I have to admit I really love my 1966 Pontiac GTO. I didn’t really know what to call it: a gift, a payment, a reward for walking more than I like, or what. It didn’t come gift-wrapped from Doctor Weirdo, our neighbor, better known to us as Jack, but I felt guilty, like I should give it back to him or something . . . I finally decided to just go with the “something.” But I felt better, because I could have refused it and could still any time I want. I can’t see myself doing that, but there’s always a chance.
Jack lives right across the driveway from us, but we’ve never been in his house, and Rose and I aren’t really sure that he stays in the house, but then we’re not nosy . . . not really. Now that I’d mentioned his name it was probably a good idea to prepare for a visit from Jack.
About two hours later the mail came, and there was an invitation for dinner at our favorite restaurant, The Lobster Shop. This was Monday and the invitation was for five in the evening on Thursday. Peg said, “Let’s go ten minutes early, so we can get the table by the window on the Port area side.” I nodded, but I was pulling out a handwritten note from the envelope: “If you’re free, I would like for the two of you to visit Seattle this weekend. My treat. Jack . . . p.s. Joining us on Thursday will be a friend who needs some assistance.” I shook my head sideways and was just opening the door when Rose asked where I was going. I said, I’m going to figure out whether to shoot myself or the GTO.
As soon as we entered The Lobster Shop, we checked in and were immediately ushered to the private dining room (no Port area view), which is normally reserved for small parties or meetings. We were told our waitress would be Diane, our favorite contact there. The ordering was already done for us. Service came to a halt when Jack’s friend stopped in, wearing a COVID mask, and he kept it on. He was there just long enough to introduce himself to us. He said he was worried about his son. Jack’s friend looked kinda familiar and had a manner that spoke volumes about a big net worth. In the Seattle area this usually means Bill Gates or someone of similar ilk. His son is a good kid and a basketball player, but still young. My guess is Gonzaga, but I’ve been wrong before. Our masked friend left soon after giving us no idea of why we were there and what we were to do about the boy.
We had two glasses of an excellent Sauvignon Blanc. After a few sips of our wine, two soup dishes of Lobster Bisque were placed before us along with lots of butter and great bread. After the bisque we had our favorite pear salads to munch on. Just as we shrugged our shoulders, Jack appeared.
Jack was just in time for salmon (for Rose and Jack). They both declared their meals to be excellent. I just nodded as I cut into a fairly large lobster and Peg her salmon. The salmon and lobster were perfectly prepared, but then they usually are. We took dessert home. In-between bites, Jack told us a bit more . . . but just a little bit more.
The son was in love with basketball and a young woman who was a hopeful candidate for The Seattle Storm. Our job was too . . . we had no idea. The kid wanted to play in a pick-up game with the big boys at Cal Anderson Park on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Cal Anderson has been a magnet for social unrest. It’s tough to rest when you’re worried about unrest. Jack said the kid goes back to school on Sunday.
We were booked at a private home near Volunteer Park at the other end of Capitol Hill. Jack gave us the key and an envelope. The envelope had enough money to cover virtually anything we wanted to buy in downtown Seattle, but we were warned to only take some of it to Cal Anderson. Rose excused herself and visited the Lady’s Room.
When Rose returned, I saw her eyes dart around the restaurant. “Jack’s not here.” Rose did a double take at me and said, “What am I missing? Everything and nothing?” I had no answer.
Friday morning, we packed two bags and a CPAP. We didn’t choose our best clothes. We chose our comfortable clothes. We called for a cab and had the cabbie take us all the way to Capitol Hill. It wasn’t our money . . . and we probably had enough to cover a cab trip to New York and back.
The cabbie carried our bags into the house and gave us a card saying, “I’ll come and pick you up.” We liked his turban and he was polite, so we kept the card. Inside the house was nice, very clean. We never saw a single fingerprint. Rose said, “I think we’re in a safe house.” “Don’t share any secrets, we’re probably bugged,” I laughed . . . and then I looked around carefully.
Saturday morning, not knowing when people played basketball, we slept in. We took Uber to the park around eleven. The courts are on the south end, so we got out on the north end and strolled past the fountain to the court area. A mixture of kids was shooting baskets. We went looking for a sandwich shop and then came back. The basket shooting was getting a little more serious. Rose spied the kid first in a colorful striped T-Top. We still had no idea what was going to happen and what we might do about it and the boy.
Teams had been chosen. After ten minutes or so, one guy came out and the boy went in. He muffed a couple shots and his team members weren’t happy about it at all. I could tell the kid wasn’t long for this game. He didn’t look that good at all . . . without thinking I yelled out, “For god’s sake haven’t you ever played this game before? Don’t you know when to pick and roll. Can’t you shoot a basket?” I rode him like the wind. His team thought it funny, but you could tell I was starting to get to them as well. The team members now hated me. So they gave the kid some slack. But still, he was almost snarling when he grabbed a rebound and jumped and stuffed the ball home. The people watching cheered and his pick-up team got some life into them as well. The kid put on quite a show, not only shooting, but defending, and passing, he had the complete package. He quit on a high note and shook hands with his team before walking toward me. I would have run away, but I backed into Rose who had a new friend. The kid was coming for the girl Rose had been chatting with. Both were just shining with gleaming delight. He took a towel she offered and wiped away some of the sweat and then he extended a hand in friendship and thanks. Nice kid. He and the girl looked perfect together. “She’s probably a forward,” I thought.
Rose called our turbaned cabbie. We rode back to our rental home, after stopping at several different food vendors. We packed out bags, got in the cab and napped all the way home. As we waved to the cabbie, Rose turned to me and said, “For not knowing what we were supposed to be doing, I think we did a great job or whatever it was that we were supposed to do.” I answered her, “Yeah . . . kinda.”
c. 2021 Don and Peg Doman