An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Chapter 41, Blog 1

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


The press conference that followed spun into a green and yellow University of Oregon blur. My inquisitors demanded to know why dogs could scare me into running like Carl Lewis. So I told the story of how I outran Cujo when he threatened to turn me into dog food. I told it at least a dozen times. My audience was incredulous. All but the Los Angeles Times guy in the front row began to cackle at the absurdity. Instead, he fixated on obtaining a certified copy of my birth certificate for his doubting editor.

I would have to call Melinda to fax it.

Or better, she could bring it. I needed to call her.

… she’ll never believe this …

“I don’t believe it!”

The reporters also appreciated my abbreviated tango with Mr. Genesee. After all, every story needs a bad guy, they said.

The rest of the show featured my coach. Rightfully, Harry took credit for getting me a second chance – again. As soon as I sprawled on the track, he lobbied the Trials chiefs for a do-over. He knew all about Nicole Teter and the three others who fell in the women’s 800 – and advanced to the final. I, too, would get one more race.

But, there was a catch. The chiefs said Franz and another had complained about the guys Harry hired to “motivate” me. There would be no more barking, they said. Harry promised to obey. At that point, I didn’t care. The minute I was done, I called Melinda.

“Forget what it costs,” I yelled into the phone. “You get the kids and get out here. Now!”

I winked at Harry.

“Use the damn Master Card. I don’t care what it costs. Maybe you can extort the diaper company for some more money,” I said. “How many times am I going to run in an Olympic Trials final?”

Harry tugged at my sleeve.

“Yeah, yeah. Harry’s lonely. Bring Dedra, too.”

Late Sunday afternoon, we picked up my fan club, complete with assistant coaches Ralphie and Nicky, at the Eugene airport. Uncle Fred was there, too.

Uncle Fred?

“What the hell is he doing here?” I whispered to Melinda as I hoisted her two massive pieces of luggage off the carousel.

“Hon, you will never … ”

“Enough is enough,” I said. “I don’t know who he thinks he is.”

“Charles, he …”

“Is he threatening you?”

“You’re close,” said Melinda. “He paid for everyone’s plane ticket.”

“I don’t care what he paid for,” I said and then let my brain catch up. “He what?”

Melinda slowly shook her head yes.

“And he got us rooms at the Hilton.”

Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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