Chapter 17 The Dreamers
Dave’s friend was standing by the Cessna at the city airport at 8:30PM. I couldn’t believe we were really doing this red-eye flight... He said it would be alright to leave my car there as it was locked at night. The pilot, Ben Bozutto, said that when we get in Tuesday he would be at La Guardia waiting for us right were he dropped us off. He has someone waiting for us who will drive up over to the TWA gate. Some service form a total stranger. He said that he and Dave had a little friendly card game planned for tonight. I reminded him to take it easy on Dave as minor league player didn’t make much money. He was quick to tell me that Dave had more his money than he did of Dave’s. He just hoped to get some of it back tonight.
I took an envelope out of my pocket and handed it to him. “No listen,” he said. “I can’t take this from one of Dave’s friends,”
“Yes you can,” I said. “I don’t expect you to be doing this just for the fun of it. This is a big help to us.”
Ben relents and stuffs the 5-one hundred dollar bills into his coat.
“Thanks,” he said with a grin. “I’ll try and not to give all of it to Bolton tonight.”
We get situated in the plane and latch our seat belts. We take off into a foggy early morning sky, but it was sure dark. All you could see was dim little flickers of lights on the ground as we headed out over Long Island Sound. This would be a big improvement of the 2 hour plus drive or taxi ride on Connecticut Limousine Service from New Haven. I told Ben if I ever made it to the NY Monarchs some tickets would be in his future. This sure beats driving.
We get to NY in plenty of time and find our seats in First Class with John, our flight attendant, helping us with our bags. He asked us if we would like something to drink before we took off, but he added they would be serving us breakfast once we were airborne. I told him we were fine for now.
Gloria got settled in as I found a copy of the fresh Monday NY Times as they made sure they were on the Red-Eye flights. Gloria was paging through the Sunday Times inserts left in the seat pouch; the Times Magazine Section and the Book Section. I found that the NY Monarchs lost another one, making it 4 in a row and the press was really hammering them for their sloppy play.
John offered each of us a book to read on the flight as he admitted that today’s Cheech and Chong Movie would probably not be our cup of tea. He apologized as he was not the one who picked it. Not much culture there I thought. I took the copy of “Presumed Innocent” by Scott Turow and a copy of the Sporting News of course. Gloria took “Bonfire of the Vanities” by Thomas Wolfe. I read that one and liked it very much. John remarked he seemed to prefer periodicals and that he was impressed we took books. Gloria remarked that she would have to read it to me and I was a “jock” and still had trouble with the bigger words, as she put it. He and she laughed. I didn’t. She told him I played for the AA Monarchs in Connecticut and that we were unbeaten. John said to look out as I might find myself in NY pretty soon, maybe even just swap whole teams. He thought the ones in NY now were playing more like minor leaguers anyway. He wished us well and said he’d be back with our breakfast after we got airborne.
We pushed back from the gate and made sure our seat belts were fastened. I leaned over to Gloria and gave her a kiss. We held hands as we taxied out to the runway. She placed her book in the pouch on the seat in front of her and just tried to relax.
The take off was smooth and I loved the sensation of climbing higher and higher, thinking of all the thrust it must take to get this big hunk of metal into the sky. I’m not sure that believe all the physics involved in making that happen, but I’m glad some pretty smart people figured it out.
Gloria looked out her window as the city looked magnificent from the air at this time of day. It looks so beautiful that sea of twinkling lights, row after row, obliterating the pain and anguish that many in a city this size feel everyday.
We moved across west New Jersey climbing to 28,000 feet. Gloria decided to try and catch a few winks. I grabbed the paper. The Monarchs had lost four in a row, three in a row to the Orioles after splitting a short two game opening series with the Red Sox. Billings had pitched a 7 hit shutout in their only win. The Sporting News was a week behind and had nothing on the opening week. It was still interesting to look at the predictions and what really transpired since opening day. Jean Dixon should have been a sports writer. She would have no better luck handicapping these teams. Everyday would be a humbling experience as those who picked the Monarchs to win it all and watch them fall under .500.
