Chapter 21, Blog 5
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
“We all have glaucoma,” said Claire with a theatrical, all-encompassing wave of her hand. “Or think we do. You know, others wish they did. We do have a waiting list for the club.”
“Don’t make up stuff, Claire,” said Frank. “He might believe you.”
“Did Indiana change the law or something?” I asked, passing the joint to Claire.
“Sir, I will have you know it is perfectly legal in my room,” Nurmi said. “Tyler’s management does encourage periodic attempts at limited socialization.”
“Isn’t he so delicate?” Claire asked. “I mean, I could sit here all day and listen to the bastard.”
“Would you care to enlighten us on the nature of your mission?” Nurmi asked. “Or should we start a game of 20 Questions? This poor bastard would like to know what it is you seek.”
“It was my understanding pot made you mellow,” I whispered to Claire.
“Not Harry,” she giggled. “It just makes him even more verbose and pompous.”
“I said, young man, be a good boy and tell us what you want,” Harry said.
… now or never, bad boy …
“I need a coach,” I said. “I’m trying to qualify for the Olympics. Right now, I need to shave off a few seconds from my best time, but I think I’m stuck on a plateau. Does that answer your question?”
… I see someone else can’t hold his reefer madness …
Everyone turned and stared at Harry, puffing perfect circles. He paused. You could tell he grooved on the attention.
“Yes, I want a coach.”
“That is the most ludicrous thing I have heard all day,” Harry chuckled between puffs. “What? I suppose you consider yourself an athlete?”
“Well, yeah, a runner. Is that so hard to believe?”
“HA! That is a genuine, 100 percent hoot,” Harry bellowed. “This country stopped making runners late last century. They went out of style, you see.”
The record changed with a flop.
“Hey, that’s “Hotel California,’ ” I said. “The Eagles.”
“That’s one of my favorites,” said Claire, taking her turn puffing on the joint. “But Pink Floyd’s good, too.”
“I still like Led Zeppelin,” I said.
“They’re not bad,” Claire said. “What others do you know?”
“Got any Elvis Costello?”
“What is this?” asked Harry. “Music Appreciation class?”
“Oh, Harry, coach the poor boy,” said Claire. “He’s not a bad guy.”
Everyone turned toward Harry again. He sat up and stared at me.
“Why should I? I do not know the first thing about him, do I? I do not know what he intends to run.”
“That’s easy,” I said. I’m sure I was stoned. “The 800, the 800 meters.”
“That’s a sprint, isn’t it?” Claire asked. “I just love sprints.”
“The 800?” asked Harry. “I am afraid the 800 is a race for real men. It is no sprint.”
“Oh, you’re so technical,” said Claire.
“What makes you think you could compete meaningfully in the 800?” Harry asked.
“Because I CAN,” I asserted under a growing buzz.
Except for the Eagles, the room fell silent.
“We shall see,” said Harry.
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang