MYSTERIOUS LADY (in the back bungalow)
Me: driving a squad car for a private security service
Me: .357 Magnum pistol strapped to my hip
Me: Midnight to eight a.m. shift sleepier than sh*t
Radio: (see attached tune) playing too loud
Boss on 2-way radio: "Terry, get on over to (says address) and give the lady what she wants. Over."
Me: "Say wuh?"
Boss on 2-way radio: "A rich client has a music student living in her backyard bungalow as an exchange student. Van Cliburn finalist. You know the one. Don't you?"
Me: "Say wuh?"
Boss on 2-way radio: "I guess you don't know. Ha. Hahahahahahaha. You WILL KNOW soon enough. Get on over there. Ha. Hahahahah. Over and out.".
Me: "Say wuh?"
Me (back on the 2-way radio as I head the squad car toward the mysterious lady in the back bungalow) "Say Warren, what's this all about?"
Boss on 2-way radio: "This piano finalist is from Italy and she's hornier than a sailor on shore leave. She'll be at the door waiting for you - she'll have some bullshit errand to send you on - like buying her cigarettes ... and the light will be behind her ...and she'll be wearing something a priest would not bless. Now do you understand?"
Me on 2-way radio: "Errand? I'm not an errand boy. I'm a by-God rough and tumble conscientious objector fresh out of prison who has to wear a deadly weapon and work a lousy job all night for extra money because nobody will hire an ex-convict but you."
Boss on 2-way radio: "Tell me something I DON'T know. Now get on over there and give her 'whatever' because your boss is really doing you a favor. Over and out."
Me: (Insert un-Christian language out loud inside the squad car as the tune keeps playing).
Fast-forward to today 2020.
I hear the song again. It triggers THAT memory.
I share it with you.
The long gravel driveway snakes left and right with a thicket of dense pecan trees surrounding the pavement.
There, I see it!
The bungalow behind the rich person's house.
Just as my Boss, Warren told me. The light is on. The door is open.
The curvy Italian music finalist; she's standing between the light and my popped eyeballs.
I pull up and park.
Back in 1973, no automatic windows. I lean and down roll as the lady is speaking.
Me: "Say wuh?"
She stops speaking.
"Where is Warren?"
I open the door and get out, standing all 6 feet 4 inches tall in a khaki uniform, tight fitting and adorned by my rather large deadly weapon...and rather sadly ... a Jehovah's Witness trying to earn a living working nights.
I walk around the car and stand in front of - somebody I can only describe as straight out of La Dolce Vita - except, not blonde. She's a dark skinned Italian with movie-star looks.
"Warren ..." I quip. "You mean like Tolstoy's?"
Her face froze and a Neapolitan flicker in her eye signaled
she was chewing my comment over and for flavor.
"Ah" she remarked finally, "No - not WAR AND Peace ...
so - you make with funny for me. Who are you? You were sent by Warren for me?"
I hesitated slightly.
I ignored the implications of "for me."
My mind searched possible conversation starters.
Rejected: "What can I do for you?"
Me: "Warren's night off. Yes - he sent me. There is an errand you wish to send me on?"
The slinky Italian pianist was eyeball frisking me for contraband.
She pursed her lips ... approvingly.
"Why don't you come in?"
Her hand beckoned like a TV game show Vanna White directing my eyes toward a gorgeous Grand Piano next to a wide bay window.
Once inside, she stands there and the light caresses her ample 'talent.'
I was done for. She had me at "Where's Warren..."
In the next few minutes all I could look at was the truly magnificent and impossibly captivating object of desire I beheld.
"Do you play?" Her voice may have carried double meaning .. maybe not.
I was aching to get my hands busy. I don't know what got into me - I just couldn't help myself.
I might never have another chance such as this and the moment seemed right.
I lunged and my hands grabbed great fistfuls. Of those black and white piano keys!
I improvised something in a minor key .. wistful ...forlorn ...exotic...passionate...
Until I came to my senses at what I had done!
I can't play piano worth a damn. I'm awkwardly self-taught.
Me pounding like a chimp in front of a Van Cliburn competition expert - the shame of it struck me straightaway.
The Italian temptress observed I had ended my impromptu passionate outburst.
She spoke: "It sounds very American."
I stood gazing adoringly at the splendid keyboard (with 9 extra keys). "A Bösendorfer is Austrian, I believe."
The impatience with my not-so-funny comments tampered her mood.
She tossed her tresses impudently.
"Very well .. then ...here is my errand list..."
The next day, my Boss Warren gave me a huge smile and one of those good-old-boy eyebrow raises.
He chuckled. "What'd I tell you? Huh? Huh?"
I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly... "To tell you the truth,
she was very disappointed I showed up instead of 'Warren.'"
I think I made his day.
*1973 tune on the radio*
Can you spot the Van Cliburn pianist in this 1973 photo?