There was a short blurb on our team in the Eastern League section from Red Dodge:
Our team has the potential to contend for the title this year. Whether we live up to that time will tell. We have a good group of kids, including a surprise or two, and if we don’t lose too many players to the big club we could do quite well.
We’ll what do you know, I thought. Red thinks we just might have something. Cool! It would be tough on Red, I thought, to be leading the league at the All Star break and then loose players like Jones, Bond, Tavy, maybe even Meyers. Como, and Morse to close out some games. That could devastate our little City team. I knew George would waste no time if his team looked bad by early July, but still were not too far out of it. George had little patience for failure. The Next issue of The Sporting News would be interesting.
Gloria had fallen asleep. I went ahead and ate my breakfast and ordered some coffee and orange juice. I was alone again. Not really as I looked at this angel sitting next to me. She slept for almost 2 hours and woke up in time to have some breakfast. She still looked very tired, beautiful but tired.
It was a peaceful flight as we landed at LAX in Los Angeles. We retrieved our baggage from the overhead compartment and moved through the portable ramp linking us with the terminal gate. As we enter the TWA baggage carousel I spot a young looking man, tall, thin, with a receding hairline that doesn’t match his face. He is wearing jeans and a USC T shirt and boat shoes with no socks. He is holding a sign that says “Alan” on it. I take Gloria by the elbow and gently move her in Doug’s direction.
“Doug Milton,” I say just a little loudly, to get his attention. “I’m Bill Alan. This is Gloria James.”
“Good to meet you, Bill,” replies Doug, but hardly looking at me as Gloria as caught is full attention.
“Doug, I’m over here,” I state as dough finally makes eye contact with me. He reaches out to shake my hand.
“This is Gloria, Gloria James,” I repeat as Gloria reaches out her hand to Doug. “Gloria, I think this is Doug Milton, but be careful, this is Disneyland you know!”
She shakes his hand, thanking him for going to all this trouble to pick us up and all. He tells her it is no trouble at all.
“He doesn’t look too suspicious to me,” add Gloria. “I think we’ll be alright in his care.”
“It’s too late now,” I add. “We’re here and this is it.”
“OK, you two,” said Doug. “A ride with me sure beats walking, trust me.” He smiled warmly at both of us.
This way Doug states as we head out to the shuttle area to be transported to the short term parking lot. This ride is only a couple of minutes long. The next one will be longer.
We get to the lot and Doug ushers us to his red, BMW 325 four-door sedan. He opens the trunk with his key fob and reaches for out bags. He places them next to his golf clubs and three tennis rackets. He unlocks the doors and opens the front door for Gloria to ride up front. I was not surprised. I hop in the back and get comfortable. Doug starts the car and we pull out to the parking attendant booth, he hands her $3 and we head out on our way at last. He takes the lane that says Route 1 north where there is little traffic to contend with.
“I sure wish you had more time to spend out here is California,” Doug begins. “There are so many places I think you would enjoy seeing and so much we could do. Maybe before you leave tomorrow I can at least drive you around for an hour and show you a couple of sites you might like.”
“I’d like that very much,” said Gloria looking back at me for permission. “Bill, could we, if we have time?”
“If we have some time that would be fine with me,” I approve. “Doug’s the boss.”
“Listen, let’s not get too upset about what has happened,” said Doug. “What’s done is done. “I think trip out here to explain things to Chris and make amends is admirable. If they can get back together that would be fine with me.”
“Well, something like that would be nice,” I add. “That may be expecting a little too much all at once. I think if we can get Chris not to pull a gun on us or pull all of Gloria’s hair out that would be a start.”
“Real funny, Bill,” says Gloria sarcastically. “I’m getting nervous just talking about it. You’re just making it worse.” Gloria doesn’t even turn around as she talks.
I lean forward and tap her on the shoulder. “I’m just kidding with you,” I offer feebly. “Doug may have this right on target.”
“You don’t know how close I came to backing out of this trip anyway,” she adds looking at me.
“That would not be happening,” I add matter of factly. “I do know where you live, you still might be in your pajamas and this just might be a kidnapping.”
