It was Tuesday, September 29, the day before the 1936 World Series started and Zach still didn’t have tickets. Zach and Charlie sat at a table in their hotel’s restaurant waiting for their breakfast. Charlie checked his watch as Zach stirred his coffee. Zach’s mind was miles away.
“How ’bout we leave tonight, Charlie? Head out to Niagara Falls ... it’s next on our list. We seen everything there is to see here.”
Charlie was stunned by his suggestion. However, he was right, everything on their list was checked off except for one last thing ... to watch the Yankees play in the World Series. He suspected that Zach didn’t want to remain in the city after the World Series started because everyone would be talking about it. For Zach, to stay in the city and not be able to see any of the games would be like rubbing salt in his wounds. However, Charlie’s plan was already in motion, and he needed just a little more time. If he could only stall Zach a little longer. The only problem was once Zach made up his mind, it would be almost impossible to change it.
Charlie checked his watch. It was almost nine o’clock when the waitress finally arrived with their food.
Zach noticed Charlie hardly touched his breakfast, which made him suspect something was wrong. “What’s the matter?” Zach asked.
“I ain’t feelin’ so good,” Charlie said. “I have to go back to our room for a little while.”
“It just came on all of a sudden?”
“Yeah, all of a sudden,” Charlie said rubbing his stomach.
“Ya want me to go upstairs with ya.”
“Nah, finish eating. I’ll be okay,” Charlie said. He got up from the table and went upstairs to their room.
Zach finished his breakfast quickly so he could go check on Charlie. When he entered their suite, Charlie was in bed resting. He asked Charlie how he was feeling.
Charlie said that his stomach still hurt. He appeared uncomfortable and anxious. Then he asked if Zach could find him something for my stomach.
“Sure,” Zach said. “I’ll go to the gift shop, I’m sure the they got something for a stomach ache.”
When Zach returned from the gift shop, Charlie was still in bed, but he didn’t look uncomfortable anymore. In fact, he seemed to look a whole lot better. Zach handed Charlie a bottle of Pepto-Bismol when something caught his attention. He began to sniff the air like a bloodhound tracking a scent. “I smell ... onions?”
“Onions?” Charlie said as though Zach had to be mistaken.
“What’s going on here?”
“Nothing,” Charlie insisted.
“Yeah, then why ya got ketchup on your shirt?” Zach said pointing directly at the stain. He began to inspect the room carefully. Then he dropped to his knees and looked under the bed. He slid out a tray with an empty plate on it. It had small pieces of onion and ketchup on it. He pressed his finger on the onion. It was still soft and warm. “What’s this?” He placed the tray on Charlie’s lap. “Why did ya ask me to go all the way downstairs to get ya something for your stomach? Why ya saying you’re sick when ya obviously ain’t?”
Charlie had been caught and he knew it. “I started feelin’ better? So, I ordered an omelet.”
Zach didn’t believe Charlie, he was an awful liar, and suspected that he was up to something. “That fast, huh?” Zach said. “Ya felt sick, then all of a sudden ya felt better? Charlie, ya never lied to me before. Ya gonna tell me what this is all about?”
“I can’t,” Charlie replied.
“Fine,” Zach said. “I’m leaving today ... in fact, I’m gonna start packing right now.”
Zach stormed out of Charlie’s room. He marched straight to his room, removed his suitcase from the closet, and began packing.
Charlie entered Zach’s room with a worried look on his face.
“Look,” Zach said, “it ain’t that ya got an omelet. It’s about trust and ya lying to me. Something’s up, and ya can’t even tell me what it is. I thought we were better friends than that.”
“We are friends, that’s why I can’t tell ya,” Charlie said. C’mon, Zach just stay ’til tomorrow and then we can go.”
“Why ya wanna stay here?” Zach said. “Ain’t like we got a reason to stay anymore. We ain’t got no tickets.” He closed his suitcase, pulled it off the bed, and set it on the floor.
“Okay,” Charlie said, “I’ll tell ya.” He figured it was time to tell Zach what was going on and ruin the surprise. It didn’t look as though it was going to happen anyway. It was already nine-thirty, and nobody had contacted Charlie about the tickets yet.
“I know how upset ya are about not getting any tickets to the game,” Charlie said. “So I—”
Suddenly there was a knock at their door.
“What, more food?” Zach asked. He went to the door to see who it was. When he opened the door, he found a rough looking character standing in the hallway. He was wearing a hat and suit. It reminded him of the first time he saw Smitty when he invited them to dinner for Mr. Graziano.
“You Charlie?” the man asked. He had a raspy voice and a thick Bronx accent.
“No, what’s it to ya?” Zach replied.
“I got something for a Charlie,” the man said.
Charlie appeared at the door. “I’m Charlie.”
The stranger slid his hand inside his jacket, removed an envelope from his pocket, and handed it to Charlie. “Someone called in a favor. It wasn’t easy getting these.”
“Thank you, I didn’t think anyone was coming.”
“I got caught in traffic,” the man said. When Charlie handed the man money, he held up his hand. “It was taken care of by our friend.”
Charlie removed a twenty from the small wad and handed it to the man. “Here, this is for you, and thank you.”
The man took the twenty and slid it in his pocket. “Thanks, enjoy.” Then he turned and left as quickly as he arrived.
Zach stared at Charlie. He was trying to make sense of what had just happened. “Charlie, who was that guy? What was all that about?”
“Here,” Charlie said. He handed Zach the envelope. “Just open it, it’ll explain everything.” A smile grew on his face as he watched Zach rip open the envelope.
“Tickets! We got tickets!” Zach said.
“I called Mr. Graziano the other day. Remember, when I had to talk to a man about a horse? I asked him if they knew anyone up here that could get us tickets. He said that he might know some people that could help.”
“So, ya knew they were coming, and that’s why ya faked being sick.” Zach said.
“Yeah, I had to be here at nine o’clock, and I couldn’t think of any other excuse. Sorry for lyin’ to ya.”
“I understand why ya did it,” Zach said. He practically had tears in his eyes. “And I’m sorry for getting nasty with ya. You’re the best friend anyone could ever have. How could I ever thank ya?”
“It wasn’t nothing,” Charlie said.
Zach examined the tickets closely. He saw that they weren’t for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium as he had hoped, but instead for Game 2 at the Polo Grounds. It didn’t matter though. He knew how difficult it was getting tickets, and he was grateful. “We’re going to the World Series, and we’re gonna see the Yankees, the Yankees, the Yankees,” Zach sang while performing his version of the Irish Jig.
Charlie saw how happy Zach was, and it made him laugh.