Summer came, tucked behind a flawless spring. Raymond loved perfection, but he did not know that with perfection, sorrow would soon follow. It started with a late evening phone call. Raymond Winston Tyler and Trent Michael Walters had retired to their large, loft-style bedroom after an uneventful Friday. The two were trying to decide if they should watch the local news or one of the three videos they had rented for the weekend. Raymond answered the phone on the nightstand after a couple of rings. He started to let the answering machine pick up, but the ring sounded unusually urgent and important. Maybe it was his younger brother, Kirby, or his best buddy, Jared.
After about ten minutes of "Yes... Yes... I can't believe this," Raymond walked over toward the large bay window. As he held the portable phone to his ear Raymond gazed at a burst of orange and blue lightning slice through the clouds as the sky opened up and sheets of rain began to fall. It was both beautiful and frightening.
Trent realized this call was important and went downstairs to the kitchen. A few minutes later he returned with a bowl of microwave popcorn, a box of peanut M&M's, and two bottles of water, just as Raymond was hanging up the phone with a stunned look on his face.
"Is everything all right?" Trent asked with concern in his voice.
"You're not going to believe this," Raymond said as he rubbed his forehead.
"That was the chief of staff for Senator Patricia Murray's office," Raymond said.
"The U.S. senator? And?" Trent quizzed.
"I've been nominated for a federal judgeship," Raymond blushed. "Get the fuck out! That's great," Trent said as he hugged his broad-shouldered partner.
"I still don't believe this," Raymond said as his lips parted into a huge smile.
"Why not? I've always known you're the best lawyer in the world," Trent said proudly.
"Do you realize the next step would be the Supreme Court? What is this ... I'm getting ahead of myself. Supreme Court, my ass! My pops isn't going to believe this," Raymond rattled off.
"Call him," Trent urged.
Raymond looked at the digital clock on the phone and realized it was past midnight in Birmingham, Alabama. But Raymond wanted to share the news with his parents.
"Do you think it's too late?"
"Raymond, how often does someone get nominated for the federal bench?"
"You're right," Raymond said as he grabbed the phone and dialed his parents' number. After three rings Raymond started to hang up when he suddenly heard his mother's sleepy voice. A voice more familiar to him than any sound he'd ever heard.
"Ma," Raymond said.
"Ray? Is everything all right?" she asked.
"Everything is fine. I'm sorry to call so late. Where's Pops?"
"He's right here. You want to talk with him?"
"Yeah, but I want you to hear this too. Put me on the speakerphone." Raymond knew his father hated the speakerphone, but he heard a click and then his mother's voice suddenly sounding far-off. "Ray Jr.? Are you all right?" Raymond heard his father ask.
"I'm fine," Raymond assured him.
"Then this better be good. Do you know how late it is?" "Yeah, but I thought you'd like to talk with the future federal judge from the Western District Court of Washington," Raymond said. He liked the sound of his possible new title.
"What!" Raymond heard his father exclaim. Raymond could hear his mother in the background singing, "My baby ...my baby going to be a judge." She sounded like the mother in the movie The Nutty Professor singing "Hercules, Hercules."
Raymond heard some clicking in the phone and then he could hear his father's voice more clearly. Raymond Sr. had turned off the speakerphone. "Is Ma all right?"
"She's fine. When did all this happen? Why is this the first I've heard of this?"
"I didn't know I was even being considered. I knew there were some openings, but everybody in my office thought they were going to pick an Asian-American or this lawyer Charles Pope. I'm still in shock," Raymond said. "I guess we can thank the Simpson trial and my taking your advice about helping out Norm Rice in his race for governor." "Did Norm have something to do with this?" Raymond Sr. asked. "I have no idea," Raymond answered. "I got the call from Senator Murray's office. Her chief of staff said they had been trying to reach me all evening. But I guess we should all calm down because I haven't been put on the bench yet. There is the confirmation process," he warned. "Don't worry about that. You'll get it. I know they need some local color on that bench."
"I hope you're right, Pops. I hope you're right."
After hanging up the phone, Raymond sat on the edge of the bed silently, listening to the rain and thinking about how his life was getting ready to change. Again.
During the Simpson trial Raymond had served as a talking head for the local NBC affiliate and had become something of a local celebrity, partly because he never seemed to take sides and also because Raymond was a very good-looking man. The station had been swamped with calls, faxes, and letters from women wanting to know Raymond's marital status. Raymond and Trent would spend some evenings reading some of the offers from viewers. Ray had his secretary send each viewer a thank-you note stating, Mr. Tyler is very happy in his personal life. When the station offered Raymond a permanent position, he politely declined.
His father was a retired family court judge and state senator who had always dreamed his son would follow in his political footsteps, and had suggested Raymond parlay his newfound celebrity into political prominence. It had been years since his father had encouraged him to pursue politics.
His mother just wanted him to be happy.