“No, no.” I said, “You’re right. I really don’t want to know. I just want to go home. Please, call us a taxi.”
“Sorry, I can’t.”
By now, I was sure my blood pressure was about to burst an artery.
“Well,” he said, “I don’t care who knows, so I’m going to tell you anyway.” He smiled like a
good friend who’s about to tell you something no one else will. “It’s ______ ______’s house,” he said with great pride.
Then, his cell phone (which he wouldn’t let us use to call a taxi) rang. I leaned against my husband and whispered, “Who is _____ ______? I never heard of him.”
“Shh,” he said. “Tell you later.”
“Now!” I commanded. “Right now!”
“Okay. Okay. He’s the CEO of _____________. Probably one of the richest men in America. A billionaire many times over.”
Some people memorize the big board at Wall Street’s Coliseum as zealously as the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium. To them, gladiators in The Fortune 500 League are as familiar and admired as pitchers in The American League.
After a few minutes, we learned there really is a Brian. He’s smiling. Friendly, actually. He said a driver would take us to the nearest gas station to get the right mix for the boat. We told him that we had no money.
“We’ll take care of everything. We want you out of here as soon as possible, before our boss knows you’ve been here. It’s taken us so long because we were already on another surveillance when you arrived.”
No wonder The Hamptons are referred to as a war zone. In summer, simultaneous invasions overwhelm the troops.
The butler phoned the driver, “Listen, these people are elderly. You’ve got to have some respect. You can’t just keep them here. It’s hot. They’re tired. They don’t have shoes.”
Elderly! And here I was feeling so athletic, hoisting myself onto the bulkhead!
The driver appeared and told us to get in the car; it didn’t sound inviting. He gave us three bottles of cold water, but berated us for being out in a boat without phones or money or ID. As a New York cop, out here on a private security gig, he informed us he would throw us in jail if we were in the city. “That’s the law!” Like a big brother half our age, he advised us never to be without ID again.
By this time, I was truly miserable. I felt kidnapped, held against my will in a car. I said I wish I
could go home. My husband asked, “Would you please take my wife home, so she doesn’t have to deal with the boat again. Maybe it won’t start up. Maybe it will take a while to resolve things.”
“Sorry,” says our chauffeur, looking as if he stepped straight out of The Godfather. “My instructions are to take you to the gas station and back to your boat. Nowhere else.”
When we returned to where it is we don’t want to know we are, which belongs to him whose name we also don’t want to know, everyone was smiling and nice to us. “We’re so sorry. You just can’t be too careful these days.”
They explained that their boss, who has gates and armed guards and cameras, feels vulnerable to an attack by sea.
We three elders in our baseball caps and bare feet probably met the criterion for his most
terrifying fantasy. Meantime, his protectors must have checked our names. Apparently, we did not appear on The Most Wanted list. Nor were we on a roster of Navy Seals.
The two tough guys filled up the boat’s gas tank. They helped us to our seats with the respect and care elderly people like us suddenly appreciated. They started the engine. Like twin James Bonds, they jumped from the boat onto the bulkhead in one smooth motion. They managed to do all the dirty work without mussing their hair or soiling their suit jackets. They wished us well. Up on land, above us, waving, they almost looked like cadets, saluting us for a job well done.