When James was a boy he was faster than a speeding jet.Â Itâ€™s true. Never lost a race. Not once. And there were plenty.
He was nine at the time and lived in a mid-Wilshire area building whose apartments faced each other across a narrow courtyard that ran from the tops of steps up from the street out to the back where the garage was.
Usually He hung out with either Danny from across the street, or with Suz who lived with her Austrian mom and dad in the same building. Danny, who liked to steal Hershey bars from the market around the corner and brag about it, once fingered him for a window he had broken in a building down the street. Got James in a lot of trouble. But not to let a bad deed go unpunished, he ratted him out to the marketâ€™s manager, telling him it wouldnâ€™t be a bad idea to keep an eye on Danny around the candy aisle. Less than a week later he was busted trying to lift. Manager called the cops and had him arrested and everything. Suz was tomboy cute and whenever James’d make her mad â€” which was often â€” she used to call him a rubber pig in Germanâ€¦ which sounded something like â€œgoo-me-shwine.”
The way it worked was that if James happened to have been playing by himself outside around the front of the building, at the sound of an airliner roaring from the east so far up that it was practically just a dot against the endless blue sky, he would drop whatever it was that I was doing and rush to lineup at my designated starting line at the top of the steps. There he would wait until the plane was exactly directly overhead, and then heâ€™d take off and run for all he was worth to the garage in the back, flying down the grassy median with the units flashing by on either side of him.
When heâ€™d get there James’d look up and without fail, and the plane would be just a split second behind him. Sometimes heâ€™d even give them a head start, but always catch and pass them. Always.