“My God, Jim, you look awful,” Harold said. “What’s up?”
“Something unexpected and bizarre happened,” I replied.
“Let’s hear it.”
“Tomorrow I’m going to meet a woman who says she's my daughter.”
I was touched by the look of concern that immediately appeared on Harold’s face. It was a reassuring affirmation of our friendship.
“Sit down,” he said. “I’ll pour us some brandy.”
“That sounds good.”
“Is it true?”
“And this is the first time you’ve heard of it?”
“Yes. I had no idea. It happened a long time ago, when I was a first lieutenant in the Air Force.”
I described the telephone call late yesterday. Her name was Lana and she’d found me through a Google search. She asked if I had been involved with a girl named Carla, when I was stationed on a military base in Texas. The recollection came instantly. I replied, yes, I’d known Carla.
“Well, she got pregnant by you and had me. Right after I was born, she gave me up for adoption. She never told you about it.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Hello? Are you still there?”
“I’m sorry, but this is mind-numbing.”
“I understand. But I hope you would be willing to talk to me about what you know about my grandparents. And of course about you.”
“Where are you calling from?” I asked.
“You’re here in Italy?”
“Yes, I’m with my son. He’s twelve.”
“His name is Leon. I’ve always wanted to see this country, and this has given me a good excuse.”
“Here,” Harold said, handing me a glass.
“So where and when will you three meet?”
“They’ll arrive at Forio Porto at nine tomorrow morning.”