“Really,” said Doug? “I would pay to see that!”
“I’ll bet you would,” I reply.
“Alright, you two, knock it off,” states Gloria emphatically. “There will be no pajama parties for either of you. Get over it!”
“Oh well, Doug, I tried,” I add with a laugh.
“Anyway, Chris is really pretty tame,” Doug adds. “You’ll really like her I think. Pretty level headed really. You’ll see.”
We speed up the highway with just the beautiful hum of the BMW engine filling the interior of the car. Floating just about the engine purr is the sound of Steve Winwood: Take It as It Comes. Was that apropo or what?
“I live in Topanga, just a little north of the airport,” Doug states. “I have a friend in the construction business who built some condos out there. He gave me a deal on one that I couldn’t refuse. I ended up buying two of them. One I plan to rent out as soon as I finish decorating it. You know carpet, paint, wall paper, that sort of stuff. I should have it ready in a couple of weeks.”
“Doug, what do you do for a living,” I ask? “I got the feeling over the phone it was NOT in the legal profession.”
“You’re right there,” said Doug with a laugh. “I’m a salesman for a custom sheet metal manufacturer in Riverside. We make all kinds of metal boxes and brackets for different kinds of companies. We even make some parts for the M-16 rifle in your neck of the woods in Hartford, CT. I did over a million dollars with them in M-16 parts. War is not always bad you know. That WAS a joke.”
“Do you ever get to Connecticut often,” I ask?
“I went once last year to check on a new part they wanted us to make for them,” Doug continued. “The buyer for Colt is a great guy and loves to play golf as much as I do. We played at Tunxis Plantation out in Farmington. Lots of interesting shots. Very nice. If you play I’ll give you his number and you can link up, literally. He comes out here more often as he really like some of the courses I play better. It’s his dime to get here, though.”
“Your work sounds pretty interesting,” I add. “I guess it is pretty profitable?”
“Depends on a lot of things,” Doug replies. “The competition is tough. Some times another company wants a job so bad they keep lowering their price just to take it off the street. That is a very bad way to sell anything. When that happens we just walk away and wait for another opportunity. Some customers trust us so much they don’t even go out for bid anymore. We like profit, but we are fair as well. The more our customers sell the more make as well so it pays to be smart and competitive. Often stuff we loose comes back to us for poor quality from the guy who won the job or he just can’t deliver on time. We are good at what we do”
“Sounds like you really like it,” Gloria adds. “It must be great to have a job you really like?”
“It sure beats a real job,” adds Doug laughing. “Kind of like your, uh Bill?”
“I wondered when that was going to come out,” I reply? “NO athlete jokes, please.”
“OK, I’ll take it easy,” says Doug. “It’s just because guys like me are jealous you know.”
We pull onto route 27 and see a sign that says “Topanga 4”. Doug moves the accelerator as he down shifts to hit the exit at a slightly slower speed. We turn and head up a two-lane asphalt road, with no houses to be seen close to the road. The beautiful sound of the engine was super. I could really use one of these Beemers I thought.
Doug pulls into the driveway of a beautiful two-story contemporary duplex. His driveway is on the left. This visual effect is as though one is looking in a mirror as the two car garage joins the houses in the center. There are beautiful coach lights on each side of the garages and on the front of each house by the front door. It appears as though the wood as been left rough and just stained a light sand color. The trim is done in a dark brown. I have always preferred contemporary style houses myself. I loved this place. I think Gloria did too. She just stood there speechless.
“Doug, if the inside is anything like the outside, I will be truly impressed,” I said. “I would love to own something like this. Wouldn’t you Gloria?”
“Are you kidding,” she said. “This is one of the nicest homes I have ever seen. The view and land is spectacular,” she added.
“Come on inside,” said Doug as he grabbed our bags out of the trunk of his car. “I know you must be exhausted. I show you around and let you get settled.”
