Ralph E. Moore Jr.

By Ralph E. Moore, Jr.,
Special to the AFRO

The SEARCH is a story continued from last week’s printed edition and online at AFRO.com

…By that time, the taxi driver made his way over to where we thought we had found Vic.  “Who’s gonna pay for your cab ride here? And don’t forget I got your suitcases in my trunk!”

“Pay the man!” I said to Chris. “Put a crowbar in your wallet and pay the man,” he in turn said to Erich.

Erich reluctantly reached for his wallet and handed him a few bills from it.  The driver went to the trunk, chucked our bags on the sidewalk and peeled off down the street. 

“Be careful, this is a rough neighborhood!” he hollered out the window in a classic New York accent, speeding away.

“I’ll say!” I said as we looked around. I reached for the slip of paper that was in my pants pocket to find the exact address that was the last known address we had for Vic. 

“I’ve got a map,” Chris said. 

“I’ve got a small flashlight, hold on,” Erich said. 

“No, you hold on,” the big gun said, staring at us in front of the six gang members who appeared out of nowhere. “What are you gringos doing here?” 

“We’re not gringos, we’re brothers, man,” I said.

“Sorry, brothers, now give me your wallets!”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a New York City Bus pulled into that corner where we were being robbed. We hopped on it to the surprise and dismay of the confused gang members.  Fortunately our bags were close enough to grab, well most of them anyway. My duffle was the one left for the gang to rifle. One of them held it up as they were laughing when we looked through the back window of the bus.

“Enjoy my dirty drawers!” I hollered, causing 12 or 13 people on the bus to turn around to look at us.  I might have said that too loudly. 

“You can borrow some of my things,” Chris said.  

“And I’ve got money,” Erich said. 

“Did I ever tell y’all how much I’m earning with my summer job?” 

“Not today, you haven’t,” I muttered under my breath.

“This isn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be,” I was thinking when Chris said, “This isn’t going to be easy, guys.” 

“Let’s call it a day,” Erich declared. And it was then that it hit me, we hadn’t made a reservation at a hotel.  It was quarter to nine, 94 degrees and we didn’t yet have a place to stay.

“Where’s this bus headed?,” Erich wondered aloud as he looked out the window.  “Stop the bus, stop the bus,” he shouted up front. “I see a hotel!”

The hotel was a pretty gloomy place, a hooker stood in the lobby between the two elevators and the clerk at the desk had a face full of zits.  “Where y’all from?”he asked. 

He had to be about 18 years old, dirty blonde and a little too nosey and cheerful for that hour of the night.  “Baltimore,” we said more or less together.  

“Are you with the Orioles?” he said to me. “Are you Paul Blair?!!! You play center field, right?!!” 

“Yeah, and I’m John Mackey, Erich said and I play for the Colts.” 

“And he…” Erich went on, pointing to Chris, “…is Earl ‘the Pearl’ Monroe with the Baltimore Bullets! Now don’t tell anyone we’re staying here. We don’t want our fans knocking on our door harassing us for autographs.”

“No problem,” the hotel desk jockey told us.  “Your secret’s safe with me. But can I get your autographs please?”

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