another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory
AN ORLANDO SATURDAY by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | SEP 2016
This particular Saturday – September 10, 2016 – started at the McDonald’s on State Road 436 in Casselberry (Florida, USA). Monique (Agent 32) and I (Agent 33) were sitting, sipping our McCafé coffee concoctions at 7:47 AM, when Steve, Monique’s 39-year-old pinoy (a male Filipino) brother walked in the side door of the fast-food restaurant.
“Hey, bro, we’re over here!” Monique shouted to Steve.
Steve walked over, hugged his younger sister, and shook my hand. He then sat down across from Monique and me.
“Steve, would you like something to eat or drink?” I asked. “It’s on me.”
“Uh, sure,” Steve replied. “Maybe just an egg biscuit and some coffee.”
I went up and ordered while Monique and Steve chatted away in Cebuano (the dialect spoken in Siquijor).
When I returned with the food and beverage, Steve was patting his forehead with a hand towel.
“It’s just as steamy as Manila; isn’t it, Steve?” I posited.
“Yes, it’s about as hot,” Steve said. “It’s not even 8:00 AM, and I was sweating while walking over here from my apartment across the street.”
“Well, Orlando does cool off, bro, unlike Manila,” Monique stated.
“Yeah, just wait until November, Steve,” I added.
“I’ll be gone early Tuesday morning,” Steve announced between chomps.
“Wow! I’m glad that we came down here this weekend,” Monique said.
“Where are they sending you, Steve?” I asked.
“West Texas,” Steve replied. “Some little Podunk in the middle of nowhere.”
“Say, did Ernie give you a [psecret psociety agent] number, Steve?” I inquired. What?
“Not yet,” Steve answered.
The conversation died. Monique and I finished our java infusions as Steve devoured the final third of his biscuit.
Thirteen minutes later we were at a bus stop on the other side of Semoran Boulevard (SR 436). We were able to wait in the shade, as the eastern sun was still low in the sky.
“So, where are we going again?” Steve asked.
“The Harp & Celt in downtown Orlando,” I replied. “They’ll be showing the Liverpool – Leicester [City] game. They’ll have a ten o’clock game on before it. It should be fun. They are expecting us.”
Right then a 20-something Hispanic dude on a fixie (a modified single-speed bicycle) passed us on the sidewalk. “Fanks,” [sic] he muttered as we moved aside.
The Lynx bus came eight minutes later. We boarded and sat in the middle, on the left side. The bus was only 20% full. Traffic was still light.
Soon we were at the Fern Park Superstop, which was just an ordinary bus shelter where four local bus routes began and terminated.
“Well, time to switch buses,” I announced. I hope we get on the right one. His thinking in the morning is not the best.
“Which one do we get on, Parkaar?” [my ailing alias] Monique asked.
“The bus in front of us – the 102,” I answered. He had better be right. I don’t want to end up next to an alligator pond.
We all rose from our seats and marched off the bus. We then sat down in about the same place on the 102 bus. I wonder how long it will take to get to downtown.
Just as the bus started to pull away, a 25-ish, tanned, sandy-blonde-haired, shirtless lad with a long wooden skateboard, banged on the front doors. The driver stopped the bus and allowed him to get on. He sat down on the right, a few rows in front of us. He seemed very agitated; his head kept twisting back and forth. Is he on something? / He sure is acting odd. / Stange kano [Filipino slang for American] there.
Four stops later he got up and exited the bus. Once outside, he turned to the driver and asked, “Will another bus be here in twenty minutes?”
“That sounds about right,” the somewhat obese African American female bus driver said.
As our bus pulled away, I saw him with this very confused look on his face. I wonder what he’s on. He seems extremely disoriented. It’s like he ingested a box of Marezine tablets. [an over-the-counter motion-sickness medication that can cause delirium in high doses]
We were soon winding through Winter Park. I suddenly remembered that a long-brown-haired girl that I once worked with at the Pier 1 Imports store on East Independence Boulevard (now razed) in Charlotte (NC, USA) went to Rollins College. So, this is where Caroline went to school back in the mid-80s. I wonder what became of her. Hmmm … maybe she became a potter.