We moved inside into a beautiful tile covered foyer with a spiral staircase off to the left. Doug said it went to a loft room where he had a little recording studio. There was also a second bedroom with a full bath down the hall from there. I excused myself and Doug showed Gloria the rest of the downstairs. He had an 8 channel Yamaha mixing board with every type of recorder made including an old 3440 Teac open reel recorder. He had a number of Shure microphones, an old Crown DC 300 A amp, a Bryston amp and pre-amp hooked up to a pair of JBL 4312 monitor speakers, a pair of keyboards from Yamaha and Korg, and 2 computers, an HP and an Apple with some ProTools boxes on the floor below. Two very nice Martin guitars where on stands next to the wall.
I stopped drooling over the gear and joined them downstairs. I went in the direction of the voices and found them in the kitchen where Doug had poured three glasses of Coke. He looked up as I came in.
“I don’t think I’m going back,” I decided. “I’d love to have a set up like your recording studio upstairs I say,” flattering Doug. “When I get moved into a place of my own…”
“No problem,” said Doug. “If you want some help with gear let me know.”
We sat on some stools at the island-table to have our drinks and marvel at the view out across his deck. The back of Doug’s house was mostly glass with good reason. The sloping back yard stopped at a tree line about 200 feet back from the house. I’d bet the sunset is spectacular out here.
“Sometimes I just come out here late at night and sit, just looking out into the night,” said Doug. “It is so peaceful out here. I love the night quiet. Some people are afraid to live out here as there are some bobcats in the area, but when there is no moon it is so black you can hardly see your hand in front of your face. Some nights there are so many stars in the sky it is almost scary.”
“Chris is coming out here around 2pm,” said Doug. “I took the liberty of tipping her off a little bit. She was a little surprised someone from Connecticut would come all the way to talk to her. She didn’t say no, which I thought was a great sign.”
“You’re a little bit of a daredevil aren’t you,” I offer. “You could have really blown our cover.”
“I think I know Chris pretty well,” adds Doug. “She is not totally unreasonable.”
“Come on, I’ll show you your rooms and you can unpack when you want,” said Doug. “Gloria come on down here and you can have the downstairs room. It’s bigger and has more privacy. Bill you can have the room upstairs off the studio and you can listen to music as you like.”
He takes Gloria down the hall and gets her off on her own. He comes back sown the hallway.
“Come on up stairs,” says Doug as he motions for me to follow. “I bought this new Jolida tube CD player I’ve dying to listen to. $900, but I hear it is worth every penny. The salesman threw in two new CD’s: David Sanborn and Jennifer Warnes. Don’t know either one, but hear they are very good. I think she won some Grammys maybe.”
Within 10 minutes we have Sanborn playing his brains out up in the loft. That CD player through the JBL’s was something. He said the old recorders were his Dad but was not going to part with them as they all worked great. He also had an all tube MacIntosh amp and preamp that powered another set of JBLs. It was near the best sound I’d ever heard. My Dad had an older Mac integrated amp, but it was not like this. It was good, but not this good. I could tell I was not getting much sleep tonight with these toys sitting around.
The phone rings and I hear Doug answer it. I sense it is Chris. He comes back to the loft.
“Chris can’t come until tomorrow morning, but she is still coming,” said Doug. “She got caught in a bio lab she just can’t get out of.” “I told her tomorrow would be fine. She’ll be here by 5am, so be ready.”
We listened to music long into the night. Doug had another pair of JBL 4310’s down in the living room that faced the deck so that he could sit out there and still hear his tunes. Very nice. This was turning out to be a great visit to California. More resting than I thought. I could sense that Gloria was having a very nice time as well.
I awoke to the smell of fresh coffee. It was coming from downstairs. I then realized that I had fallen asleep in the LazyBoy in the studio listening to music. Stereophile magazine was lying open across my lap. I slid forward closing the recliner and went into the bathroom down the hall in the bedroom I was supposed to sleep in. I threw some cold water on my face, stripped and jumped into the shower real fast.
I took the fastest shower and shave on record and quickly got dressed and went down stairs. I found Gloria in the kitchen.
“Don’t you ever take a day off,” I ask? She was pulling a carton of eggs from the fridge. She jumped and almost dropped the eggs on the floor.
