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Brandon Wilkes is a 45-year-old sports columnist who has never settled down to the point of marriage. At first it was his career that caused him to go the bachelor route. He became a respected and successful sportswriter. As he grew older, he seemed content to be single the remainder of his life. That's not to say that he didn't have relationships or that women didn't pursue him. He just didn't want to make a permanent commitment to a woman.
He was content with the way things had been in his life. Going to work, meeting friends at the local pub and covering various sports events for Kentucky Sports Weekly. His easy-going lifestyle undergoes changes as some big events happen in his personal and professional life. Brandon tries to come to terms with the direction his life is heading and trying to deal with those things he believes to be important.
Brandon arrived at Porterâ€™s about ten minutes before noon. He went to the bar and ordered a Pepsi. He noticed her reflection in the bar-length mirror when she arrived at the restaurant. Her hair was down to her shoulders and she was wearing an aqua blue dress and a string of tiny pearls. He remembered her being attractive when he met her at the university a few days earlier, but certainly not as beautiful as she appeared now. He turned around in the bar stool and stepped down and walked toward her.
"Hello, Ms. Horton,â€ he said.
"Oh, hi,â€ she said with a radiant smile. "I hope you havenâ€™t had to wait long.â€
"No, I just got here a few minutes ago.â€
A matronly hostess in a black skirt and white blouse came up and took them to their table. The Tudor-style restaurant was about three-quarters full and would likely be packed by twelve-thirty. It was a favorite spot for business people, especially those wanting to conduct some business during the lunch hour.
A waitress brought them glasses of water and took their orders. Clarice asked for a chef salad with fat-free Ranch dressing. Brandon ordered a steamed vegetable plate.
"Why donâ€™t you call me Clarice.â€ she told Brandon. "I think we can forgo the formal titles now.â€
"Only if you call me Brandon,â€ he said.
"Itâ€™s a deal.â€
"What did you think of the news conference?â€ she asked, her tone turning business-like. "Was it worth the time?â€
"I thought it was better than most,â€ Brandon said. "There was some news value to it. Most of the news conferences at the university, most places in fact, are simply vehicles to get a companyâ€™s name in the newspaper.â€
"I tend to agree,â€ she said. "We try to keep that in mind when we hold news conferences. Sometimes we succeed and other times weâ€™re pressured in having a non-news event.â€
"You mentioned about having some other things coming up,â€ Brandon said, wanting to hurry up and get through the business end of the conversation.
"Well, itâ€™s nothing I can really divulge at this moment other than to tell you that I have two that are sports-related, one with basketball and the other baseball,â€ she said. "It has more to do with capital improvements.â€
"Well, let me know when youâ€™re ready to stage them and we may staff them,â€ he said.
"How long have you been a sportswriter?â€ she asked.
"Nearly twenty-five years,â€ he said. "Since about the day I graduated from college.â€
"I bet itâ€™s really interesting, going to all the games and meeting the personalities involved.â€
"Itâ€™s interesting at times but few games are memorable and most of the athletes and coaches are full of themselves,â€ he said with a chuckle.
"Isnâ€™t it that way in most things?â€ she asked.
"I bet itâ€™s difficult having a family being a sportswriter.â€
"I think it is,â€ Brandon said. "But I wouldnâ€™t have first-hand knowledge because Iâ€™ve never been married.â€
"Oh,â€ she said. "Forgive me if Iâ€™m getting too personal.â€
"No problem,â€ he said, taking a sip of water. "I just chose never to get married. Iâ€™ve seen what this profession can do to relationships. I also know a few alcoholics who are sportswriters.â€
The waitress returned with their food. They sat quietly for a few minutes as they ate. There was a soft buzz around them of many people talking business and an occasional table being cleared by a busboy.
Brandon looked at Clariceâ€™s left hand and noticed that she wasnâ€™t wearing a wedding band. He knew that didnâ€™t necessarily mean she wasnâ€™t married since many couples didnâ€™t wear rings.
"Speaking of professions, how long have you been in public relations?â€ he asked.
After swallowing some food, Clarice cleared her throat and said, "About eighteen years. I worked for agencies in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles before I came here four years ago.â€
"What brought you here?â€
"My husbandâ€™s job. Heâ€™s an engineer at the automotive plant.â€
Michael Embry, a native of Kentucky, is the author of three nonfiction sports books and three novels. Among his Kentucky "hometownsâ€ are Frankfort, Louisville, Lexington, Richmond, Jeffersontown, Campbellsville, Madisonville, Morehead, and Hopkinsville. He is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and a veteran of the Air Force, spending most of his time at Whiteman AFB in Missouri.
Embry has worked for Kentucky newspapers in Madisonville and Lexington and a national news service, making stops in Louisville, New York, Milwaukee and Lexington. He retired as editor of Kentucky Monthly magazine in Frankfort in 2006 to return to school to become a special education teacher. Among the organizations he is involved in are the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Golden Key International Honour Society, National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, Sierra Club, and The Friends of the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort.
Embry and his wife, Mary, live in Frankfort with their two Yorkshire Terriers, Bucky and Baxter.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 374
Paper Weight (lb): 15.4
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