THE MIDNIGHT SKULKER 12
San Diego, California
February 28, 1974
5:57 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
“I’ve known the owners for years. Matter of fact, over the years the Sawyers have bought a number of income properties through me and I’ve always admired their home…”
“The one we’re going to see now?”
“Yes. Really lovely people, I’ve known them for close to twenty years. They own the Mercedes Benz dealership in La Jolla and, now that they’re older, they want to be closer to their dealership so they called me this morning telling me that they wanted to sell it fast, so we priced it right and I called Alice, then I called,” again glancing in the rear view mirror, “I called your mother and here we are.”
“On our way to see our new home.”
“Yes, I feel it! You and Mitch are on your way to see your new home.”
“Where are we heading? I haven’t had the slightest idea if we’re going north, east, south or west since Marcie and I got here.”
“Right now we’re on U.S. 8 – the Mission Valley Freeway – heading east… See those buildings off to the right? That’s the San Diego State University and we’re going to an area called Lake Murray.”
“ ‘Lake Murray’; there’s an actual real lake there?”
“ ‘An actual real lake’? Oh, yeah. It’s about three quarters of a mile from your home.”
“They got fish in Lake Murray?”
“Absolutely, all kinds from trout to bass.”
Seeing Sammy and himself at the shoreline casting the old rods and ‘Shakespeare’ reels that, for some reason, he’d been saving since…
August 10, 1960
Coming from the air-cooled lobby, My God, he thought as the heat hit him, it’s got to be a million degrees out here today! Standing within the miniscule shade in the lee side of the building, loosening his tie and removing his seersucker jacket, he draped it over the sample case.
Walking north on Main Street, glancing at his watch, It’s only 11:17, I can make another call before lunch, he thought, then either grab lunch here or go on home.
Knowing he had an hour to kill when eating downtown, Mitchell had taken to bringing whatever book he was presently reading with him each day.
Just about anywhere he worked in the city of Peoria was never much further than ten minutes from home. But Mitchell knew if he went home for lunch, especially on a day as hot and muggy as this day, most likely he’d remain home.
Rationalizing, But I’ve had a pretty good day so far. As a matter of fact, for only working—calculating—eight days this month, I’ve sold—calculating—better than four hundred thousand envelopes. And besides—rationalizing—I promised Mikey I’d take him fishing.
* * * *
Never expecting to, surprising both his wife and himself, Mitchell found he enjoyed the relaxation fishing gave him. But tiring of the racial barbs and ethnic jokes of Hugh Ivy and Bobby Joe Klee, in the early days of that summer he had taken to going fishing by himself and—still ambivalent about actually catching fish—he had found a small, shade stippled clearing on the western bank of the Illinois River where, depending on his mood and the day, sitting in sun or shade, Mitchell would bait the hooks on the two poles he then owned, cast the lines, eat the lunch he or Marsha had made, then, again depending on his mood—keeping an eye out for the bobbing of the tips of the poles—Mitchell would sit leaning on a nearby bolder reading a book, or, laying on a blanket watching the clouds, he would let his mind drift, and, if indeed he did catch a fish, other than baiting the hooks and casting the lines, it was purely coincidental and, still not too keen about beheading and gutting it—also considering the fact that his wife refused to even look at it, to say nothing about cooking it—the lucky fish always got tossed back.
Truly enjoying small town living… Well, in comparison to Chicago or New York City, even with a population of two million, Peoria could definitely be defined as a “small town.”
San Diego, California
February 28, 1974
6:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
Mentally picturing Sammy and himself at the shoreline casting the old rods and ‘Shakespeare’ reels that, for some reason, he’d been saving since they lived in Peoria, Illinois way back in 1960, “Marcy, remember when Mikey and I used to go fishing in the Illinois River.”
“Yes, and I also remember that you never caught any.”
“Nah, you forget; Mikey and me used to catch fish, sometimes, but we always threw ‘em back because what was I supposed to do with them? You remember what you told me the first time I went fishing?”
Twisting to look at her husband, “We both knew that I wouldn’t cook ‘em for you, but…?”
Laughing, “I’ll never forget what you told me.” Tapping Sophie on the shoulder, “Want to know what Marcy told me the first time I went fishing?”
Catching the humor here, “Yes, sure.”
Remembering, “Oh, yeah,” Marsha said, “you were pretending to talk like an Indian…”
“Yeah. I remember I said something like…”
In his best American Indian brave’s voice, Mitchell Lipensky had proclaimed, “Me go catch’em dinner!”
“Yeah, that’s what you said and I remember saying something like…”
Never a fish eater, Marsha Lipensky, in her best Jewish American wife’s voice proclaimed, “I ain’t eating nothing you catch, unless it’s a cow!”
“You still feel that way about fish, Marsha?”
“Yes. I don’t want to see ‘em, touch em’ or cook ’em.”
“That’s a shame, ‘cause some of the country’s best eating fish are caught right off the coast here… You ever have Red Snapper, Mitch?”
“No, can’t say that I have.”
“You’ll love ‘Snapper’! Okay, that’s where we’ll go for dinner, then. I know this fantastic restaurant: ‘Fisherman’s Grotto’, that’s right on ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’ that’s got the –right off the boat –freshest ’Snapper’ in town… And for you, Marsha, soon as I can, I’ll call to see if they can catch a cow. ”
“They do have other stuff, though, don’t they?”
“Yes, of course. You like lamb chops?”
“They got ‘em! And they’re delicious, too… So maybe I’d better call and ask them to catch a lamb instead.”
“A question, Sophie.” Marsha asked, “What about schools?”
“The Le Mesa school district has a perfect scholastic reputation.”
“Michael will be a senior next semester. How far is the high school from” – drawn into Sophie Chin’s optimism – “our home?”
“Unless he drives, there’s a school bus that will pick him up on the corner, or if he rides a bike, the high school is about three/three-and-a-half miles away.”
“Ellie and Sammy are in grade school.”
“An easy walk. Grade school’s about a block and a half away.”
Absorbing this conversation, thinking, If the house is all that Sophie says, it’ll be perfect.
“Seems like we’re a long way from ‘down town’.”
“Yeah, Mitch,” Sophie said, “It’s about twenty-three miles from there…” putting the right turn signal on, the ‘Cadillac’ took the cloverleaf at 70th street that, rounding the north-bound bend, became ‘Lake Murray Boulevard North’, “…to here.”
Four minutes from the Mission Valley Freeway offramp, taking a left turn off of Lake Murray Boulevard, the Cadillac traveled about a mile, took a left on Baltimore Drive to the first right, then to the middle of the block and a right up a slightly up-sloped concrete driveway…
©October 3, 2011 / Mark M. Lichterman