tried to figure out more of the runes.

     After several hours they both came to the conclusion that they were as far as they could go with the information they had. Randy told Jennifer that he would talk with Dr. Kilgrove the next day to see if he had come up with anything else.

     The next afternoon Randy contacted Dr. Kilgrove and told him about what he and his wife had translated so far and, also, asked him if he had any further information on translating the runes or on how the box came to be buried in Randy's back yard.

     Dr. Kilgrove said to Randy, "I have spoken with some of my other associates that were on the expedition with me. We found a partial copy of a book that has further translations in it. Also, we found a translated scroll that said about two thousand, one hundred years ago, Grigard the Great's castle turned into a fireball, and the next morning there was nothing left standing. There was another translated story of some of the villagers rummaging through what was left of the castle. They found many strange items in the rubble. Some of these items were claimed to have magical healing powers, power to turn someone invisible, and the power to grow plants from a seed to full-grown in a matter of minutes. There is one sentence that mentions a silver box that no one could get open, and it was traded to someone from Europe that was passing through the area for food or animals. I have scanned these pages into a file that I am e-mailing to you right now."

     Randy again thanked him for the assistance, and Dr. Kilgrove said to Randy, "This is the most fun I have had in a long time. Please keep me up to date on what you get translated."

     Randy agreed and said goodbye. He hung up the telephone to wait for the files. A few minutes later the e-mail from Dr. Kilgrove popped up. Randy opened the attachments and sent them to the printer. He put them into his computer bag to take home to use them for reference later with his wife.

     That same evening Randy and Jennifer started working on the translations. "This new information Dr. Kilgrove provided looks like it is going to help us finish the paragraph translations," Randy said to his wife. After a couple of hours, they had completed the translations of both paragraphs on the scroll. They read as follows:

Place the coin in the palm of your left hand. Face in a southerly direction. When the Sun is at its highest point, close your eyes and think about the wish you would like to have granted. Now, say the wish out loud.
A word to the wise: wishes used for evil purposes will have dire consequences for the wisher. Each wisher will only be able to wish three wishes. The wishes will only continue to work while the coin is in the wisher's possession.

     Randy finished reading the paragraphs to his wife. They looked at each other in disbelief. Jennifer asked Randy, "Do you think this is for real?"

     "I think so." He told her about the additional information that Dr. Kilgrove had told him earlier that day. "I am going to try it out tomorrow at noon."

     "Good Luck," his wife replied, not believing for one minute that it was for real.

     Randy could not sleep a wink that night, wondering what he should wish for, and was it really for real?

The First Wish – Extremely Lucky

     It was Saturday, so Randy did not have to get up for work. Unfortunately, the excitement was too much, and he had not been able to sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking about what to wish for at noon. He was up early writing down what he wanted to wish for. He would not want to make any mistakes. Finally, he had figured the puzzle out: all he had to do was wait. 

     At ten minutes before noon, he went outside to the backyard. He took the gold coin and placed it in the palm of his left hand. He faced south. Exactly at twelve noon, he closed his eyes and thought about the wish he wanted. 
     Randy yelled, "I wish to be lucky. Whenever I gamble or play the Lotto, I want to win the greatest amount available for that game!" The coin began to grow warm in his hand. A couple of seconds later there was a flash of lightning and a loud boom as if the lightning were right next to him. Randy's wife and kids were inside the house and were startled by the loud sound. They all ran out to the back yard to see what happened. There they found Randy standing there with the coin in his hand.

Bradley asked "Hey Dad, are you all right?"
"Yup, I am fine."
      Jennifer asked, "What did you wish for?"
"I will let you know in a week."

Afterwards, they all went inside. Randy wrapped the coin in a small towel and locked it in the safe. He was cautiously optimistic, wondering if the wish would actually come true. He wanted to make sure before he tried to wish his next two wishes.

