About five months into my employment at the Hobfield house, things started to get a little weird. Mrs. Hobfield disappeared almost entirely (but thank the lord my “to do” lists kept materializing every morning complete with intricate hand drawn maps of where the furniture should be that day), and whenever I saw Mr. Hobfield, he seemed nervous, but overcompensated by being very jocular with me. He knew that I had taken a few art history classes in college, and was also a big movie buff, so he would brag that parts of the original Thomas Crown Affair had been filmed in his family’s house on Louisburg Square. That’s how it was on Beacon Hill. They weren’t satisfied to have one multi-million dollar home, they had to have three or four, like an inbred game of monopoly. He would tell me the story of meeting Steve McQueen over and over again, never varying any of the details. I liked it the first twenty times or so. Even Pima seemed out of sorts lately. When I asked her about it one day during lunch, she just dismissed my concerns.
“You relax keeeler, and focus on moving theese couches, huh?” She had called me “killer” ever since my first day of work for some reason, but with her accent it always sounded like she was calling me the guy from NPR who talks about Lake Woebegon. Keeeeler.
The next time I was in the wine shop I asked about the Hobfields. Dean was the owner, but everyone called him Dino. They said it with respect, much more like Dean Martin’s nickname than the Flintstone’s pet. You see, Dean used to be a boxer, and nobody fucks with him.
“Don’t know much about the Hobfields. We used to deliver up there, but nobody ever got past the front door.” Dino never says a bad word about anybody though, except the New York Jets. God, he hates the Jets, but that’s a story for another time. “You must know more than us. Shit, nobody else has lasted this long working for them!”
“Except Pima.” I said.
“Who?” He responded
“Oh yeah. Pink dress, never tips.” Dino didn’t care, he never accepted tips anyway.
The fake Rockefeller case had just broken, and Dino’s younger brother Nicholas was talking about the times “Clark Rockefeller” had come in the store.
“You could tell that guy was a bullshit ahtist the minute he opened his mouth. Ahlways droppin’ names, and the guy was queeya as a football bat too! With that pink sweata tied around his neck over a yellow polo sheart, I don’t know who he thinks he was foolin’. I guess that woman he mahried!” Nicholas always laughed after everything he said, whether it was funny or not. “All these Beacon Hill types are the same; they all got skeletons in tha closet just like that Rockefella guy.” At this point, a woman with a stroller came in the shop so Nick laughed quickly, then stopped talking.
I took it as my cue, and headed up the hill with my cases of wine and Gordon’s gin (why do the rich ones always buy the cheap shit?). When I got to the house, I loaded all the stuff in the elevator and headed upstairs. I must have hit the wrong button, because the next time the doors opened I was on the third floor, and the first thing I saw was Mr. Hobfield hunched over an antique desk with a uniformed Sergeant from the Boston police. ‘Oh shit, the place has been robbed’ was my first thought, but there is a sophisticated alarm system, and besides, I would have heard about it that morning if it happened last night. Before I could apologize, Mr. Hobfield spun around and hissed at me.
“What are you doing up here?” His eyes glowed like a cat that’s pissed off at you, only bigger, and wearing a bow tie.
“Sorry Mr. Hobfield. Wrong floor. Sorry.” I said.
The elevator doors closed and I exhaled. I had never seen the old man that pissed. The cop never budged. Not even a flicker. He didn’t turn around, but the back of his neck looked like it meant business. I was glad it was Saturday and I had the next two days off. It ended up being forty-eight hours of stewing and wondering what the hell was going on at the Hobfield residence……