“Don’t you ever knock,” she asked getting her breath. “You want me to have a heart attack or something,” she adds?
“No, and I don’t like my eggs scrambled by the drop-kick method either,” I inform her. I go over to her and take the eggs from her hands and give a warm, tender kiss, as good as I know how to give early in the morning.
“Well that’s better,” she says. “I think my heart will be fine now,” she adds. “Just as long as you don’t intend to break it later on.”
“Not me,” I said matter of factly. “Not in a million years.” \
“Please, it’s too early in the morning for this conversation. Go sit down and drink your coffee and I make your breakfast,” Gloria instructs. “If you don’t do as I say I’ll kiss you again and turn you back into a frog.”
“I’m sitting, I’m sitting,” I plead. “I’d rather be your prince any day.”
I sit quietly and look at the beautiful, morning view off the deck. I could get used to this in a hurry I think. I just needed to get traded to the Dodgers and I’d be all set. Like that was going to happen.
I hear Doug coming down the hall from his room. He is all dressed in a very nice suit and tie. Business is calling. Gloria offers him some coffee which he accepts. He joins me at the counter.
“Hey Bill I hope you didn’t mind me leaving you upstairs last night. I tired to wake you, but you were really out,” Doug said. “That is chair is pretty comfortable, especially when you’re really tired. I’ve slept their many a night myself.”
“No problem,” I reply. ‘Looks like you’re prepared to make some big bucks today?”
“Ya, I’ve got a client we have been trying to land for two years and he has agreed to meet me this morning,” Doug admits. I’m thinking he has some current supplier problems as he has kept me at bay for quite some time. We’ll see what today brings.”
“You want some breakfast before you take off,” I ask?
“I’ll be glad to make you something, Doug,” Gloria offers. “It would be no trouble and take only a minute. After all you are doing for us it is the least I can do.”
“No, I’m fine. You guys go ahead and eat,” says Doug. “This is more that I usually do any way. Chris will be here in an hour. I hope all goes well. Here’s my cell phone number if you need me.
Gloria drops some scrambled eggs onto my plate. She puts the pan into the sink and heads off to get dressed. We really don’t have much time.
Doug offers to fill me in a little bit on Chris and Jon. It seems that Chris and Jon met at a beach party three weeks before he left to join the Monarch’s A team in Florida. They hit it off right away. Here was this rowdy, fun loving guy and here was Chris Milton, little Miss Prim and Proper. Chris never fooled around in high school with anyone She dated a couple of guys off and on, but nothing serious. She was valedictorian of her class and always planned on majoring in Micro-Biology. She was a junior at USC when they met.
She took 12 hour in summer school that summer, and then carried 20 hours of classes the fall semester to graduate early so she could be with Jon in the spring. Now she was working on her Masters Degree. Doug thought she might end up being a professional student if Jon made plenty of money playing ball. He really thought she would end up doing research most likely. Jon was a great letter writer and wrote her at least twice a week when they were apart. I think Jon knew what a catch Chris was and they got married before he went to Connecticut last year. That is why none of this made any sense to Doug.
I told Doug that Jon was playing very well and doing all the things to get to New York. His personal life is a mess and he thinks everyone or someone has be out to sabotage his marriage, so he stays completely away from everyone, and mostly dislikes me just because I am staying with the Lollars and what happed between his sister and Bob Lollar. Doug heard about that. Gloria had just come back into the kitchen looking as great as ever.
As Doug finished speaking the door bell rang. He got up and it was his sister, Chris. He ushered her into the kitchen and introduced us.
“Chris, I’d like you to meet Gloria James and Bill Alan,” stated Doug. “Bill, Gloria, this is my sister, Chris.”
We all shook hands and took places at the kitchen bar. Doug excused himself and headed out the door.
“Gloria and Bill, why don’t you tell me what this is all about,” She asked. “I know you didn’t come out here for a day and a half on a lark. It must be important for you to come see me.”
