"He’s due up fourth. We’ll see Mister Bonds this inning if just one hitter gets aboard."
Bumper Morgan nodded. Yessiree, this kid’s is A-Okay. Young Vin Hodges’ rap kept growing on him. He might make it one day, thought Bumper. And he truly hoped so. He admired the kid’s preparation, his work ethic, his poise. And yes, his equipment.
"Yes! Yes, she’s back! Come to Poppa. Take a seat, dearest." Poor Sammy couldn’t know that the next few minutes would probably be his last, cupping the hot model-anchor.
"Get after it, Sammy," said the Pistol. "Besides her jiggle that’s making you shake, that woman has the perfect face for television."
And you, Johnny Boy, have the perfect face for radio, thought Phil Sage.
Sammy shuddered like a newborn when Kuni indeed blessed him as she turned to fill in Bumper. "Never met her," he replied, "but I know of her. Good eats up there in the boxes, too, and the price is right. Hah. But first let’s see if Bonds hits this inning, then we can roll."
"The Book Of Virtues, by Bill Clinton." Butler was cackling louder and louder over his thin book titles. The titles were amusing Phil Sage, too. He hadn’t heard that one. Weeks before, he had overheard about the thin one from Hillary: Things I Truly Respect and Love about Bill.
"Clinton!" Izzy sounded disgusted. "Kennedy beds Marilyn. And Bill, the most powerful man on the planet? He chooses a frumpy kid who couldn’t quicken the heartbeat of an iguana."
"Izzy perked up. "Kennedy threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Washington all three years he was in office, including the season when old Griffith Stadium was closed down. And in 1962 when the Senators moved into D. C. Stadium."
"What year did you say," needled The Pistol.
"Old chaste Clinton threw out the first pitch to start the 2000 season," said Sammy, "right here at brand-spanking’ new Pac Bell Park."
"If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live."
"Right you are, Sammy Boy," said Phil. "Harvard commencement, 1956, Cambridge, Mass."
"Thimeethomethinktothrink. Thimeethomthinktothrink," ordered Will E. Brown.
"What’s that? Oh. Would you like something to drink, dear?" grinned Nurse Boxer.
Yep, the Thursday afternoon Daily Guardian and the Friday morning Chron, had most certainly told the tale in rosier terms than the nurses and doctors attending to Will E. Brown at Good Sam.
Dana Boudin the Money Machine, and his longtime pal, caught the prop plane to Lanai with ease. Cool Cole Kelly came within a Seattle second of missing his flight to SFO. But that was quite alright. He had taken a phone call. Now, he had a phone call to make. But of course, cell phone use was prohibited on Flight 113.
Suddenly, a different phone screeched!
"London calling! London Calling!"
The Clash blasted from the Samsung that Boomer Boudin had set on the bar an hour earlier. His buddy, the younger Stangl, was down the bar, boring Kelly Somebody to tears. But Rocky Ocean perched right alongside Boomer.
The President of Hawaii’s largest bank, Bank of Hawaii, often golfed with Boomer’s dad. When he had come to the big chair, the president had inherited the accounts of four different broadcasters, all of whom he golfed with. For that reason, he had assigned each golf buddy his own Bankoh vice-president. The VP who now crafted young Boomer’s financial deals had financed several ventures for the Boudins over the years. Now, he was getting back to Boomer, as promised.
Two years earlier, the veep had been reluctant to fund a certain California broadcaster but it turned out the interloper had known someone higher up the bank’s food chain. The guy was probably a board member. Against his recommendation, Boomer’s banker buddy had been ordered to finance the Californian, Wally Detts. Detts had signed a deal with the bank to finance two Kauai FM permits. He had quickly built out the permits, and almost as soon as he signed each on-air, he began to hemorrhage money. Many a broadcaster has swooped down on Hawaii to vainly demonstrate to what they perceived to be minor league local competitors, the real way to run media operations. Mr. Detts had proven to be a classic example.
Funny thing about radio. The trick is to bring in more money than goes out. This basic tenet is often compromised, or crashed and burned, by the programming side that fears the station’s draining dollars will stifle creativity, or by managers or owners who fail to see the value of investing in its talent in order to create a more viable product to market. Mr. Detts, the defaulting party, had come from the engineering side of the biz which in a way, led him to default both artistically and on the bean counting side.
Now, Rocky Ocean leaned in to catch snippets of the conversation. Before he could pick up on much, Boomer rose, turned, then took a step back, then flashed a two hundred-watt grin. The conversation continued. Then, Boomer turned again. He switched his cell to his left hand and stiffened his right one to offer Rocky Ocean a high-five. "Green grass and high tides. Green grass and high tides," he whispered. Rocky Ocean didn’t know beans about the business side, but whenever his boss lit up like he just had, even a rock could sense that high times were ahead. Time to call Bumper?
