Chapter 9 -- Wooing Sunny


Thursday morning I awoke early, dressed, grabbed my transmitter and went out for pancakes and coffee. The stores opened around 10 a.m. so there was time to go grocery shopping and buy some expensive cuts of meat and cheese for my "Fella." When he saw me this morning he did not bark a sound but started wagging his entire body back and forth in excited anticipation. Reaching both hands through the wrought iron bars I gave him a big hug, putting my face next to his. Quickly giving him the treats I carefully grabbed the top cross bar of the wrought iron fence and jumped and pulled myself up onto the top. Then making sure not to land on the Doberman, I jumped down into his backyard for the first time. He was instantly all over me -- with sloppy licks and kisses. He was so tall that when he stood on his hind feet, he could place his front paws on my shoulders and I could hug him just like a person. He loved having his ears and hind quarters scratched. After about fifteen minutes of quality time with Fella, I leaped back over the fence and quietly made my way back to my car around the block.

Next I went to a sporting goods store and purchased an outfit for tonight's volleyball game. I selected some fairly tight black shorts; a black, white, and yellow T-shirt; a nice pair of tennis shoes; and some tube socks with yellow bands around the top. In addition I purchased a sweat suit and gray lightweight jacket to wear over my new outfit. It was cool in DC this time of year. At the checkout counter I threw in a pair of sunglasses. Be cool I thought. My new outfit looked good on me. My legs needed a little more tan but the muscles showed well when I flexed my legs in the shorts. I felt as prepared as I could be.

That night I wanted to arrive at the same time or even before Sunny. If there was any pairing off I wanted to be paired with Sunny. I had to get to her before Rob or any other admirers. Once again I cruised her block starting at 6:15 p.m. She came out and departed around 6:40 making a right turn onto N Street and headed towards South Capital Street. I drove through the intersection and turned right onto M Street which ran parallel to N Street. Increasing my speed I was able to reach South Capital Street and turn left before she did. As she pulled into the church parking lot I was already parking my car.

"Hello," she said as she exited her Mustang.

"Hi, Sunny. I'm glad you're here, I probably won't know anyone else." That should put pressure on her to stay with me I thought to myself.

The gym felt warm as we entered and sat on the bleachers to remove our outer clothes. She wore a baggy blue warm-up suit, but she still looked great. Always such a beautiful smile and face. She pulled the bottom of the warm-up down and over her tennis shoes. Awesome, what perfectly shaped legs. Try not to stare I kept reminding myself. Next she unzipped the top and took it off. I couldn't restrain myself anymore.

"You are beautiful," I stressed each word. As I reached the word beautiful I saw a frown cross her face. Quickly recovering I continued. "It's no sin to be beautiful. Look at me, I'm chronically handsome and I've learned to live with it."

"You're definitely not ugly," she conceded with one of her smiles. "Everyone tells me I'm beautiful, it seems to be very important to guys -- they all point it out to me."

"Well, I'm not the guys. I think you're beautiful and I want you to know that. You've been on my mind all day."

With that she was flustered. After a pause, she said, "Come on, lets go warm up."

Church volleyball had quite a range of participants. Men, women, girls, and boys. Ages probably ranged from eleven to fifty-five with the majority in the range of eighteen to twenty-five. Skill levels ranged from a few women who actually tried to dodge the ball when it came their way, to some stud guy slammers who thought they were playing professionally. Rob was one of the latter group.

There ended up being enough people for three nine-member teams, so that one team would rest in the bleachers and play the winner of the match in progress. Sunny and I were on the same team. I made sure of that so we could talk while resting in the bleachers.

Rob was on one of the other teams. On purpose I was sure, so he could humiliate me and impress Sunny. He actually wore knee and elbow pads which I concluded were to keep him from hurting himself when he dove after spikes.

Rob's team beat our team 15-4 the first game. He had a real "Type A" personality -- winning was everything! He slammed the ball indiscriminately into the faces of little old ladies, kids, anyone. Most of our team were afraid of him. This is lots of fun I thought sarcastically. I'm really impressed. In addition, all of the people who wanted to win were on Rob's team. Sunny said it was always like this with the other teams alternating in and out. She had somewhat of a winning spirit herself -- being a little cheerleader on the court.

"You guys want to win the next game?" I asked those in the bleachers loudly.

"I'd give a week's pay to beat those guys," Sunny stated. They all agreed.

"Well lets gather around and use our recess constructively," I suggested. "I'm about Rob's height so I'll try to pair off against him. He'll start at the net so he can spike the ball. If we serve first I'll line up one position away so that he'll rotate in front of me when they go on offense." We then proceeded to pair each player off against their best match on the other side.

"Richard and I are tall enough to slam the ball. Try to set the ball up for me or Richard. We'll place ourselves so that one of us will always be near the net. Everyone play their position, we'll beat them as a team." I then showed them how to get low and put their arms in a position to defend against spikes. "Just keep the ball in play. People on each side of you will close in for the second hit. Be quick and agile."

"Let's show a new attitude out there, make some noise, have some spirit, have some fun. We need a name."

"A name?" Sunny asked.

"Yeah, like the Chinese Bandits, the Stone Wall, or the Terrible Turks," I answered. We became the Terrible Turks and decided we would huddle and put our hands together in the circle. Then the team captain, they elected me, would shout "Terrible" and everyone would reply by shouting "Turks" as we clapped our hands together and broke the huddle. Anyone could call a huddle by simply shouting "huddle." We had to do it quickly or the referee sitting atop a stepladder at one end of the net would call a delay-of-game penalty. Her primary functions were watching for anyone touching the net and keeping the correct score.

