Over the next few weeks we were busy with school and deliveries, so much so that our parents started to worry about us.
“You guys never talk about your friends any more. What’s up with that?” Danny’s mom asked us one Saturday. “And what about the Cubs? You used to talk about them non-stop. Is something wrong?”
I froze. I had no answer. Fortunately, Danny thinks a bit faster than I do.
“No, Mom, we’ve just been working harder on our studies. Jerry and I are trying for a company scholarship. If we can get a few ‘A’s we might get a full ride at IIT.”
“Is that true, Danny? You want to go to the Illinois Institute of Technology? That’s my alma mater!”
“Yeah, Mom. I know. That’s why we’re taking AP Chemistry this year and AP Physics next year,” Danny said.
+ + +
ED: It was true that we were taking AP Chemistry, but only because our guidance counselor talked us into it last August when we went to get our class schedules.
+ + +
“As for the Cubs, they’ve been doing great and we’re afraid to say anything… it might jinx them!”
“And Mom,” Danny added, “Just like me and Jerry got jobs, so do a lot of our friends. Pretty much, we only see them at school. We kinda miss junior high. That was a lot easier.”
“I keep forgetting that you boys are getting older,” Mrs. Caputo said. “At the risk of sounding humorous, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be an electronics engineer,” Danny said. “Everything that everybody does is related to electronics in one way or another. Everyone I know carries a smart phone that’s at least 150 times more powerful than the NASA computers that landed men on the moon. I want to design and create the hardware of the future.”
“I think I’d like to be a software engineer, Danny’s inventions will be nothing without software to make them function.”
“Well you boys sure have picked good fields to enter. Maybe after you graduate from IIT you’ll be able to work together on projects.”
“That’s what we were hoping, too, Mom. Who knows… maybe we’ll start our own company someday.”
= = =
We’ve been taking a lot of trips since ‘Future-Us’ gave us their route planner app. We carry our passports now so we can go to Canada, the UK, even Australia and New Zealand. We use our debit cards on the trips out of the U.S.A., so we never have to worry about having the correct currency. Being able to set the return time on the hub has been great! We stayed in Perth at a BnB for three days and still got back to Chicago only ten minutes after we left. Hehe.
This might seem pretty strange, but it’s not the strangest. The strangest thing that happened so far was on August 15, 2016. Danny and I got to the breakroom just before 15:30.
+ + +
ED: We converted to using a 24-hour clock a few weeks ago. It just made things easier. 15:30 is 3:30 PM. To make it easier for you guys, if the hour is greater than 12 (13:00, etc.) it’s PM. Just subtract 12 from it and that’s the time, in the afternoon or evening. Trust me, converting times is a lot easier than converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius, or miles to kilometers.
OK – back to what Jerry was talking about.
+ + +
When we got to the breakroom, we heard the showers running. We didn’t think that we left them running, so we walked into the bathroom. As we passed the bedroom, we saw that two beds looked as though they’d been slept in. Continuing to the showers, we saw a naked body behind the hammered glass of the sliding doors of each of the two shower stalls. Danny called out, “Who’s there?”
The glass doors slid open almost in unison and… and it was us again. This time they seemed to be about our age, but it was still unnerving. Other Jerry said, “Take it easy. It’s us!”
Other Danny said, “Don’t shoot!” and he started laughing as he closed the door. Then he called out, “We’ll be done in a few minutes, now leave us alone, pervs!” With that, Other Jerry laughed as he slid his shower door closed and continued showering too.
Ten minutes later, Other-Us finished showering and walked into the breakroom wearing their towels. Other Danny grabbed four Cokes and the two of them sat down. After passing the Cokes around, Other Danny said, “Whatever you do, don’t come right back after your next delivery! If you’re invited in, just do it! You won’t be sorry.”
Then Jerry asked, “What is it Jewish guys say on their bar mitzvah? Oh yeah… Today I am a man! Hahahaha!”
We wanted to ask more, but as we were about to, we each got a text. We checked and found that we were going to the same place. We looked over at Other-Us and they had shit-eating grins on their faces. Other Jerry spoke. “Have a great time today. We’ll be gone when you get back.”
= = =
As we were waiting for the Uber driver, Danny said, “Those bums did that to us on purpose.”
“Danny, you realize that ‘those bums’ are us, right?”
*sigh* “Yeah, I know. OK, let’s get this taken care of in a hurry. I want to see what’s so great about the place we’re going to today. The pick-up’s in the Loop.”
Our Uber driver was a regular – a guy named Robert. (“Don’t call me Bob.”) He has the early afternoon shift and we’ve caught him several times. He knows us and always waits for the return trip. Today we were picking up at a lawyer’s office on Jackson Boulevard near the Chicago Board of Trade Building. Traffic was average today, so we made it in just under 35 minutes. We took the elevator to the 15th floor and the doors opened into the lawyer’s suite. Wow! This place must cost a lot. We were stopped by a blond guy in his mid-twenties wearing an expensive-looking suit.