Five minutes later and the bus was in Orlando proper. We lumbered towards downtown in silence. Soon we were disembarking at the Central Lynx station.
We meandered around the downtown area, occasionally stopping to take pictures. Eventually we alighted on Magnolia Avenue and started walking south towards our destination.
“Well, guys, we have a lot of time to kill; we’re way ahead of schedule,” I announced. “It’s only 9:53. Our game’s kickoff isn’t until 12:30. Let’s look for a coffee shop to duck into.”
“A coffee shop?” Monique questioned. “We just had coffee.”
“Hey, there’s a lake over there,” Steve said as we were crossing Washington Street.
“Ok, let’s check it out,” I said.
Once across the street, we turned left and strided down to Lake Eola (just two blocks east).
I walked up to the primary bronze-plaqued monument. “This is Orlando’s first city park,” I shouted back to Monique and Steve. “It was established in 1883.” I then pointed to the large fountain in the middle of the large pond. “The fountain was added in 1957.”
“Thanks for that report, Agent 33,” Monique said with a grin.
The sun was well above the tree line now. It was in a three-letter word: Hot! I found a shady spot near the band shell and sat down. Monique and Steve followed suit.
“What is that for?” Monique asked, while looking back at the band shell.
“It’s for music and theater events, Monique.”
“Is there an event today?” Steve asked.
“I don’t think so, Steve,” I replied. “Just lizards humming about the stage.”
“A reptile rhapsody?” Steve suggested, and then chuckled.
I laughed for a few seconds with him. “Seriously though, you don’t want to get in any pond, lake or creek in Florida, Steve. There is a good chance that hungry alligators and dangerous snakes will be present.”
“You’ve already warned him about that, Parkaar,” Monique reminded me.
“Sorry about that, Steve. Senility is setting in. I’m 52 now, and I wish I knew what I thought I knew.” Huh? / What?!
A Latino American family of four strolled up to the Lake Eola plaque. They were really enjoying their morning together.
“Ready to go?” Monique suggested.
“Sure,” I said, getting the hint. She wants to get somewhere cool. I wouldn’t mind that, either.
In just six minutes we were entering The Celt (the sister restaurant of The Harp), as The Harp was still closed. There were seven Spurs fans at the bar watching the Stoke City – Tottenham game. I know that we’re early, but I don’t see any Liverpool fans.
We sat at a four-top table. Kathy, an Irish waitress (and owner?) came over and took our food and beer orders. We watched the game on the large projection screen over the front door. Then I noticed the score of the Manchester derby in the top-right corner. Wow, City beat United at Old Trafford.
“Hey guys, did you see that score?” I asked excitedly.
“No, Agent 33,” Monique replied.
“City beat United 2 to 1,” I said. “I’m sure that a Mourinho meltdown ensued.” I chuckled.
“Would it have been better for Liverpool if the game had ended in a scoreless draw?” Steve asked.
“Maybe so, Steve,” I answered. “But, any time United loses at Old Trafford … well, that’s hard not to like.”
Halftime came and went. The game turned into a complete rout by Tottenham. Their fans were loving it. Hotspur would go on to win by a score of 4-nil.
Then the British NBC announcers began to pump up the upcoming Reds – Foxes clash for the American audience. They were now showing a video clip of the enlarged main stand at Anfield. Where the hell are the LFC [Liverpool Football Club] fans in this town? I only see one liver bird shirt in here.
Kathy then stopped by our table. “Need anything else?”
“No, that’s ok, Kathy,” I replied. “Just one check. By the way, do the Liverpool fans show up right at game time?”
“No, they’re already here on the other side of the bar. [which was actually in between – and common to – both pubs] Just exit to the sidewalk, turn right, and enter through the red door.” Is the door red for Liverpool? No, don’t ask.
“Ok, thanks,” I said.
“Will you be ordering more Guinness over there?” she asked.
“Probably so,” I answered.
“Ok, I’ll keep your tab open. See you on the other side.” We’re going to ‘the other side’. / I guess we look trustworthy.