On Monday of the next week at work, Randy went to buy several Lotto tickets. He was part of a group of four individuals that had started a Lotto pool at work. For the past two years, they had each been putting two dollars a week into the pool. Randy would go and buy lotto tickets for drawings on Tuesday and Friday of each week. They made a pact at the beginning that if they won, all the members would take a lump sum payout and split any winnings equally. Randy figured this would be a good test to see if the coin's magic was real or not, especially this week since the Lotto jackpot was one of the largest in its history at over three hundred million dollars.

Randy was really busy at work, Monday and Tuesday came and went. When Wednesday morning finally came around, Randy had almost forgotten to check the Lotto numbers. He went to the Lotto web site on the Internet to check his numbers. Just like he always did, he covered up his numbers and wrote down the actual numbers from the web site. 

       Once that was done, he compared the actual numbers to what he had drawn. As he started through, he was surprised. He matched one number, then the next, then the next, then, all five numbers; he even matched the power ball number. At that point Randy almost fell out of his seat. He went back onto the Internet to the Lotto site to double check that he had the correct numbers. Again, he matched all six numbers. Randy could hardly contain himself. He got on his cell phone and called the three other people that were in his lotto pool. He called them into a conference room that was close to his office.

Once they all arrived, he tried the best he could to keep his poker face. He kept it until he pulled out the ticket and showed all of them that they were going to be rich. All in the room were giddy with excitement and could hardly contain themselves. After some quick calculations, they determined that each of the members of the group would receive about twenty-five million dollars after taxes. Even though everyone wanted to, they did not quit at that very moment. When they started the Lotto pool, they had formulated a plan that if they won they would hire a lawyer and start a trust. The lawyer could represent them and get the money anonymously. Once that was done, the money in the trust would be equally distributed to the members, and they would be millionaires without anyone knowing. At that point the trust would be dissolved. It was hard to work the rest of that day knowing that they were only weeks away from retiring.

Randy called the lawyer that the Lotto pool group had selected. At the end of the day, they all went to meet with him. He informed them that it would take several weeks to complete the process. He agreed it was a very good way to handle this, and, also, he was going to make a hefty fee for assisting them. 

      As the weeks went by, each of the members in the group had a hard time keeping the secret. They knew that if any of them talked about it the whole plan would be ruined. To help with the pressure, they met every morning to talk and encourage each other not to talk, and shared with each other what they were going to do with the money. 

      When several weeks had passed the lawyer called them. They each went and met with him. They all signed the papers to close the trust and each received a check for a little over the twenty five million they had estimated. They all went out to eat at the fanciest restaurant they could think of to celebrate their new fortunes. At the end of dinner, they all fought to see who would pick up the tab. Randy was the fortunate one to win the rock, paper scissors tournament they formed to choose the winner. 

      That night Randy went home and called his wife into the bedroom. Once she was in and sitting down, he closed the door, walked over, and gave her the check.
     She looked at him. "Hey, this is a nice fake check.
     Randy smiled. "It is not a fake; it's real."

At that point he explained the events of the past several weeks and she about fainted. He planned on meeting with their financial advisor to discuss how he could invest the money so that they could retire and live comfortably on the interest. He also wanted to keep some money available, so they could give some to their church for some construction projects that were underway. Also, they wanted to help their close family members.

The next morning at work when Randy came in, two of the other people in the lotto pool had already turned in their resignations. They were packing their offices up while smiling from ear to ear. The third member came up to Randy and said to him, "It's not my time yet, but I will make sure you are here when I leave." He winked and smiled in a mischievous way.

Randy figured it was definitely going to be a day to remember, and he did not want to miss a thing. At lunch Randy went to talk to his financial advisor about what to do with his share of the money. Randy explained to him that he did not want to end up like others he had read about that had won large amounts of money and ended up broke in a couple of years. Also, he explained that he wanted to start a non-profit company to help people financially with college grants or small business loans. In addition, he wanted to keep some of the initial amount in a separate account so that he could splurge on some items for his family. The majority of the money would be set up in an account that would not be touched and a monthly interest check, which was a sizable amount, would be deposited in his checking account.