“Are you Caputo and Collins?” he asked. We said we were. He said he was Mr. Bordon and he had to check our ID anyway. It’s happened before, so we weren’t surprised. We handed him our IDs and when he copied our ID cards, he gave them back and put the copies in a folder he was carrying. Next he escorted us to a small office. Once we entered, he followed and closed the door. Then he walked to a desk and had us sign a confidentiality agreement – we agreed that we would not disclose what was in the envelope we were going to deliver. That made sense. We had to make sure it wasn’t contraband, but that meant that we had to see what it was. This must have been important stuff. We signed and he put the agreements into the folder with the copy of our IDs. Finally, he handed us a stack of about 20 pages. It was a contract of some sort, and it looked legitimate. When we were satisfied, he handed us a large mailing envelope and we put the contract into it and sealed it. All that’s left to do now is to deliver the envelope to the person identified on it. We put the envelope into Danny’s backpack and said goodbye. Mr. Bordon thanked us and escorted us to the elevator and waited until we departed.
On the ride down, we commented to each other about the security precautions. When we got to the street, Robert was waiting, and in another 35 minutes we were back at the Chicago Hub. On the ride back Danny and I figured out the route to the delivery point and as soon as we paid Robert, we were off.
If you remember, the Chicago Hub is in the 16-hub cluster on the 21st floor of the headquarters building. We had to go to the 22nd floor cluster to get to our destination – Paris. Before we left, we wrote the address down on a piece of paper so we could just hand it to the driver, since we didn’t speak French yet. We also had a time difference – Paris is seven hours later than Chicago, so we keyed in today’s date and 15:00 for the time. That would give us plenty of time to deliver before 18:00, our guaranteed delivery time.
When we arrived in Paris, we signaled for an Uber and within five minutes, it arrived. We handed the driver the address and we sighed with relief when he spoke to us in passable English. This was going well.
We arrived at our destination in about 20 minutes and we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was a five-star resort hotel and spa. We paid the driver and released him. We weren’t sure how long this was going to take and we didn’t want to hold him up. We already knew that we shouldn’t dress too casually when working, so we were surprised when some of the people looked down their noses at us. We ignored them and went to the front desk. When we got there we asked for François Chevalier. The desk clerk asked us to wait a moment while he called Monsieur Chevalier. After a moment, the clerk asked us what we wanted and I explained that we have a legal document for him from the United States and he must sign for it personally. After the message was delivered, he hung up the phone and called for a bellboy, who escorted us to Monsieur Chevalier’s suite.
Monsieur Chevalier met us at the elevator. He appeared to be about 18, medium height and weight, and he had dark, wet hair and brown eyes. He was barefoot, wearing a large terrycloth white robe, and dripping water onto the carpet. Danny introduced us as he pulled out a pen and a clipboard with our standard acceptance form on it. But before Monsieur Chevalier signed for the document, Danny asked him for proof of identification, explaining that he is required to verify the identity of the person who signs for the package. “But of course. Let me get my wallet.”
He was back in a moment and produced a photo ID that was written in French. All we knew for sure is that it had his picture in it and the name on it was François Chevalier. We thanked him and returned his ID. Then Danny handed him the clipboard and pen, and asked him to sign for the envelope, which he did. Danny took back the clipboard and I handed him the envelope. We thanked him and we were about to turn and leave, when he asked if we would like to join him and his guests for some refreshments, explaining that the documents were extremely important and that he was quite impressed with our insistence that he not only sign for them, but also show identification.
That’s when Other Danny’s words came back to us: “If you’re invited in, just do it!”
We looked at each other and Danny said, “Yes. I think we’d like that.” And we followed him into his suite.
= = =
Monsieur Chevalier insisted on having his driver drop us off at the Paris Hub, and we were home in next to no time at all. Unfortunately, we stayed way longer than we intended to. Fortunately, although we had a glass of wine or two, it wasn’t enough to even give us a buzz, but we were tired and our parents would be furious if we came in this late. Then we remembered… we could set the Chicago Hub for whatever time we wanted. We chose 07:00 on August 15 so we could get some sleep and then shower before we left. When we got to the hub, Chuck wanted to play, so we did. He seemed to realize that we were tired, so he left us alone and made the rounds of the 16 buildings in the hub.
After having a Coke and some peanuts, Danny and I went into the bedroom, undressed and got into a couple of the beds for some rest. As we were winding down, we reviewed the events of the last few hours. Danny began with, “François and his friends were really cool. I can’t believe how easy they were to talk with.”
“I know what you mean. And they all spoke English so well! Danny, we gotta learn French… and maybe Spanish… and German…”
“Easy there, Jerry! One at a time. How about starting with French? And when we’re fluent, we can pick another language.”
“I couldn’t believe how uninhibited François and his friends were!”
“I know what you mean.”
“I think the wine got me started.”
“Yeah, wine is evil. From now on, I’m sticking with Coke.
“But it was fun.”
“Yeah. G’night, Jerry.”
= = =
At 15:00 my alarm went off and I felt great! I was ready to go. “Danny? Are you awake yet?”
*yawn* “Yeah. What time is it? Heck, what day is it?”
“It’s 15:00 on Monday – August 15. We have to get moving. We’re gonna meet ourselves in 20 minutes or so.”
We got up and got ready for what was left of the day. I’m glad there were toothbrushes and toothpaste here; I had to get all the peanut and Coke crud out of my mouth. I turned the water on in the shower and waited for it to warm up before getting under the stream. A few seconds later I heard Danny doing the same. Not long after that we heard someone call out, “Who’s there?” You know what happens next, so let’s jump to where the guys who just entered are leaving on their quest.
= = =
“OK, they’re gone. What should we do with the rest of the day?”
“Let’s feed Chuck, and then go feed ourselves. I’m so hungry my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut.”
“I think I’m gonna get dressed first.”
To be continued…
Copyright © 2016 Binneyan Smith