We left The Celt and marched north about twenty feet (6 meters). I opened the red door. The other side, The Harp side, was indeed full of LFC fans, save for one young, white, male, unsteady Manchester United fan who was throwing darts. He must be pissed. Why is he hanging around? Maybe he’s hoping that Liverpool loses, too. Yes, that’s got to be it. Then he can get a dig in. Well, we shall see.
We sat at a booth that offered decent sight lines to an overhead flat screen. Kerry, the leader of the Orlando LFC Fans chapter, then walked up and we exchanged greetings with her.
After a rousing You’ll Never Walk Alone, the match started. It was a Liverpool onslaught from the get-go. Firmino scored the first goal via a nice pass from Milner. Then a Henderson-Sturridge-Mané combination had the Reds up 2-nil, and seemingly in total control.
I turned to the late-50-ish Caucasian guy (John) on my right and said, “It’s looking really good.”
“Yes, so far, so good,” John said in an unmistakable New York City accent. “But, Lucas makes me nervous. He’s playing out of position.”
A few minutes later his words would prove to be prophetic. Lucas, typically a midfielder, was playing centre-back due to backline injuries. When he was pressured in deep, he made a big mistake by casually passing the ball to where Mignolet was no longer residing. The result: Vardy had an empty-net slam dunk. Oh, fuck! / Goddamit, Lucas!
I grimaced. John shook his head. Monique frowned. Darn!
“Well, John, you predicted it,” I said. “Could you tell me what stocks to buy, or maybe the next winning lottery number?”
He grinned for a half-second, but his rage quickly returned to his face. “I don’t know why Klopp kept him. It baffles me. He got old fast, and is now clunky. Plus, why is he playing him back there? That’s foreign territory to him. I know we have injuries. But, playing him as the central stopper?”
“Well, you know that Skrtel is gone.”
“Yes, and that’s fine by me.”
“He had heart and a furious passion, though.”
“Too much reckless passion. Too many yellow cards that became red cards. He was a loose cannon on deck. A liability late in games.”
The match reached halftime with the score still at 2-1 for LFC. Our discussion continued as they replayed the goals.
“Well, John, on a positive note, Firmino scored a nice one.”
“Yeah, that’s true. He certainly was due. But, why is his last name not spelled F-I-R-M-I-N-H-O, like Coutinho? He’s Brazilian, too, ya know.”
“You know, John, I wondered that, too, when they signed him.”
The conversation died. John wandered outside to have a smoke. I sat back down with Monique and Steve.
“This is an exciting scene,” Steve said. “You guys are really into this Liverpool team.”
“When you get settled, bro, you should join the nearest LFC chapter in Texas,” Monique suggested.
“I’ll do that,” Steve replied.
“Yey!” Monique exclaimed. “My bro is the newest Liverpool fan.”
“Great, Steve,” I replied. “The Reds nation has one more. You’ll never walk – or be – alone.”
Then the second half commenced. Any fears of the Foxes making a comeback were extinguished when Adam Lallana scored. A late, extra-insurance goal was tacked on by Firmino, after getting an assist from a most unselfish Mané.
As the triple-whistle sounded, the bar erupted into cheers. Beer glasses clinked together.
I then stood up and walked over to John. I noticed that he didn’t have a drink in his hand. “John, a teetotaler, are you? You’re a better man than me.”
“Teetotaler? No, not me.” John then moved aside and pointed to the table that was behind him. There were six empty beer steins.
“Oh, I see. You slugged them down earlier.”
“I just don’t like standing with anything in my hand.”
“I hear ya. Well, a nice win, huh?”
“We’ll take it,” John said with a burp.
“Hey, I wonder when we play [Manchester] United.”
“I think we play the evil empire in mid-October [scheduled for October 17] at Anfield.”
“Evil empire? Now, that’s funny, John.”
“I’m dead serious.”
The author (Agent 33) and his wife, Monique (Agent 32), meet up with Monique's older brother, Steve (no agent number yet), in Casselberry, Florida, USA. From there they take public transit to downtown Orlando to watch the Liverpool - Leicester City football/soccer match at an Irish bar. Some curious scenes and statements are noted along the way. Approx. 2200 words. Real-life accuracy: 95%. If this short story were a movie, it would probably be rated PG-13.