I WAS CRUISING through my senior year in high school and doing pretty well. However, during my senior year of high school, something happened with Solomon Schmidt that would change my life forever. I woke up very early one morning, when Solomon turned on the light in my room.
Solomon whispered, “Boy, I need you to drive me to the Hollywood-Burbank airport, now!” (Unless it was a very formal occasion, Solomon didn’t ever address me by my name, just as ‘boy.’)
What the hell, I got up, threw on some clothes and then drove Solomon to the airport. (Solomon didn’t like me at all. The only reasons that he tolerated me were my mother’s insistence and the fact that I was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and that sort of thing was good for his local image. However, I depended on Solomon for room, board and incidentals, so I had no choice but to put up with Solomon’s attitude.)
As I drive, Solomon lectures me, “Boy, I’m involved in some big, dangerous things. If I can pull off what I need to do this trip, your mother and I are set for life. I’ll also finance your college education. However, if I fail, you have to take care of your mother.”
“I’ll always take care of my mother, as best I can. However, I’m just a high school student and I can’t earn any kind of real money.”
Solomon looks out the windshield with a very grim expression. “In the gym, there’s a stair stepper machine. Under the stair stepper machine is a locked steel door. The key to the lock is on a key ring in my jewelry box. It’s the gold colored key. There’s enough money in the safe below the steel door to let you and your mother live for at least a year. You don’t touch that money, unless I don’t come back.” Solomon then gives me the combination to the safe.
I have no idea what to say. I just drive for a bit and then we get to the off ramp for Hollywood Burbank Airport. I drive in and let Solomon off, where he tells me.
Solomon departs, without so much as a goodbye, lugging a smallish suitcase.
Mission accomplished, I drive back out to the freeway and then back home to Arcadia. As I drive, I try to determine what in the hell is happening. By the time I get home, my mother will be up and I’ll get some answers.
* * * * *
I GET HOME and my mother is up. I tell her, “I just drove Solomon to the airport. I want some answers.”
My mother takes a sip of her tea. She then lectures me, “Solomon grew up as a poor boy. He got in with some people who were involved in some lucrative, but often illegal, businesses. Solomon made some money and then even a lot of money. He spent a lot of money building and furnishing this house. He then put a lot of money into some sort of business thing. If all goes well, he’ll be rich enough to live out the rest of his life, take care of me and also finance your education. If all doesn’t go well ..., Solomon may not come back.”
I sit stunned. “Then, what happens to us pretty much depends on if and when Solomon comes back.”
“That’s all we can do now, just wait.”
With no option at all, we wait.