Smoky had told her he was already late and scooted away so Fanny now stood alone trying to shore up. She had proffered her tray for a top-off but the new guy Speedo was overwhelmed getting used to Smoky’s set-up, so he didn’t notice the thin, glistening stream of tears. She eyed her full tray, shook her head, blew a full breath then headed back.
The Giants had been set down 1-2-3, so Barry Bonds had been stranded in the on deck circle. Time to head up to sample some fine grinds. "Free grinds, the best kine grinds," winked Bumper in his best Hawaiian pidgin.
Kuni returned his wink.
In the blink of a seat’s eye, Sammy the Seat was free-falling into deep depression when he realized that Kuni and Bumper were deserting him again. Now, well, now he felt empty inside. Izzy had snoozed throughout the developments.
"I Will Play Every Golf Course in Florida to Find the Real Killers." Butler was pretty sure he caught the drift.
"O. J. Simpson!" Turbo was catching on to this game, alright. Phil Sage wondered if playing every course might defy the theme of Butler’s book. Still, he had smiled like an approving uncle.
This allusion to NFL football, reminded him of a line that none of his seatmates had heard. "True story," he began. "Joe Theisman actually said this on a TV broadcast." Joe Theisman was a star quarterback who had turned to broadcasting upon retirement. "’Nobody in football should be called a genius,’ he truly said. ’A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.’"
"Running on half a brain is often a perquisite to segueing from the field to the booth," declared Sammy the Seat.
"I can top that." Hey. Who woke Izzy? "New Orleans running back George Rodgers was asked one year about the upcoming season. ’I want to rush for a 1,000 yards or 1,500, whichever comes first.’"
Fanny appeared to Phil’s right as he was saying, "When Joe Jacobi said he would run over his own mother to win the Super Bowl, Matt Millen said, ’to win, I’d run over Joe’s mom, too.’"
Fanny had to admit that she too, felt as though she had been run over. Run over by a bus. She tried valiantly to suck it up.
"Hey kid, you look as though you’ve been run over by a bus." Rare, when Phil Sage misspoke, though no fault of his own.
"Stomach, Phil. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t have smeared so much sauerkraut on my Polish."
"Come on. This is good old Phil. What’s up, girl?"
Fanny couldn’t muster words. So she turned, playfully elbowed Vinny Hodges, then immediately was hit with pangs of guilt. Her idea how to shock and awe young Vin had been lost in all her turmoil. She playfully whacked his elbow.
"Hey, watch it. Almost clobbered my mic." Vin broke wide into a jack-o-lantern grin to show that he was only joking. Make the babes laugh, gets ’em every time. He had read that somewhere.
Phil Sage was no jack-o-lantern. No way he could smile. Something had gone terribly wrong with his Fanny.
"Hooha." Bobby G clapped Bumper Morgan on his back as the Lead Dawg trailed Kuni Noyori into the sky box, sure enough, second on the left off the elevator. And it sure wasn’t the KFAN sky box. Jewel Goldman had invited them to join her in the vast and posh box belonging to Cheaters. Bobby had been hanging closer to the door than to Head Cheat because Jewel, who scared him almost to tears, had already closed in on Head. Since that moment when she had gone limp as a jellyfish in his hug, his instinct, sober or not, told him to steer clear.
Kuni excused herself to head over toward Jewel. The two Dawgs rolled toward the bar. "What’s up, Slick?"
"Nothing but good, Bump. Good thing you wore your best duds to step up into the sky boxes. What brings you up here? Trying to show that TV Man’s gal a swell time? Don’t forget, not only is she already betrothed, she’s also Ming’s cousin. You’re the last guy I’d want for a bro-in-law. Hooha."
"Cousin-in-law, and nah, I came for the eats. The woman over there filling out her Hilfiger’s like Loni Anderson, invited us up. Seems they are fast friends from the islands."
"I need to stay close to her because TV Man was supposed to call my cell, like, like quite a while ago. Hope he does soon, and I hope he has good news. She’s a real nice person."
Bobby frowned. He was a radio salesman. He was only loosely familiar with the expression, "real nice person."
Eeeeeeyow! The cry of a blonde 1959 Duo-Sonic guitar in the hands of Jimi Hendrix, strafed the room. "Are you experienced? Have you ever been, experienced?" Bumper reached for his cell. Kuni Noyori spun in a heartbeat to home in on the bar.
Bumper saw her so he immediately raised an open palm her way and shook his head, no. Kuni’s shoulders plummeted. It wasn’t Cool Cole. The Islands were calling. "Yo, Rocky. What’s the good word?" Bumper drifted down the bar for a snatch of quiet.
Everyone in the box had heard Johnny Allen Hendrix light the place up, but they had quickly returned to what they had been doing. But not Jewel Goldman. She walked toward Kuni, who stood frozen like she was a skinny University of Hawaii tailback come helmet to helmets before the entire Cleveland Browns defensive line. "Hey darling," said Jewel when she reached her. "Hang in there. He’ll call as soon as his flight lands. Cole’s a lock for each of those jobs."