The next weekend Randy and Jennifer went to a local casino to double check that the wish did come true and was not a coincidence. Once they got to the casino, Jennifer went to the slot machines to play while Randy watched. She placed a one dollar coin into the slot machine several times but did not win. She put a dollar coin into the slot machine and let Randy pull the handle. As the wheels spun they all matched up for the win. They both were amazed as the dollar coins poured out the bottom of the slot machine. Randy took some of the dollar coins and went to another machine and put five dollar coins into the machine and pulled the lever. After several seconds the wheels stopped spinning and the lights on top of the machine started spinning and a loud horn went off. Randy smiled to Jennifer as a casino representative came over to greet them.

"You have just won our daily quarter of a million dollar giveaway," he proclaimed.

They both jumped up and down and went to cash out their winnings. After a total of one hour in the casino, they were very happy. Just for fun they stopped at a convenience store to buy several scratch off lottery tickets. Randy took two, and Jennifer took two. Jennifer scratched hers off: they were both losers. As Randy scratched his first one off, he won one thousand dollars. He scratched the second one off and won two thousand five hundred dollars. Randy looked at his wife and smiled. "This is going to be fun," he said. 

      He got out of the car and went back inside to the clerk. He handed him one of the tickets and said, "Thanks, you sold me two winners; here is your share." The clerk was very surprised at the generosity of a stranger and thanked Randy over and over again. He returned to the car, and they drove home.

On Monday morning Randy decided it was time for him to retire from work. When he arrived at work he found out that he wasn’t the only one that was going to retire that day. Curtis, one of the other members of the lotto pool, stopped by Randy’s office. "Today is going to be my last day," he said.

Curtis told him he had written a message on the whiteboard in the lunchroom for everyone to see. Randy smiled and walked briskly toward the lunchroom. As he walked around the double doors that led into the lunchroom, he could see several people were already viewing Curtis's handy work. He looked at the whiteboard, and written in Blue marker were the words: "Work Sucks, I’m rich, I Quit!!"

Randy chuckled and went back to his office to write up his letter of resignation. While Randy was writing his letter, Curtis was making a big stir in the office with his boss. Curtis turned his letter of resignation in by writing it on a piece of toilet paper. He even used a brown marker to write it. When he handed the letter to his boss, he put his feet up on the desk.

      After that he walked by Randy's office and said to him, "See you later. Maybe we should get the group together in the Bahamas this winter." Curtis smiled and left the building. As he was leaving he squealed his tires in the parking lot with his brand new red Porsche. Randy finished his letter, retrieved it from the printer, and went to his boss's office to hand it to him. 

       He did not put his feet on the desk, just smiled and told his boss that this would be his last day. In fact, he was going to leave right after he left his boss’s office. After talking with his boss, he went back to his office to retrieve his box of personal items he had packed earlier in the morning. As he picked it up, several of his co-workers stopped him to wish him good luck and asked him if they could go with him.

Randy looked at them and said, "You never know, I may need some help in the future. I will keep in touch."

Randy left the building and went home. On the way home he thought about what his next wish would be. He had a pretty good idea of what he was going to wish for, but it would have to wait until tomorrow. This afternoon he was going to buy the new truck that he had been wanting for some time. When Randy got home, he told Jennifer where he was going. She asked, "Can I get a new SUV?"

Randy smiled back and said, "Sure, let's go. We can buy both of them before the kids get home from school. Won’t they be surprised?"

They both left and headed to the local car lot to get the family two new vehicles. When they got to the dealership, they split up and started looking at vehicles. Randy went to look at the trucks and Jennifer at the SUVs. Randy looked at several trucks and ended up stopping at a green four-wheel drive crew cab truck with satellite radio, GPS navigation system, and a DVD player that the people in the back seat could watch.

