Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
Book 5 - New York Revisited
Chapter 102 No cleats
With a grin, I added, “I hope she didn’t believe you.”
“She knew I was joking.”
“I had better get back to the program.”
I left Dashiell at the table, walked to the piano, and sat down on the bench, which quieted the guests.
I pulled the mike to me.
“I have a few requests, ‘Cool Water’ by Vaughn Monroe & The Sons of The Pioneers, ‘Peg O' My Heart’ by The Harmonicats, and ‘The Too Fat Polka’.”
I played the requests and started the next set of the top twenty, adding some rock and roll and two Elvis tunes.
Ollie rose to the occasion of Elvis’ tunes and performed to the delight of the entire room.
At the fifth from the top, I rose and went to the Hammond, where a service cart sat, sporting my glass, half-full of house wine. I borrowed some ice from a nearby ice bucket, filled my glass with it, and sat at the Hammond, pulling the mike to me.
“I hope everyone’s having a nice time.”
I raised my glass, and leaned into the mike.
“À votre santé! To your health!”
I sipped my wine, wiped my lips with a napkin, and leaned forward to address the microphone.
“I have a couple of requests, ‘To Each His Own’, ‘How Are Things In Glocca Morra’, and ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’.”
After the requests, I turned to the mike, “Here comes the last of the top twenty. Dance the night away.”
I played the remaining few tunes at the top of the top-twenty.
The clock read 10:20.
“It’s getting to be that time…”
I interrupted myself, by played a few more bars of something, then I stopped and leaned toward the microphone, suspended over the Hammond.
“For our birthdays, Mis’ess Billingsley, Mis’ess Marshall, Mis’ess Willamet, and Mister Quincy, here’s the Birthday song.”
I played it three times with a long bridging key change between, giving arthritic Mister Quincy time to partner with each of the three Birthday ladies.
At the end of each dance, the guests applauded heartily.
“Here’s The Anniversary Waltz for Mister and Mis’ess Abraham Shazzy.”
I bridged and repeated it one more time.
They, too, received a round of applause from the dance crowd.
“And now, my friends and relations, it’s time to say goodnight.”
I played ‘Goodnight, Irene’.
“Good night and I’ll Be Seeing You.”
I played ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, ending the last chorus, ever so quietly.
Softly, I said, “Goodnight to you, all, with love.”
I turned off the Hammond and Leslies and rose from the organ bench.
The crowd applauded. I turned and bowed. I saw some misty eyes in the Grand Ballroom, warming my heart.
I closed the covers to the organ and piano, and returned to my table to relax with Dashiell, Louis, and Ollie.
Two reds arrived at our table with two gigantic sprays of flowers and they presented them to me. I rose, accepted the floral arrangements, bowed to the audience, humbly clapping to them. I was so appreciative.
The flowers were set on the floor before the table.
Shortly afterward, the guests dissipated to their nightly endeavors and Dashiell, the boys, and I went up the elevator to our suites.
I followed the boys into their room to make sure they settled down for the night.
As soon as I sat on the bed, I noticed the scent.
“Ollie. Come here.”
He approached me. I sniffed… Nothing.
He approached. I sniffed, pulled my handkerchief, and sneezed.
“Wow. Louis. That’s powerful. You were dancing with a dolly, tonight with a bucket of perfume and some of it splashed over on to you.”
“I don’t smell anything,” he retorted, somewhat astonished.
“Ollie and I smell it,” I asserted.
Ollie’s head bobbed.
“Louis,” I said, pointing to the bathroom.
“Go wash off the flowers. Lots of soap and water. Ollie, you help him. Lots of soap and water.”
I rose to leave, stopping by the door.
“No fooling around. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
I crossed the hallway, to 401. The flowers had arrived from the Grand Ballroom and sat in the sitting room. Dashiell lounged on the balcony, facing the golf course.
“Did you smell Louis?” I asked.
“No. He was dancing, most of the night.”
“He was perfumed by a matron skunk,” I said.
“The worst kind,” he said, laughing.
“They’re both in the shower, now, hopefully getting deodorized, and not just fooling around.”
“I told them I would be back in a few minutes.”
“In one ear and out the other.”
“Not our boys,” I said.
“All they know is they’re in the shower and the water’s running. That means play in the water.”
“Remember when we used to sit on the floor of the shower with the water running, catch water in our cupped hands, and fling it at each other?”
He left a rhetorical pause.
“That was fun.”
“I think I’ll check in on the water works across the hallway.”
I left Dashiell to his Jersey flora contemplations and returned to 400. As soon as I opened the door, the sound of the boys, being boys, clarified what I didn’t need to see. I sat on the bed for a while and enjoyed the howls from the bathroom, remembering the times when Dashiell and I did the same thing… when we knew Aunt Odie wasn’t within earshot of hearing us.
The bathroom marble tiles blended the two voices and the splashing waters into a lively cacophony.
“In the shower,” I thought, “it must be extraordinarily loud; so much the better for boys. Loudness is a valued asset, when having boy fun, especially when verboten.”
A spell of silence marked the end of playtime.
The stark silence was broken, when Ollie said, “We had better get out of here. Jean-Claude will be back, soon.”
“Nah. He’s talking to Dashiell. You know they’ll talk all night…”
The water stopped.
“Do I still stink?” Louis asked.
“I don’t smell anything.”
I tiptoed my way into the hallway, closing the door quietly behind me.
I waited a short while, waiting to hear voices inside. I heard nothing. I opened the door, went in, sat on the couch in the sitting room, and called, “Are you, guys, cleaned up yet?”
“Louis came out, naked, into the sitting room.
“Ollie said I don’t stink.”
“Come here. Let me smell.”
He approached me, on the couch. I leaned forward and sniffed.
He spun, emulating Ollie’s pseudo ballet moves.
“Not so fast.”
He turned slowly.
“Excellent. No stink.”
“You better check Ollie to make sure I didn’t get the stink on him.”
He called into the bathroom, “You need checking, too, Ollie.”
Ollie came into the room, still dripping wet and smelling of toothpaste.
“I don’t stink,” he announced.
Louis said, “You better check him, anyway. If he stinks, I don’t want it, rubbing off on me, in the night.”
Louis moved away, making room in front of me for Ollie to revolve for a sniff test.
Louis pulled his towel over his shoulders, like a cleric’s cape.
“Okay. Did you learn anything, Louis?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Try this… when the smell is too strong, dancing is wrong.”
The boys’ laughed and it got to me. I laughed, too.
“You get the message?”
Ollie went into the dressing room to put on his pajamas, Louis returned to the bathroom to brush his teeth, and I went into the bedroom and looked out the balcony window.
Ollie arrived and was baffled by where to get into the round bed.
“Which way do I get in it?”
“Any way you like.”
He still didn’t budge, apparently wary of making a mistake.
I sat on the bed and patted the comforter.
“Come… sit here for a minute.”
Ollie, relieved of making an inappropriate entry into the bed, sat beside me.
Louis arrived from the dressing room in his pajamas.
I patted the bed, beside me.
“Sit down. We need to have a little talk before we go to bed.”
Puzzled, he sat down.
“Okay. I know you’ll go out on the balcony, after I go to bed. I expect you to go out there for a while and then come back inside and go to bed. Do we understand each other?”
I stood up.
“Into the bed.”
Louis pulled the comforter up and three pillows fell on the floor.
“There’re five other pillows.”
I pointed. “Into the bed.”
Louis slid into the bed, and Ollie followed, curling up against Louis, who pulled Ollie to him. Ollie pulled the comforter up to his chin. With Louis’ help, Ollie had managed to find a way into the round bed.
I sat on the side of the bed again… Ollie against my hip.
“One more thing. Tomorrow, we are going to a ball game at Yankee Stadium… only if you, guys, get enough sleep. Spending the afternoon and night at the ballpark with two cranky boys is no fun for Dashiell and me. If you’re cranky, no night at the ball park.”
I looked in Louis’ eyes,
My gaze shifted to Ollie.
“Okay. Good night, Louis.”
I bent and kissed his forehead.
“Good night, Jean-Claude.”
He kissed my cheek.
“Good night, Ollie,” I said, with a kiss to Ollie’s forehead.
“Good night, Jean-Claude,” he said, wrapping an arm around my neck, and kissing my cheek.
I rose, turned off the light, closed the door behind me, and I was going to stay by the door and listen.
My heart said, “You must learn to trust them.”
My head screamed at me, as I crossed the hallway, went into 401, and closed the door exceptionally loudly, leaving it unlatched, in case of a thunderstorm. I turned the lights off as I proceeded to the bedroom, where, under the comforter, Dashiell had curled up, waiting for me.
“What was all that about?” he asked hearing me approach.
“I told them tomorrow is going to be a long day. Don’t sit on the balcony all night or they will be cranky tomorrow. If they’re cranky tomorrow, they’re not having a night out at Yankee Stadium.”
“You’re cruel,” you know they won’t get in bed until they fall off the seats on the balcony.
“I have to trust them. They trust me.”
“They’re kids. They only see what’s in front of them.”
“Then, they will learn, won’t they?”
“Yes, they will,” he said, pulling me to him, and so will you.”
With that said, he added, ‘Good night, Jean-Claude.”
“Good night, Dashiell.”
Our old round bed quickly performed its old magic.
I awoke when I heard two voices.
Louis and Ollie flew into the bedroom and slid under the comforter, Louis quivering against me, and Ollie quivering against him. Ollie pulled my arm over him and held on to it, beneath the comforter.
“What’s the matter? It’s not raining…”
“You tell him, Louis. I’m too scared.”
“We were on the balcony and something screamed at us from in the trees. It was awful scary. We ran in the bedroom, locked the door behind us, and jumped into bed, under the comforter, and it screamed again. Now, I can’t sleep. I’m afraid.’
I felt Dashiell’s belly shaking against my back, as he quietly laughed, behind me.
“You heard a bird… now go to sleep.”
“A bird?” Louis asked.
Ollie added, “A monster bird.”
“No. It’s not a monster bird. It’s smaller than a chicken. It’s a screech owl. It eats bugs. It’s harmless, unless you’re a beetle.”
“Now go to sleep. You’re perfectly safe. No monster birds are going to get you.”
“That was scary,” Ollie said.
“Only if you don’t know what was making the noise. When we go to the zoo, you can see some those owls, there, and you’ll see what scared you and laugh.”
Ollie whispered, “I won’t laugh.”
I pulled the boys against me.
Dashiell added, “Good night.”
I thought I heard the morning train chugging in the distance. I listened. There were one long and two short blasts of the horn.
I woke. I knew something was wrong. I stayed still, with my eyes closed; trying to evaluate, where my dream ended, and reality began.
I heard the horn again. The tone shifted as it passed the station. I could have sworn I heard a chugging locomotive. Part of me, my fantasy self, wanted to go to the window, to make sure the locomotive was not there, happily spewing ash and fire into the night sky. I didn’t dare move a muscle. Dashiell would have laughed until breakfast and perhaps beyond.
With Dashiell, asleep, behind me, and the boys, asleep in front of me, I drifted to sleep, again.
Dashiell woke before me.
He stirred to wake me.
“The sun is up,” he whispered.
“We should be getting up soon.”
I pulled his arm over me, tightly.
“You’ll never guess what I dreamed last night?”
He said, “Aunt Odie penciled your nails?”
“No. I thought I heard a locomotive chugging, but when I woke, it was the electric. It was the horn, not the steam whistle.”
“I don’t know what I dreamed about,” he said. “You know the steam trains don’t run any more, except in your dreams.”
“I guess so.”
“No guessing,” he said, “they just don’t run anymore.”
He pressed his hip against me, nudging me.
“Let’s start getting up.”
I asked, “Ollie. Louis. You, two, awake?”
Louis said, “Yes.”
Ollie said, “No.”
“Time to get up.”
“Do we have to?”
“What time is it, Dashiell?”
“We can stay in bed for another half hour, but then we have to get up and fly through the shower and down to the dining room for breakfast. A deal?”
Dashiell added, “I called the desk last night and asked them to call at seven.”
“When the phone rings, boys, into the shower.”
I added, “Across the hallway…”
I was almost asleep, when the phone destroyed my peaceful interlude.
Dashiell and I performed our matinal ablutions, dressed, and were ready for the day.
We went to the boys’ room, 400, and the boys were just finishing toweling off.
I set Ollie’s clothes on the one valet stand; Louis’ clothes on the other.
“Will you, guys, be able to dress, check yourselves, and arrive in the Grand Dining Room within a reasonable time?” I asked.
“Be sure to look in the cheval, and check those nails.”
“Okay. Jean-Claude,” Louis said, nodding.
“Yes,” said Ollie.
I took the camera to the Grand Dining Room. I wanted a picture of Pat at the piano.
I wasn’t disappointed; Pat sat and pounded out his version of some show tunes. I took a picture of Pat at the piano and some of the ladies at their tables.
“The next time you’re in Marseille,” I said, “I’ll show them to you.”
They wanted to talk.
“I must have breakfast.” I said, “I have to return to the city, this morning, and wrestling with the boys all day will be a long chore.”
They commiserated with my plight and excused me, as the boys arrived giggling from the Grand Hallway.
Miss Gardenia, raised her hand to me, “Jean-Claude. They are such cute little things. If you have any extras in Marseille, you can send them here for me. Just seeing them, makes me feel forty years younger.”
Miss Hilda and Miss Angelique smiled and murmured something between them, probably not repeatable in proper company. Miss Gardenia threw them a look. In innocence, they looked about the room.
“You, three, haven’t changed much, have you?”
Miss Gardenia said, “I haven’t but these two,” rolling her eyes, “they’re getting more senile, by the day.”
Politely, I laughed, kissed each of them, and returned to attend to the boys at my table.
Mister Allison came through the Grand Dining Room in his bakers’ whites, his apron flowing like the mainsail on Magellan’s Victoria, as she sailed into Sanlucar, after successfully circumnavigating the Earth. His toque flowed across the Grand Dining Room, signaling a departure from the normal course of Grand Dining Room affairs, amid the guests and blues, waiting tables and cooing at guests.
He brought a small silver tray of his breakfast pastries to Dashiell, who adored Mister Allison’s artistry.
As the tray came to a safe harbor before Dashiell, Dashiell stood and applauded Mister Allison. The boys and I stood and applauded, too.
Dashiell and I went to Mister Allison and we gave bises. We stood back from him, and applauded him, again.
The guests, who knew, applauded; the rest, like sheep, applauded, too, but not so enthusiastically.
Mister Allison turned, clasped his hands in appreciation, and bowed in response to the accolade from his fans.
He left by the Grand Hallway.
The boys, Dashiell, and I enjoyed The Pastry Tray of the Best from the Best.
As we enjoyed our breakfast, the Maître d’hôtel approached the table.
“May I interrupt for a moment?”
“Certainly,” I said.
“This is Mister Fitzwilliam, our assistant manager. He would like to say hello for a second, but not be a bother.”
“Not a bother at all,” I said, standing and shaking his hand, “Please, share a cup of coffee with us.”
He stayed a few minutes, until a woman, apparently from the office, came, and told him that a Mister Witherspoon was on the phone for him. He stood, rolled his eyes, and said, “The boss is on the phone. Nice meeting you.” With that said, he hurried off through the doorway to the Grand Hallway.
After breakfast, we returned to our rooms. Our bags sat open in the dressing rooms. I saw my brown leather View-Master camera strap, in the bag. I grabbed my View-Master camera.
“This will be my last time to walk around here for a while,” went through my mind.
Dashiell sprayed noisily as he relieved himself in the bathroom, forgetting the close the door.
“Are you trying to write a novel in the toilet, again?”
He laughed and said, “Sorry.”
“I want to get an extra roll of film for the View-Master.”
“What size does it take?”
“Thirty-five millimeter Ektachrome.”
“I have Kodacolor thirty-five. Will that work?”
“No. Has to be Ektachrome thirty-five.”
“You can get it downstairs.”
I took a picture from the front window looking out on the green towards the train station, in the distance; another shot of the golf green. Such memories for Dashiell and me.
We left 400, collected the boys, from the balcony in 400, and left 400 and 401 to the newlyweds.
The clock crept forward toward the time to take the carriage to the train station.
I stopped at the office.
“Please call this number in the city.”
The operator placed the call.
“Hello. This is Jean-Claude Beauvais, from the 92nd Street Pier. My party and I will arrive in New York City at Penn Station at twelve-fifteen. Please pick up my party of seven with bags at twelve-thirty on Eighth Avenue.”
The dispatcher assured me, “The cars will be waiting.”
One little thing wasn’t finished.
I had promised, if possible, for the boys to see croquet being played.
We hurried around the side of the building to the croquet court where the ladies stood with their mallets watching someone prepare to strike a croquet ball.
The players were very serious.
When we arrived, everything stopped.
I explained the boys wanted to see how the game was played. The women posed for pictures with the boys. Louis avoided hugs, fearing a perfume dousing.
The boys saw the ladies performing their best gaming shots for one round, after which we then excused ourselves to head to the porte-cochère.
Returning to the front of the building, we found the Tissots and Monsieur Laurent exercising three rocking chairs, lined across the front of the resort, in the shade under the porte-cochère, an occasion for a few more pictures.
“I never saw this kind of seat, before,” Monsieur Tissot said.
“They’re called ‘rocking chairs’ because you can make them rock back and forth,” I said. “Some people say Ben Franklin invented them, but that may be more story than reality.”
“Ah. Rocking Chair,” he repeated, “Quite an invention. I thought everything had already been invented.”
I looked at him and smiled.
He added, “Almost everything…”
Messieurs Tissot and Laurent helped Madame Tissot from her chair. She was adept at rocking, but not yet skilled in ejecting from the new rocking invention.
She looked at me, as the men aided her rise from the seat. She smiled and said, just loud enough for me to hear, “My first time.”
I took a picture of the boys in front of the family’s white carriage, with the door closed, showing the family name, “Beauvais,” the red-hatted carriage-master, and the six white horses, standing before it.
“Dashiell, I can show Cyprian, how Grandpapa recreated a touch of La Belle France in America.”
He didn’t say anything.
Bjorn took a View Master picture of the boys, Dashiell, and me beside the carriage, then one final picture of the four of us in the carriage. I jumped down, hugged Bjorn, and thanked him.
“Bon Voyage,” he said, waving.
The carriage master popped the reins and said, “Gee;” the horses pulled; the carriage lurched. As we rode down the path to the station, I passed the camera to Dashiell, to take a few pictures of the resort, just to record the memory on film.
“Where does that path go?” Louis inquired, looking at the turn off to the right. Itchy to take pictures, I snapped a picture of the turn off to town.
“To Lake Pennyworth,” I said. “It goes out to the road, and from there, it’s about seven miles to town.”
“Seven miles in the snow by sleigh, or seven miles, this way,” Dashiell said.
“What’s a mile?” Ollie asked.
“It’s a distance, like a kilometer, but different,” Dashiell said.
“What’s the difference?” Louis asked.
“Jean-Claude,” Dashiell said, looking at me, “You know about things like that. What’s the exact difference?”
“A kilometer, a thousand meters, is six tenths of a mile,” I said, looking through the viewfinder of the View-Master, toward the carriage house across the green. “Click.” “More exactly, sixty-two hundredths of a mile.”
“Wow,” Louis said, “How do you know all that stuff?”
“You’ll know that and a lot more, by the time you’re an adult.”
Ollie shook his head.
“It’s an adult thing. Louis.”
“What do you think you will remember from your visit to Lake Pennyworth Place, Louis?” I asked, to fill in the time until we arrived at the station at the bottom of the path.
“Look out for perfume,” he said.
Ollie found that hilariously funny, bending over in laughter. Louis turned away and looked over the lawn at the trees, trying to ignore Ollie.
After Ollie regained some control, I asked him the same question.
“Horses stink like poo,” he declared, so matter-of-factly.
“Everybody loves you there,” he said, looking straight in my eyes.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“In the Grand Ballroom, last night, everyone listened to everything you said and everything you played. They loved you.”
“I learned what a Hammond is, too,” Ollie added.
The carriage turned from the path to the station, at the foot of resort’s lawn.
The carriage master pulled the reins, and applied the brake to the opened Landau.
A red cap porter approached the carriage door. He was promptly shooed away by the carriage master, who opened the door with the proper panache. Dashiell and the boys walked from the carriage to the parked coach. I popped a couple pictures of them as they boarded the ‘Beau’ car. I turned as the other carriage stopped at the station with the Tissots and Monsieur Laurent. I took a few shots of the resort in the distance, atop the lawn from the train station, and a few of the Tissots and Monsieur Laurent, with the resort in the background.
I followed them into the car. They sat in exactly the same chairs where they sat on the way to Lake Pennyworth Place. Louis and Dashiell sat on the other side of the bar, looking through the observation windows.
Ollie and I were outside. I sat in a chair on the observation deck. Ollie tried to look around the side of the railroad car.
“Ollie,” I asked. “What are you trying to see?”
“I’m looking to see if the train is coming,” he said.
“You’re looking in the wrong way.”
His head retreated from the side railing and turned to me in wonderment.
“The car is turned in the other direction,” I said, “for the trip back to the city.”
I didn’t pursue explaining the turning of the car. I pointed across the observation deck toward the road, which crossed the railroad tracks about fifty yards, westward, toward the city of Pennyworth.
“You won’t see the train coming, until it comes around the bend on the other side of the road.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Do you see the road?”
I stood behind him.
“Okay. Now do you see the sign on the side of the track? The black and white sign on pole?”
“Oh. Yes. That’s a sign?”
“Yes. It warns automobile drivers to look out for the train.”
“See how the train track turns, just past the signs.”
“Yes. I didn’t see that, before.”
“When the train gets near the road and before you can see it, the train’s horn will toot, a couple times. After you hear the train’s horn, you’ll see the train come around the bend in the tracks.”
Dashiell called from inside, “First the horn; then you’ll see it.”
“When the train stops,” I continued, “they’ll connect these two cars to the train and we’ll be on our way back to the city.”
“What about the brakes and the steam?” Ollie asked.
“The railroad people will take care of all that,” I said.
“That’s good,” he said.
“Indeed, it is,” I said, patting him on his shoulder.
I looked inside.
“No Louis?” I asked Dashiell.
Dashiell said, “He’s on the other side of the bar.”
I looked over the bar and saw Louis bent over, looking at something in his lap. Whatever it was, it didn’t stress the Tissots and Monsieur Laurent, who could plainly see the object of his attention.
I sat next to Dashiell.
Ollie waited patiently in a white wicker chair, looking for the approaching electric train.
A short horn toot, followed by three louder toots.
The train approached.
“It’s coming,” Ollie exclaimed, jumping from his chair to the handrail. My eyes met Dashiell’s, as we smiled, enjoying Ollie’s excitement. Dashiell and I fired our cameras at Ollie.
The train slowed, passed the observation car and its companion, and stopped.
Dashiell and I watched as Ollie leaned trying to look around the side of the car to see what was happening.
The train horn tooted twice and slowly pulled away from the station. When we were off the station track, the car stopped.
Ollie watched the man, beside the track, move the lever. The switch point moved and locked in the straight ‘through’ position. The man waved to Ollie as he walked past our car. Ollie continued to watch him.
“He climbed up into another car,” he said.
“He’ll wave to the front of the train,” Dashiell said.
I added, “… and then the train will go to Black Rock.”
Ollie queried, “Black Rock?”
“Sister Mary Hate-My-Guts.”
Ollie wanted to know about Sister Mary Hate-My-Guts, but didn’t ask. He looked forward, over the side railing, perhaps looking for a black rock.
Dashiell and I went inside and sat facing the rear open observation windows.
The train accelerated. Ollie’s hair blew back, making his facial expression and hair aerodynamic, like a Studebaker.
“Ollie,” I yelled, “you may want to come inside so you don’t eat any bugs.”
He looked at me through the window. What I said registered in his mind and he promptly came inside the car.
When he sat, I explained.
“Before the train was electric, when it was a steam train, leaning over the side like that would get cinders in your eyes, face, and hair. The electric trains replaced the steam trains, and now you get bugs. The little ones just taste bad. The big ones can hurt you. Some people have had to go to the hospital. The big bugs will even leave a scar.”
“Wow. They need more of those scary birds to eat the bugs.”
I let it pass.
The train slowed at Black Rock, but there was no stop. We were on the afternoon express from Delaware Water Gap to the city.
The bartender came and asked, “Would you like a snack or a drink?”
I looked up. The bartender was a woman, a lovely woman, with a lovely smile, smiling eyes, and particularly gorgeous breasts hidden behind her white blouse.
I looked at Dashiell, just past her blouse.
He knew all my passions.
“Remember the boys,” was all he said, and looked at the bar for inspiration.
Dashiell’s admonishing me, tamed me, after my admiring this luscious lady’s charms. A tinge of guilt reddened my ears, unnoticed by Ollie and Dashiell, but felt, nonetheless, by me.
“Perhaps a nice bottle of a Sauvignon Blanc in an ice bucket and a few glasses.”
She repeated my order, “Sauvignon Blanc, ice bucket, and two glasses.”
She looked sternly at me.
“Yes,” I said dismissively.
She turned and went to the bar.
She returned with the wine and glasses.
“If the others want anything, see to it and I’ll pay their tab.”
I gave her a more than adequate gratuity.
“Sir,” she said.
I put my forefinger to my lips, in the universal sign for silence.
Ollie sipped some of his wine and ice, slouched in his chair, and shortly fell asleep, infused with a sweet taste of wine, the warm afternoon air, the rhythmic cadence of the wheels against the tracks, and the gentle rocking of the rail car.
Dashiell said, “Madame Tissot and Louis are asleep, too.”
I said, “The rocking chair wore out Madame Tissot and…”
“…and we know why the boys are asleep,” Dashiell added.
The Express trains do move along. The ceiling lights came on and almost, immediately, darkness enveloped us; we were in the tunnel, beneath the Hudson River.
Cold air rushed into the car, waking Ollie, as the train headed down, under the Hudson River, and up, into Penn Station.
“Hello. Sleepy head,” I said.
He rose from his chair, came to me, slid into my lap. I wrapped my arms around him.
“I’m cold,” he said.
“We’ll be in the city in a few minutes. You’ll be warmer then.”
He started to shiver.
I pulled him to me, wrapping my jacket around him to warm his little frame.
He slid his arm around me, under my jacket.
I remembered a time, when I was little and cold, in the back seat of the car, traveling with Grandpapa. He held me and wrapped his jacket around me, to keep me warm. I remembered the smell of his cigars, too. I felt secure.
I think we traveled for days.
The wheels, pressed by the steel brakes, squealed loudly, ending my daydream. The train slowed to a crawl, turned a few times, and glided along a platform to a gentle stop in Penn Station.
I held him to me, as Grandpapa held me.
We left the train and went to the Eighth Avenue Entrance.
The cars were there with the doors open. The Red Caps followed us, delivering the bags, which were stowed away in the automobile trunks. We were on our way home. Ollie was still sleepy. He scooted into my lap. I held him close. His arm crept around me again.
We stopped. Dashiell went in the photo store, dropped off the film for developing, and picked up the pictures from the Museum of Modern Art.
Once the boys were on the yacht, they were exuberant to be home. We ate lunch and went to the Jacuzzi for a good soaking.
The Tissots and Monsieur Laurent were not going to Yankee Stadium. They decided to nap this afternoon and dine at the usual time on the yacht.
“What time is the ballgame?” I asked Dashiell.
“Starts at four.”
“We can stay in the water for a little longer.”
I started thinking aloud.
“The stadium opens at two-thirty, an hour and a half before game time. We would want to get there about three-thirty. Leave here by three.”
Seeing Dashiell nod, Ollie and Louis started nodding.
I laughed, leaned my head back, relaxed and muttered.
“I live in a circus…”
Louis and Dashiell discussed the location of a wisp of smoke across the river. Ollie leaned his head against me, listening to the conversation.
“Don’t fall asleep, Tiger.” I said.
“I won’t,” he said.
Dashiell and Louis still focused on the wisp of smoke. The conversation moved to whether it was smoke or escaping steam.
I splashed Dashiell, startling him.
He turned and splashed me back.
After a lot of splashing, the four of us left for the showers.
Shortly, Dashiell and I sat in the boys’ stateroom, as they dressed for the ballgame.
“You have your camera, film, sunglasses, and Bain de Soleil. Right?”
Little heads bobbed up and down.
The four sportsmen, Ollie and Louis with cameras and Dashiell and I with binoculars, left Mon Grandpapa, walked the pier to the Eastside Highway, where we hailed a cab and arrived at Yankee Stadium, in a matter of a few minutes.
We, each, grabbed a sausage and peppers from a street vendor and headed for the ‘Entrance’ gate.
Once inside the stadium, Ollie saw the baseball hats on many fans. He pulled on my hand.
“Before you ask, yes, you can have a hat. We’ll go to the souvenir shop, after we find our seats and eat.”
Dashiell, ahead of us, called, “Jean-Claude. This way.” He pointed toward an opening beneath the stands.
I followed Dashiell; Ollie dangled on the end of my arm; sometimes, besides me; sometimes, behind me, our sandwiches safely tucked away in a brown paper bag.
Of course, all this excitement had to invite the inevitable event.
Ollie pulled on my hand.
“What’s the matter?”
“I have to pee.”
“Okay. Hold on a minute.”
He didn’t hear me. I looked around and found the rest room arrow. We followed the sign to the rest room. Ollie had never seen a restroom like the Yankee Stadium restroom.
“No one is looking at you. Just go ahead and pee.”
I stood, as he finished his business and buttoned his trousers.
He washed his hands and we resumed our search for our seats along the corridor. I almost passed an attendant.
“Sir. Are we going in the right direction?”
“Yes. Just keep going straight ahead. Your seats will be in the front row, on the left side, at the end of the passageway.”
“You’re welcome. Enjoy the game.”
The crowd thinned as we approached the end of the passageway, fresh air, and sunlight.
Once outside, I turned left, and saw Dashiell and Louis eating their sandwiches, four seats away.
“Dashiell,” I yelled.
While Ollie and I walked past him and Louis to get to our seats, Dashiell spoke.
“I thought you, guys, were playing, this afternoon.”
Once settled in our seats, with Ollie and Louis, between us, I rolled my eyes toward Ollie, and spoke in English to Dashiell.
“Someone has seen the baseball hats.”
“Does someone have a hankering for a uniform, shoes, and a glove?”
“We’ll know, between games when we check out the souvenir shop.”
“I’m glad you’re not spoiling him.”
When he said that, he knew I would toss him a sour face, which I delivered.
He laughed, as did I.
“Okay,” I said. “A glove, hat, and, maybe, a shirt.”
“That’s not outright spoiling him,” Dashiell said. “Just growing a little mildew on him.”
“There’s nothing wrong with his having something to remember his first baseball game.”
Louis turned to me and asked, “What are you, two, talking about?”
“Spoiling you and Ollie,” I said.
Ollie asked, “What’s ‘spoiling you and Ollie’ mean?”
I said, “Ask me tonight, when we get home.”
I opened my sandwich.
“Eat your sandwich, Ollie.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Are you hungry, Dashiell?”
“Ollie doesn’t want his sandwich. I hate to waste it. You want to eat it or share it with Louis?”
“Sure,” Dashiell said. “You want some, Louis?”
“No. I’m full. Thanks.”
Ollie passed his sandwich to Louis, who relayed it to Dashiell, who opened it and began making it smaller.
Louis and Ollie seemed content to watch the crowd in the ballpark.
Dashiell and Louis had a short conversation, between sandwich bites. Dashiell washed the end of Ollie’s sandwich down with a cold beer, burped, and subsequently laughed.
Ollie asked, “What happens, now?”
Dashiell asked, “What did he say?”
I said, “He said, ‘what happens, now’.”
“You want to explain the game, or should I?”
“I will listen to your expert nuances,” I said, smiling.
As Dashiell explained the game, the A’s ran on the field to warm up. The hometown crowd booed.
Ollie was confused, between the baseball, a base, a ball, and a strike. Dashiell continued explaining ‘in’nings and ‘outs’. Ollie suffered from too many new words at one time but the hats… the hats made a lasting impression.
Peering in the binoculars held Ollie’s attention past the first inning. Louis and Dashiell were discussing the mechanics of the game as the game proceeded. I was a happy tourist, watching the Yankee’s play a home game.
After the second inning, Ollie’s binoculars hung around his neck, and his head, rested against my arm. My tiny Tiger was drooping.
We stood for the seventh inning, minus the Ollie, who slept on. The Yankee’s won the first game, 1-0, to the delight of the hometown crowd.
The expected rush to the toilets and refreshment stands occurred. Dashiell and Louis went first. When they came back, I woke Ollie and we went. We negotiated the crowd to the toilets.
“Ollie do you want something eat, now?”
“Okay. We have a problem.”
“Well, I can carry my sandwich and a drink and you can carry your sandwich and a drink.”
“The souvenir shop closes in a little while.”
His face went blank.
“What shall we do?”
“Let’s go to the souvenir shop and take a look at what they have. You decide what you want to do.”
While we went to the souvenir shop, the second game began, quickly thinning the crowd, beneath the seats.
In the souvenir shop, Ollie immediately found the hats.
He stopped me.
“I’ve got a plan. I’ll get a hat and wear it. I’ll be able to carry my sandwich and drink, too.”
He picked out a ‘Yankee’s’ hat, put it on, and was ready to leave, when he saw a “Yankee’s’ shirt.
“I could wear a shirt, too.”
We returned to our seats with two hot dogs, two sodas, two hats, and a shirt.
As Ollie and I slid past Dashiell, Dashiell said, “No cleats?”