I was sitting in my classic GTO, while Rose was inside Freddie’s shopping. With the price of gas, I didn’t want to run the engine, and no matter what, I always worry about discharging the battery and being left with not enough energy to start up the car again. When Rose is shopping it could take anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half . . . or more. But that’s okay, I always have something to read or at least think about while I wait. My mind has been known to wander.
I was one regular parking space away from the entrance, where I could keep an eye out for my wife. People watching is just something I do. It’s entertaining, and lets me make up stories. I had already seen a number of people that made me think, made me laugh . . . made me think again. The last one that caught my eye began with an agitated walk, a bald head, and a fearsome look on his face. It was a beautiful June day, getting close to July, so it seemed like a strange choice for a jacket. He was wearing a heavy brown jacket that looked like fake fur. If he dropped down to the ground and crawled on a path in nearby Snake Lake you would be hard-pressed to tell him apart from a young Kodiak bear, except of course we know that Tacoma has no Kodiak bears. But stranger than his jacket were his mean little eyes, and that I had spotted that he was wearing skin-colored latex gloves. I saw the gloves and the hand that slipped into the pocket of his jacket as he walked past my GTO and almost stomped into Freddie’s pushing a grocery cart in front of him. I decided I would never want to meet him on the path at Snake Lake, nor a dark alley.
I kept an eye on the door for Rose and Mr. Kodiak, but dozed off for a few minutes . . . perhaps more than a few. I awoke just in time to see an older woman looking out the window of a senior living mini bus a little off to my left. It was one of those small buses with an elevator for assisted loading and unloading people as needed. I liked the PR statement on the side of the bus “Your Partner In Senior Living.” The senior living woman looked like she was praying. I was about to nod in her direction, but she was looking back at the entrance/exit doors of Freddie’s. My eyes followed her lead and the commotion to my right immediately drew my attention.
The customer, none other than Mr. Kodiak, had lost his bear coat and was swearing and making threatening motions at the security guard, stirring up a hornet’s nest. As the guard backed away Mr. Kodiak drew himself up to his full height (not that tall actually), puffed out his chest like he had just won a bull ring fight or at least scored a free kick in soccer. He laughed and saluted the security guard. That’s when I saw that he was wearing skin-colored latex gloves, which erased all doubt of this being a different person. He turned and walked toward the senior filled bus.
My eyes shifted back to the window with the frightened lady. She now not only had a face of fear, but was holding up her checkbook towards my window and pointing at the name. I was too far away to read anything on the checkbook, but recognized the style of the check as coming from our own bank. I held my cell phone to suggest she call the bank and she gestured with her hands as if something was broken in two. My guess was that Mr. Kodiak had collected all the cell phones and possibly stomped on and broken them. I held one finger up to my lips and the lady understood to be quiet. I also showed both of my hands and pushed them down meaning “stay calm” and with a wider gesture to include all of the bus riders to do like-wise. She nodded knowingly and straightened out her shoulders.
I pulled out my cell phone and got a hold of Rose, who was checking out at the other end of the store. I told her I would meet her just outside the building where she was and we would speed away and save the day as soon as she had her seat belt on. Speeding away just didn’t happen of course. Once we made contact, I turned my attention back to the woman on the bus and gave her the thumbs up. She nodded and I started the car and whipped around to the other end of the store. Seconds later Rose and I were caught in late afternoon traffic. Although I knew every back road and short-cut, and my GTO had never taken a back seat to anyone, fate was against us. We couldn’t have gone any slower. I explained everything that I had seen and what I thought was happening to Rose. She naturally wanted to call the police, but what could we tell them? We had no hard facts to deal with. We were filled with possibilities, but little actual content. We waited and then broke a few speed limits.
When we showed up at the bank it was all over. I could see the bank security officer wiping away blood from his beautiful white teeth and emergency people everywhere. I was ready to cry. I reached over to Rose and held her tightly as I wept openly. In the middle of a deep sob, I heard a calming voice. I turned to see my lady from the bus. With her was a reporter from the newspaper. The bus lady had already given a short dissertation about how I had encouraged her to be quiet and fight back. She continued, “As soon as we had been herded into the bank, we took a chance and our entire senior group jumped that bully and beat the stuffing out of him. He deserved it after punching that cute security guard. I took the bully’s gun and gave him an elbow in the gut like I learned at the “Y.” She looked directly at me and said, “We owe it all to you. You gave us the confidence.” Rose nodded her head and said, “That’s my husband. He always knows the right thing to say and do.”
A couple of weeks later, while making my own deposit I talked to the guard and asked him how he was doing. “My buddies are still laughing at me for being saved by a bunch of seniors without a weapon among them.” “Can I buy you a cup of coffee or a beer,” I asked. “He smiled and said, “Maybe next month. You do know it was stupid encouraging them to fight back, don’t you?” “It’s a long story . . . and not quite what I had in mind.” We both just laughed and shrugged our shoulders.
The day after the news story hit, I received a note from Jack. “So, now you’re out working on your own? Don’t need me anymore? The note was attached to a small gift-wrapped box labeled “For the Court Gesture”. Inside the box was a latex glove and another note: “Turn your head and cough!”
c. 2022 Don and Peg Doman