Jennifer picked a blue four door SUV with a moon roof, DVD player, and leather interior. Randy picked out the truck he wanted and walked over to Jennifer to see how she was coming. When she saw him walking toward her, she pointed at the blue SUV and yelled, "This is the one I want!"

Randy gave her the OK sign. She came up to him and asked, "What are you going to get?"

Randy pointed to the green truck and said, "That one."

"I like the color," she said.

By now they had aroused the interest of one of the salesmen. He exited from the showroom and began walking towards the two. He was a young man in his late twenties and was smartly dressed. When he reached the two, he said good morning and shook both their hands.

"Is there anything I can help you with?" he asked.

Randy replied, "Yes, we are looking to get a couple of new vehicles and to trade in our old mini van. Do you think you could help us with that?"

"I am sure I can. Do you have anything on the lot picked out?"

"Yes, we do. My wife likes the blue SUV over there, and I like that green truck over there."

"Well, let’s go inside and see if we can work something out." Randy and Jennifer followed the salesman back onto the showroom and went to his desk. Randy and the salesman first talked about what they could get for their trade-in. The salesman informed Randy that he had to talk to the manager about this. The salesman called the manager and gave him the information on the minivan. There was a brief pause. The salesman wrote down a number on a piece of paper and slid it over to Randy.

Randy and Jennifer looked at the number. "This is a little less than what we were thinking. If you can add five hundred dollars to that offer, we have a deal," Randy said.

The salesman again talked to the manager. He informed him of the new requested price. Also, he informed the manager that they were not buying only one car but two cars. The salesman hung up the phone. "The manager is coming out to meet you," he informed them.

Soon the manager came up and introduced himself. The manager informed Randy and Jennifer that since they were buying two vehicles they would meet Randy’s counter-offer for the mini-van trade-in. They sat down to discuss the new vehicle prices. Jennifer walked around the showroom looking at other cars and brochures. Randy, the manager, and the salesman, finally, came to an agreement on both new vehicles. Included in the deal, Randy got free oil changes on both vehicles for the first year.

The salesman asked, "How will you be paying for these vehicles? Do you need a loan?"

Randy just smiled and pulled his checkbook out. "Will you take a personal check?" he asked.

The manager and the salesman looked at each other in disbelief. The salesman said to Randy, "You want to write a personal check for over sixty thousand dollars?"

"Yes, I do."

"This is highly irregular, Mr. Grames. I will need to verify your credit before we can accept a personal check of that amount."

"That’s fine," Randy said.

     He gave the salesman his bank account information. The salesman and the manager excused themselves. They both walked over to another office and picked up the phone to call the bank. Jennifer came over to see how it was going.

"Where did they go?" she inquired.

"They went to call the bank to see if my check is good," Randy replied smiling. They both giggled as Jennifer sat down next to Randy. It was not very long before the manager and the salesman came back with smiles on their faces.

The manager spoke to Randy first. "We are sorry to doubt you, Mr. Grames. The bank confirmed that you have more than enough money to cover the check. We can’t be too careful these days."

Randy smiled, shook his head in agreement, and said, "That’s ok, I understand completely."

They finished working out the deal, and Randy wrote the check. Forty-five minutes later he and Jennifer drove away from the dealership in their two brand new vehicles.

When the kids got home from school, they were very surprised at the new vehicles in the garage. They really liked that both of the new vehicles had DVD players built into them so they could watch movies when they went on long trips. The kids, still not knowing about what had happened to their father, wondered how they could afford two brand new vehicles. Bradley said to his sister, "Dad must have gotten a nice bonus!" Little did they know that this was just the start of some big changes that were coming to their family.

Later that evening Randy was getting ready for bed and his wife came into the bedroom. Randy said to her, "I know what my next wish is going to be for. I am going to make it tomorrow at noon."
  Jennifer replied "What is it going to be?"
     Randy said, "I want it to be a surprise." He had a huge smile on his face.

Want to read more? Click on the chapter title to visit the Adventures of a Middle-Aged Man webpage on the website.  

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