|I got this friend Mike. Always gotta do a one-upper, if you know what I
mean. Been that way from the time we was kids.
Take swimming class. I was real excited. Learned how to float real good. I says to Mike, "Look at me. I can float." He says, "Aw, that ain't nothin'. Catch this." And he goes and dives off the high dive.
In high school I thought I had him. Got a date for the prom with that cute girl next door. Blonde, blue eyes. Then I meet Mike at the entrance...the prom queen on his arm. If that don't beat all.
Well, I got me these binoculars, see. And I'm gonna take 'em over to Mike's house. Show him what they can do. You know, impress the heck outa him. It's the house right over there.
"Hey, Mike, my man," I say when he comes to the door. "Got something to show you."
He ushers me in, eyeing the box I'm carrying with suspicion. I let the corners of my mouth go up. I know I have him now, but I'm gonna take this one slow. Real slow. Savor the moment, the way victory should be savored.
"Let's go upstairs, and I'll show you what's in my box."
"Okay," he says, and leads the way.
At the window in his bedroom, I slowly take the lid off the box, as if I'm unveiling a painting. He's trying to act cool, like he couldn't care less, but I see him peeking.
"Binoculars? You came all the way over here to show me your binoculars?" He rolls his eyes. That's because he don't know that these are special binoculars.
"Here," I say, handing them the set. I try to act as casual as I can.
"What'd you want me to look at?" He takes the binoculars from my hand and looks at me, other hand on his hip.
I smile. "Try that lady on the opposite side of the street. She's carrying a newspaper. What do the headlines say?"
He shakes his head, puts the binoculars to his eyes, and says, "'Tornadoes in Mid West kill 28.'" He lowers them, irritation written on his face, and says, "So?"
I exhale loudly. What does it take to impress this guy? I look out the window again. "Try the man mowing the lawn two blocks away. What color are his shoestrings?"
"Red," he says, looking through the binoculars. "So?"
"What'd ya mean, 'so?'" I'm getting mad now. This guy really tests my patience. Least he can do is act a little impressed. After all, these are high-powered binoculars. He just doesn't want to admit that I've finally topped him for a change.
He puts my binoculars on his desk, pulls out a drawer, and takes out a pair of his that look a lot like mine. "Here."
My mouth falls open. "You got a pair, too?"
He jerks his chin to the window. "Take a look."
He comes and stands by me and points. "Look straight ahead."
I roll my lips together and give him an exasperated look, then I put the binoculars to my eyes.
I see across the rooftops to the Rocky Mountains covered with snow and past that. I see the ocean. Little grass huts. The Eiffel Tower. The Statue of Liberty.
And then I see the backs of two men standing at a second-floor window, one with his hands up like he's holding something to his face. The other guy turns around, winks, and waves. Wait a minute. It's...Mike. That dirty, no-good...
He's got me again.