The other game ended and our newly invigorated team ran out onto the court and huddled on our side of the net. Everyone put their hands in and I said, "Okay let's do it. We can beat these chumps." Then I shouted, "Terrible," and everyone followed with "Turks" as we clapped our hands and positioned ourselves according to our plan with a new confidence.

"Ohhh...We're scared" I heard Rob say sarcastically.

We served first, they set it for Rob and he nailed it to the floor on our side. They rotated so that Rob was now in front of me. They served, and we managed to return it. They set it for Rob. We left the floor at the same time and I felt the slam hit my arms, then chest, then saw the ball bouncing high back over the net. They set Rob again and I blocked it again. Each time a roar of approval came from our side. A third time they set the ball for Rob to spike. This time he faked the slam and catching me at the apex of my jump, gently tapped the ball over my outstretched arms.

Instinctively I turned in mid air, brought my right leg out and up as in a karate kick, slowed my leg to softly bounce the ball up towards my head as my right arm swung in an arch, slamming the ball back over my head and the net to a startled Rob. It hit him in the chest and fell to the floor. Everyone was bewildered. After some argument as to whether my foot had hit the ball, we were awarded the serve.

Now we rotated so that I was one person removed from Rob on the front row. This located me in front of a short stocky teenager that I proceeded to slam twice on good sets from Sunny. The third time she set me Rob couldn't resist. He ran from his position to be a hero and block the slam. As I faked the slam with my right hand, my left hand gently tapped the ball back to the position he had vacated. All the Terrible Turks laughed at that.

The score became close again. Now because of the rotation I was located at the net opposite from the judge and scorekeeper. This left Rob on the net at the far side across from our fifty-year-old female "dodge the ball" artist. It was our serve. We're in trouble! We served the ball and of course they set it up for Rob's killer spike. As he dramatically went up high and his arm came down in a blur to slam the ball, I innocently bent my left arm at the elbow, pulled the net down a few inches, and quickly let it go as Rob crushed the ball back over the net! All the while my innocent looking face was staring through the ball to the judge on the far side. She blew her whistle and shouted "Net" as she awarded us the point over Rob's protest that he never touched the net! We received three points before I stopped shaking the net. The only person who saw what was going on was Sunny who was laughing in the middle row behind me. I finally allowed Rob to slam the poor woman as Sunny whispered in my ear, "You should be ashamed."

"I am," I confessed as we both laughed. Later, I witnessed her pulling the same trick.

We went on to win that game and stayed on the floor almost the entire night, beating Rob's team three out of five and remaining undefeated against the other team.

A dramatic transformation occurred that night as everyone on our team became something new -- a winner! The fifty-year-old lady and the clumsy kid who was pathetically slow returned a few, the little girl who never served the ball over the net, actually served a few over! Everyone gained a new confidence in themselves. Sunny was ecstatic! Every one of the Turks wanted to know if I would be there next Thursday. I answered honestly that I did not know -- but you guys are winners and can win without me. Rob had already vanished.

As Sunny and I were putting our warm up suits back on she was just bubbling over. "That was incredible," she paused. "You are some special person."

I lowered my voice and responded, "Special enough to take you out tomorrow night?" No immediate response. "It's a Friday night date night. Perhaps you already have plans." Another moment of silence. She was killing me!

It seemed like an eternity before she looked me in the eyes and said, "I think I would like that. Call me tomorrow at about 5:30." She wrote her phone number down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. Then she added, "Are you married?"

"No," I responded, trying to act a little hurt. "If I was I wouldn't be asking you for a date."

I walked her out to her car, opened the door for her, said goodnight, and watched her drive away. As I walked along the church wall over to my car, a crouching figure sprang from behind the bushes. Rob grabbed my jacket with both hands as he held me up on my toes against the brick wall.

"You think you're hot stuff, huh stud?" While he was in my face saying something to the effect that he would kill me if ... blah,blah,blah; I was thinking here I am trying to save the world and this little twerp could interfere. Perhaps if I mark his face up a little he would stay away from Sunny for a few weeks until he healed. That's all I would need.

Deciding to do it I quickly brought my arms up between his at the same time as I brought my knee up into his groin. He gasped and went backwards. As he came straight up my left fist came around and connected half-heartedly with his right eye. That should generate a black eye. As both hands came up to his face in defense I hit him in the stomach with the full force of my right hand. That left him bent over, gasping for air. As he fell to his knees I politely said excuse me, got in my car, and drove to my hotel. So much for that little annoyance.

When I was in town in the future months Sunny and I always made an effort to attend the Thursday night volleyball games. We both looked forward to Thursday nights. It became another source of relaxation and stress removal as was my running. I needed it since I was going to be under a lot of stress. Rob never showed up again. Perhaps he changed his religious affiliation.

However, we quickly discovered I had created another monster. All the better players now wanted to be on the "Terrible Turks" thus creating a perennial winner. I suggested it would be more fun for everyone if the teams were more evenly matched. We began forming the teams under a new procedure. Once we decided how many teams were needed so that everyone could play, we would select that many captains. The captains would then take turns choosing individuals for their teams. This tended to even out the talent among the teams. Thursday night volleyball became what it was meant to be -- a time for all to enjoy and have fun, what the church called "fellowship." Word quickly spread and the last time we attended there were enough players present for six teams.

Talk had started about playing volleyball on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

As I now read the last two chapters, they seem mundane and childish -- certainly not "James Bondish" as one would expect. The world's greatest secret agent meets a girl in church and impresses her at a volleyball game? Get real! Will holding hands at a movie be next? My only defense is that it is real. That's exactly as it occurred. Truth can be stranger than fiction.


Proceed to Chapter Ten.                             Table of Contents.                         Questions or comments?