Jewel Goldman’s Hilfiger’s wiggling away was a stupendous, yet saddening sight, but it had given him an out. Head Cheat stepped out onto the landing of the booth. He spied his buddy Barry Bonds juggling a couple bats. "Come on, partner. Let’s give away ten million dollars."
"Hey, where’ve you been, Sport?" Head asked this, when he offered Bobby G one of the stuffed olives that he had just plucked off the tray that the waiter in the throwback Giants jersey had served up out on the sky box deck. Bobby eyeballed the deck warily. "I thought maybe you took a ’Jamison,’ down in the Cheater seats."
A "Jamison" was a scary thing. It was named for Lee Jamison, a crack salesman at KMEL radio, The Kamel, back when it was the Bay Area station for rock ’n roll in the late 70s to mid 80s. In 1984, Major League Baseball played its all-star game at Candlestick Park. KMEL had box seats galore in those days, but the favored ones were the half dozen directly up from third base in row sixteen. Customarily, one could find Lee Jamison holding court from the aisle seat.
Tito Ferranti did not attend court, even though he could regularly be found on the aisle of row fifteen, seated directly in front of Jamison. Ferranti had been hustling ads for Doctor Don at KFRC so long that the biz had driven him to drink. And drink, and drink. (There’s, something new for a radio salesman) On June 10, 1984, the mid-summer All Star classic was cause for much celebration. And celebrate the gang from KFRC had.
So, up to the plate strides Steve Garvey. A Dodger! Wouldn’t you know it? Garvey fouls one off then takes a ball, then swings hard and vainly at strike two. His next swing spun a side-winding missile of a foul ball that zipped toward the seats behind third like an atom whistling through the Stanford Linear Accelerator. Many fans too drunk to stand, didn’t. Some fans that were even more drunk, rose. Ferranti and Jamison had swayed to their feet like midshipmen at closing hour.
The foul ball had homed in on Ferranti’s skull. Miraculously, a teensy synapse within that skull had concluded that his daintily manicured salesman hands were incapable of protecting him. Suddenly, before he became a human piñata, he ducked back into his aisle seat as if he had seen Mike Tyson coming at him from across the ring. The ball whizzed past his seat-top. When it hit the cement beneath Lee Jamison, the errant shot rebounded upward at a very sharp angle right at Lee Jamison’s fly. A painfully sharp angle. It was at an angle that Lee Jamison could never have deciphered. Especially, once he lay sprawled atop Ferranti in row fifteen. Although he faced downward, he had no doubt that he saw more stars than Captain Kirk had ever seen. Lee Jamison’s squeal could have made the soundtrack for Deliverance.
"Thimethit? Wudthimethit! Thellme!"
"It’s nearly eight-thirty, Mr. Brown."
"Thwat? Thuhcant be. Thideye ahyareddydomytho?"
"You want what, sir?"
"I think," nurse Boxer said to the specialist, "he said something about his six o’clock newscast."
"Yeth! Yeth!" Brown’s eyes radiated like the eyes of a spaceman in a bad 1950’s movie.
"When the intern peeked in yesterday, she told me that Will E. Brown had not missed a single newscast in almost eight years. Not one."
Brown shook his swollen head up and down so hard that the anchor gasped and very nearly choked.
"Well," the doctor responded, "if he ever wants to present another thixthcloknewzcath, he better find an audio company that specializes in self-correcting microphones."
Nurse Boxer turned her cheek to hide a smile.
"Okay, the specialist continued, "you’ve pulled yeoman duty, Boxer. Now get out of here. It’s Friday night. Get snazzed up, go out and break some fellow’s heart."
Broad smile. "I’ll take you up on the first part of that. See you Monday, Doctor"
"See you Monday." The doctor clicked shut Brown’s chart, gave the anchor one last look, turned to smile, then he walked away.
Will E. Brown hyperventilated. What happened to me? Why am I speaking this way? What did that doc say? Friday night? What’s wrong with me? I speak like a guy high on malt liquor panhandling change on Market Street. I feel as though I have been hit by a bus.
Ever since he’d clicked shut his phone, Bumper Morgan felt as though he was skipping along clouds, walking hand in hand with Gabriel. He was sailing along clouds thrust by the trade winds that breezed toward the islands. Green grass and high tides!
"Hey there." It was Kuni. "Good phone call?"
"Good phone call," he sighed. "Excellent phone call. Awesome phone call."
"You must be the infamous Bumper." It was Jewel Goldman. She had squeezed between the two. Bumper didn’t hear her whisper excitedly to Kuni to come out onto the landing with her as soon as she might. "Run something past you."
"First, let me hear Bumper’s good news, then I’ll join you."
So, she became the first soul to hear Bumper’s heavenly news.