“Chris, maybe I should begin by telling you that I play ball with Jon on the Monarchs and Jon has been in a foul mood ever since I showed up,” I began. “The fact that I was living with the Lollars didn’t help. I was the new kid in town and the Lollars were kind enough to take me in was great for me. I just didn’t know all the history I was getting into. It was quite a mess as you know. Now I know.”
“Listen, Bill and Gloria, I’m not in the habit of discussing my personal life with strangers,” said Chris. “I think you can understand.”
“Chris,” began Gloria. “We’re here because of me and what I’ve done to you and Jon. I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry and ashamed I am for what I’ve done to you and Jon. I know you think that Jon was unfaithful to you and that was because I am the one who made you believe that. I am the one who called you anonymously, and wrote you those letters actually tell you lies in order to get back at the Tavys for taking my love away, Bob Lollar.”
Tears were rolling down Gloria’s face. She could hardly talk.
“You’re not kidding, are you,” said Chris. “You made those calls and wrote the letters? Why?”
“I was so mad at Cheryl Tavy for what happened on that college recruiting trip that I was beside myself. I had dated Bob Lollar since Jr. High school and we were so in love, at least I was,” Gloria went on. Cheryl Tavy ruined all that. Bob left school, never went to college, joined the Air Force and left me home to fend for my self, just like I was spare baggage or something. She blew my life up right then and there.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Chris. “I’m beginning to understand.
“Your husband, Jon, thought it was a big joke, everyone should just get over,” Gloria continued. “Cheryl Tavy got to. Bob and I did not; at least I didn’t get what I wanted. So I decided to get even with him, not even thinking about you, which was terribly wrong. I was so stupid and that is why were are here, at Bill’s prodding to get me to get this off my chest and try and make amends if possible.” Gloria still had tears coming down her face.
“Gloria, I’m so sorry Jon treated you that way,” Chris said with great sincerity. I knew the story and just never thought anyone had really gotten hurt. I can see how you were, though. I am so sorry.”
“Not as sorry as I am,” replied Gloria. “You’ll never know how sorry I am for causing you all this grief. It was very selfish of me.”
“Maybe,” said Chris, “but I can sure understand it.”
“You are sure taking this well,” I interject. “You’re making this too easy on us. Don’t you want to throw something?”
“Not really my style,” said Chris with a big smile. “So Jon really didn’t do anything with, a, Beth I think her name was?”
“Nothing, just a little lunch, a very harmless lunch. They were just friends as she worked in the Monarch office,” said Gloria fessing up. “It was totally harmless, honest.”
“Oh, Gloria, if I had just gone back and really talked to Jon about this, face to face, probably none of this would have happened anyway,” admitted Chris. “I was thousands of miles away and could have given him the benefit of the doubt, but I didn’t, all because I was listening to my mother tell me to drop the louse right away. She didn’t want us to get married anyway. She wanted me to marry some lawyer like she did. How stupid of me.”
Chris pulled a cigarette out of her purse and laid it on the counter. She reached out of her purse and pulled out a Derringer and just looked at it. Gloria and I were getting very nervous. Chris sounded so sincere and calm. Now this.
“Chris, what are you doing,” I asked very nervously? “You could put that away you know?”
“Why would I want to do that, especially after what Gloria has done,” she replied with no expression on her face? “I think she is about to get what she deserves, don’t you?”
With that she pulled the trigger and a flame jumped out from the top of the fake gun that was really a cigarette lighter. She picked up her cigarette and lit it.
“You should see your two faces,” said Chris laughing? “This was the best one ever.”
“Why, you almost gave us heart attacks,” I said. “I was about to jump you off this bar stool, you know!”
“That would have been even funnier, us rolling around on the floor over a cigarette lighter, don’t you think,” she replied, still laughing?
“The color is coming back into your face, nicely,” added Chris. “Yours too, Bill. Well, what do we do now?”
With that, a car comes into the drive way. Chris goes to the door and looks out. Oh, it Mother she tells us, not too happy about it.
“She knows I’m here now,” says Chris. “This should be fun. And you thought this was going to be easy, didn’t you?”