Chapter 41, Blog 2
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
The gears in my head locked. My mouth hung open, and my tonsils flapped in the wind.
“You can close your trap now, Hon.”
“Why the hell did Uncle Fred do that?”
“You will have to ask him,” said Melinda. “He won’t tell me anything. Just says how proud he is of you. He wanted to do something.”
I went over to Uncle Fred and extended my hand. He shook it heartily.
“Thank you for making the trip,” I said.
“The journey is all my pleasure,” he replied. “I would not have missed it for the world.”
“I appreciate what you did, but we can’t accept it,” I said. “It wouldn’t be right.”
“I knew you would say that,” said Uncle Fred with a smile. “I made reservations for Beijing, too.”
… what a freakin’ nut, he MUST be relation …
“Omigod, I think you’re jumping the gun, Fred.”
“Could be, but I made sure they’re cancelable, just in case,” he said. “I won’t have to cancel them, will I?”
“The way I feel, you better get on the phone now.”
“Should I call my bookie, too?”
“Don’t even go there,” I said.
It came out during dinner at Skinner’s that Fred had financed the tickets and hotel rooms with his “winnings” from betting on me. I suppose Las Vegas odds makers took one look at my age and decided like most, a snowball had a better chance of making the final. I still didn’t know much about him, but now I wondered what exactly Fred did for a living. He did know a few more long-lost tales from my childhood and was delighted to tell them.
Sunday night, I couldn’t sleep. The phone kept jangling. Ralphie and Nicky drank and told stories. Harry told stories. Uncle Fred kept asking how I felt …
“You’re not betting on me again, are you?” I asked.
“No, no, of course not,” he said. “That’s too much pressure.”
… he’s bet the farm …
Was it a mistake to bring everyone to Eugene? It didn’t matter. Thanks to the media, everyone in town knew me and my story. On Monday, they couldn’t wait to prove it. Everyone – my new best friend was anyone over 50 – wanted to wish me luck. I knew I should have been grateful they gave a damn.
But it was a freak show, and I was the star. Every question, gesture or cough annoyed me in my sleep-deprived state.
… being famous sucks. Who can stand it …
All I wanted was to center myself, maybe take a nap. Instead, I teetered on the edge. Forget the final. The real question was could I make it through the day without killing someone?
Ask Uncle Fred. He was giving 5-2 odds in favor of murder.
Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang