St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Valentine’s Day. Jim was nervously pacing back and forth while waiting
for Lupe at Mission Dolores High School. He was eager to see if she liked the sonnet that
he had written. The Valentine’s card he was holding was getting heavier by the minute.
Thousand screaming Indians were running up and down in his intestines. Finally she
walked down the stairs of the main entrance. She was fifteen minutes late, and
approached him with a big smile and her I am so glad to see you hug.
Jim handed Lupe the card. Rigor mortis was starting to set in from frayed nerves
and tense muscles waiting for the moment to arrive. He opened his mouth and the words
fell like heavy helium filled balloons that slowly rose as he pronounced, " Happy.
Valentine’s. Day. I. Love. You. Very. Much." He was as stiff as a two day old dead cat.
Lupe looked surprised and opened the Hallmark card that expressed his feelings for
her. Then she opened the second envelope and read the love sonnet that he had written
for her. It was simple and expressed his love for her. "Thank you so much. This is
beautiful. It’s the best Valentine’s Day ever," she said. Lupe hugged him and gave him a
long, passionate kiss. He had to come up for air. The blood in his vines began to flow
again and he decompressed back to normal.
"I’m glad you like it," he said. The ten thousand wild Indians vanished.
Lupe was very happy. They walked home and she held his hand tight swunging
it back and forth. They looked like two children walking home. When they arrived Lupe
told Jim to close is eyes. She held his hand and took him to the kitchen. “Surprise!
Open your eyes.” There was a two foot diameter chocolate chip cookie resting on the
table. Jim slowly approached it with a fork in his hand. “Is it asleep?” Lupe had written
with icing, "To my big cookie, Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you." Jim thanked her and
said, "I could rob a bank with a cookie this big."
She laughed. Jim had explained to her in the love sonnet that she took him to the
garden of angels. He told her that his love name for her would be Angel. Lupe said that her
love name for Jim would be Cookie, because he was so sweet. Jim said, " As long as you
don’t call me Big Cookie." Lupe made hot chocolate and they ate some of the cookie.
Jim told Lupe about the basketball games on Friday and the championship game
on Saturday. Lupe appreciated his concern for her. “It’s okay that you didn’t take me. I
like baseball better than basketball."
The year before the San Francisco Giants had played the New York Yankees in the
World Series. Lupe watched every game and rooted for the Giants. Her favorite player
was Willie McCovey, the first baseman for the Giants, and one of the most feared hitters in
baseball. The seventh game of the World Series was played in San Francisco. In the
bottom of the ninth, with men on second and third, McCovey hit a line shot that looked like
the winning hit. Bobbie Richardson had stepped away from second base to remove a hot
dog wrapper that had blown onto the field. When he retrieved it, McCovey hit a smash.
Richardson was out of his usual position, and reacted to the crack of the bat. He jumped
and stretched his glove as far as he could. Richardson was the shortest player on the
team, and out of position. He caught the baseball in the web of his glove for the third out.
The game was over and the Yankees had won the World Series for 1962.
Jim asked, “Have you gone to a Giants baseball game?”
"The season will begin in April. We can go to a Saturday afternoon game. Just
say when, and I’ll get the tickets."
"Are they expensive?"
"No. I know a policeman in the neighborhood who personally knows a ballplayer
for the Giants. He is very generous and gives tickets to the Boys’ Club. I can get a couple
of tickets free."
"What a nice man. We can go anytime you want," said Lupe.
"I’ll try to get tickets for the Dodgers game the third Saturday in April."
"That’s a day before your birthday."
"You remembered," Jim smiled.
"Sure. I’m going to bake you a birthday cake. It will be my first cake from scratch."
"Does it have fleas?" asked Jim.
"No silly. I will make it from a recipe, not from a cake mix box."
Jim smiled and reassured Lupe that he was not a total idiot. He asked what kind
of cake she was going to make. She said, "It is a surprise."
Rosa came home from work. They wished Rosa a happy Valentine’s Day. Lupe
showed Rosa the card and sonnet. Rosa read it and said, "How thoughtful." She noticed
the large cookie with the edges missing, leaving the middle intact, and read the words.
Lupe told Rosa that they would be going to the Giants game April 21st. They sat in the
kitchen and watched Rosa cook rice with red kidney beans. She made a salad with
sliced tomatoes and onions, and marinate them with corn oil and red wine vinegar. Rosa
steamed some flour tortillas for dinner each night. It was a simple life that wasn’t
complicated. They were satisfied with the basics: love, faith, family, and health. "Money
can’t buy that," said Rosa.
Lupe always invited Jim for dinner, but he respectfully declined, explaining that his
mother already had dinner prepared. He thanked them, and left at five o’clock.
Jim’s father Joe was a man accustomed to routine in his life. Joe enjoyed his job at
the Post Office as a supervisor responsible for air mail. He was comfortable with Mary
planning the dinner meals. It was Wednesday, therefore they had meatloaf for dinner. On
Friday it was mandatory for Catholics to have fish. Sunday was baked chicken with sliced
potatoes baked in butter. Monday was beef stew with vegetables and potatoes. Joe liked
pasta with meat sauce. Tuesday and Thursdays were pasta nights. Sometimes they had
ravioli or lasagna. Saturday was leftovers or the family went out for dinner to a local café
called Dot and Al’s. Jim had delivered newspapers when he was ten. Dot and Al’s café
was at the end of his paper route. If he had extra newspapers, he gave Al the extra
newspapers for they customers to read while having dinner. Al and his wife Dot would
always give Jim a big serving of veal cutlets and mashed potatoes with gravy.
Actually, Jim didn’t have extra newspapers. Lacey had been a newspaper boy
for two years before Jim, and complained when Jim got the Castro street route. Jim got to
the drop-off corner before Lacey, and took one or two of Lacey’s newspapers, just to upset
him. Every day Lacey complained to Mr. Mullins, the district manager, that he should have
gotten the Castro route instead. Jim left for his route while Lacey and Mr. Mullins argued
about the number of newspapers that Lacey should have.
Jim arrived home and peeked into the kitchen. Joe was expecting beef stew, and
Mary had cooked a Chinese vegetable stir-fry with shrimp. She was concerned about his
health, and told Joe that he didn’t eat enough vegetables. Joe was a meat and potatoes
man and thanked Mary for her concern. Jim mentioned that Lupe and he would be going
to the Dodgers-Giants game on the 21st of April. Mary told Jim that his birthday was on
Easter Sunday this year. She asked Joe if they could go to the St. Francis Hotel for Easter
brunch on Jim’s birthday. Mary had saved twenty dollars from her grocery budget. Joe
agreed. Jim told his parents that Lupe was cooking dinner for his birthday, and that they
were invited. They accepted. Joe told Jim that he could invite Lupe and Rosa for brunch.
Jim thanked his father.
More next week...