“I thought this wasn’t supposed to happen until I was 16,” he said, holding the driver’s license out in front of him, afraid to put it in his wallet.
Lehman tapped the license on his new birth date.
“Yeah,” agreed Erving. “I’m 16 now.” It was like being promoted to captain at school. The Commandant had the power to make cadets whatever rank he wanted them to have. His father, far more powerful than the Commandant, could promote Erving to 16 if it pleased him, and it had, so now Erving was going out on his own to f^ck women and get penicillin shots. He was to get those shots no later than a day afterwards, condom or not.
He put the driver’s license in his wallet. “Why does it say I’m from Vegas?”
“So people don’t figure out who you are and take advantage of me,” said Lehman. “I’ve got something else for you.”
Lehman was carrying more clippings than usual this vacation. Erving watched patiently as his father searched his suit. The search was delayed by stops to read several of the clippings.
“We are going to send you to one of those Waspy New England prep schools soon.” said Lehman. “You should go to New England on your trip and look at them. Pick one out you like.”
Exit from Elsinore Naval and Military School? Another stunning gift. Erving’s mind spun like an Bell slot wheel loaded with jackpot symbols.
“And after you graduate there, we will send you to Harvard,” said Lehman naming the only elite Eastern college he could remember. “Or Dartmouth,” as another name had popped into his head. “Because you’re so smart.”
“Everything Waspy?” asked Erving. “Prep school. College. What about Jehovah?”
“He’s incompetent.” Lehman eliminated the divinity from his grand hotel and his son’s life with the same awesome authority he had used to page his son as Captain Chick Evans, promote him to 16 years old, and dismiss a favor stalker with a scribbled slip.
Finally Lehman found the clipping he was looking for. “Take it with you,” he said. It was a picture of a teenage Spike, a handsome young athlete with a crew cut and a modest smile. Below the picture was the story of Spike’s shooting 58.
“Thanks, Pop.” Affection flooded into Erving’s chest and washed away his stores of sarcasm with turbulent waves of gratitude. He knew his father couldn’t have a lot of time for any single person, not even his son, because so many people needed Lehman. Lehman was an attraction for an amazing parade of interest. You had to be around it for a couple of days to understand how intense and sustained it was. All the movie stars and V.I.P.s, they thought themselves the star everywhere, but they were just cameos in Lehman’s life. Lehman was so much more than the head they worshiped in their mirrors. The President of Turkey and Elvis, they were only spirals of smoke rising from the fire of Lehman’s cigar.
“Look at this,” said his father catching on to his son’s admiration. He showed Erving the red lined score card on the other side of the page. “Look what he did on the back nine.”
Erving felt his father’s arm on his shoulder as Lehman pointed out birdies and eagles 1 by 1. His breath was all over Erving, cigar pungent, yet sweet.
During moments like this Erving was like a comet coming to the sun after a deep orbit through space. Most of his other life was spun out in an ellipses so long it almost merged into a straight line during its cold winter verso in military school.
Now so close to Lehman, he was burned by his father’s charm and powers, and he did what mammals had done with their love for their fathers since it had happened 1st in the time of squirrels or dolphins or monkeys or wherever it started. He made his father his god.
“Plant 1,” Lehman said, handing the magazine to Erving and pointing to his whiskery gambling-all-night cheek as the location for a farewell kiss.
A bit spendy, this gift, because it has trinkets ripped right from the story, and its own special cover, all offered in a wooden box which looks like it might be full of gorgeous Havanas. Click on the > to see some of your over-priced souvenirs and your special limited production new cover.
But don’t buy this until you are rich and famous, and all your friends and family have everything they need, and you want to confuse the sh^t out of someone you have a deeply ambivalent affection for. Or maybe you want one before the price goes to $500.00