Chapter 21, Blog 3
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
I thought I had hit the lottery. Wishing Rockard happy fishing, I hauled ass over to Michigan City and started to hunt for the right nursing home. There was no Mylar’s. There was no Sylar’s. But there was a Tyler’s Retirement Village. The kooky nurse at the front desk said it was nap time. Could I come back later? How about next week?
Then she chastised me for daring to call her establishment a nursing home.
“It’s an assisted-living facility, sir.”
As I waited for her to look up the room number, my childhood memories cascaded in front of my eyes. I remembered the 1968 Olympics. I remembered them well because they were the first ones I saw. At the Games of Mexico City, 200-meter sprinters Smith and Carlos won gold and bronze medals, respectively. But historically, they were better known for their fist-clenched, Black Power protest on the medal stand. If Nurmi had coached either one, he had to be special.
Or a special nut.
Didn’t matter. I adored those Olympics and wanted a personal link to them. Here was my connection. I had to meet this guy, so I said I was Nurmi’s second cousin all the way from Finland. With the strangest frown imaginable, the nurse straightened and told me his room was the last one on the left. Down the sun-drenched hallway, I skipped. His door was closed, so I started to knock. There was a faint aroma of incense, cherry, I think. Then I smelled …
I pecked on the door. A noisy minute later, it creaked open. A little black head, with big ears flanking a hairless noggin, peered at me through blood-shot eyes. Slowly, he rolled out behind a sky-blue walker with silver racing stripes. He wore a beautiful dark gray suit, possibly Armani. A gold earring completed his masterful ensemble. Hey, was that an ascot around his neck? I thought it was magenta, maybe burgundy.
“You’re smoking pot,” I said.
“And you, sir? Are you a narcotics agent?”
Not waiting for my answer, he rolled in reverse through the doorway and tried to fling the door shut, but I caught it with my foot. He kept rolling. I followed.
“I’m here to see Coach, Coach Nurmi.”
The little man stopped. With a puzzled look, he glared at me.
“What in the name of Hades do you want?”
“You’re the Coach?”
“What? Not impressed? I suppose you are a reporter looking for an angle. I have a suggestion. Go down to the lakefront, and take a long walk off a short pier. I hear the view at the bottom of Lake Michigan is spectacular.”
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang