|"You're my last customer, Mr. Kias."
"Hey, Tony, use the machine on the back and sides."
"How are the Italians doing?"
"Do you think they'll take the Cup?"
"Were the best in Europe."
"You know, Mr. Kias, U.S. soccer is starting to take off. They are packing them in in California. Next year you wait and see."
"How are you doing? What's new with you?"
"I'll tell you what's new, Tony. It's one crazy story. You got to keep it under your hairpiece. Promise?"
"Sure Mr. Kias, you and me."
"At 7 o"clock tonight, I'm on my way to Louisville, to a reunion wit my old outfit.
This morning I stop at the bank and withdraw five hundred bucks for my expenses and to do a little shopping in West New York. You know outside of Miami there are more Cubans in West New York, than any other town in America.
I bus it down to West New York and hop off in front of "Models". I'm looking for a pair of sneakers. As I get the bus I slap my back pocket for the feel of my five–hundred dollar wallet.
Damn it! I had done it again. I realize my wallet is gone and must have fallen on the seat of the bus. For the third time in thirty years I have left my wallet on the damn bus. Up till now the wallet has always been returned to me, sans money.
My body vibrates with anger, panic and utter disgust. It's amazing how you can feel three different emotions at one time. I have the choice of two things: one, going over to the curb and throwing up and then proceed to bang my head on the pavement, or to chase the bus down Burgenline Avenue.
I take off at a speed that makes the road runner look like a slow sloth. With my lungs on fire, and the old ticker ready to blow, I am closing the gap. I'm steadily gaining. Thanks to the congested traffic, I finally run down the bus in the middle of the avenue. I pound on the door until the bus driver reluctantly opens it. Bounding on the bus, I run to the back where I had sat. No wallet on, under, or in back of the seat.
I think it would be kind of stupid, after my frenzied behavior to ask, "Did anybody see a wallet? I glance at the people who are now quietly staring at me.
I had checked my pocket when originally boarded the bus. I am mad as hell, but completely frustrated. Someone on this damn bus has my wallet.
Tony, has stopped cutting my hair. He is now holding a dormant scissors and comb in either hand. He is on the bus with me.
Just then the driver yells to me, "Hey, Senior", as he holds up the wallet. A shabby old woman who I had rudely brushed past, as I ran down the aisle, has just given it to him.
I rush to the front, grab the woman in my arms and give her one big hug and a kiss. God, I am in ecstasy. I tell her she had saved my life, then I realized she has not understood a word. It's time to celebrate, despite her protest, I flip the wallet open to reward her, only to find it empty.
To quote Bill Gates, "Speed is God and time is the devil."
It is amazing how fast the brain works in a state of crises. My plan of operation is conceived at a speed that made a Pentium look like an abacus.
I feel I have no choice in what I must do. I am in a no–win confrontation with a bus load of Cubans and a Cuban bus driver. I feel extremely helpless. I have to take control and right the wrong.
In desperation I snatch the woman's pocketbook from her grasp and jump off the bus. I head down the yellow line at top speed, the bus driver in pursuit. After running two blocks, realizing the bus driver's hysterical screams had caused a posse to form behind him, I top my top speed.
If I can only reach Hudson County Park where it bordered the avenue, I can lose my pursuers in the thick wood. I know I need at least a hundred yard lead. I have two things in my favor, the posse can not make time on the sidewalk, because of the crowd of shoppers, and running on that yellow line, and through intersections, kind of takes the edge off the pleasure of the chase.
God, there it was, the woods. I suddenly realize there could be no sanctuary there. They would surround it and I would be trapped. They would beat the bush till I was caught.
I could not stop. With a superhuman effort, heart pounding, fighting for air, I run and run, clear through the woods. Finally, I crash out of the park, into my home town of Fairview, hoping that I have left my pursuers combing the woods.
I continually glance back in search of the dreaded posse, keeping the pocketbook under my shirt. I feel as if I'm painted red and twenty feet tall. This is a nightmare.
Reaching my home, I go directly up to my room and rip open the pocketbook, only to find three dollars. There on the dresser, still in the bank envelope, is my five hundred bucks.
"Tony, you know what this means. I have to spend the rest of my life skirting West New York. They will always be looking for that stranger, the kissing purse snatcher, who can run like the wind.
Tony stood there stunned.
"Hey Tony, close your mouth. When are you going to cut my hair? I got to get to Louisville."
"Keep cutting, Tony, and I'll tell you the true story. Everything I told you up until I opened my wallet on the bus was true. The truth is, Tony, my wallet still contained the five hundred bucks. I gave the old lady twenty bucks and stepped off the bus.
"NO, NO, TONY, NO SHAVE!"