Eddie House’s knee was bouncing and he was biting the nails on the hand that wasn’t holding the phone. He was in the parking lot of Janet’s Flowers. The floral arrangement of twelve tulips he’d just picked up sat in the passenger seat of his Mercedes CLS-Class Coupe and he had his head on the steering wheel while the defroster purred the ice off his windshield. He’s on the line with the league office and he’s pissed off, man.
“Lemme use that Phantom cam,” he begs, “Please?”
He had been on the phone with Stern for thirty minutes and Stern was being his usual self, not budging.
“No, Eddie,” said Stern, “If I give it to you then everyone will start asking me for it.”
He had a big Valentine’s date planned for him and his wife and he wanted the dancing portion of the night to be videoed. And he wanted that video to be slooooow.
“D.S.,” said House, “Come on. I’ll get it back to you the day after without a scratch on it.”
Stern stood firm in his no.
“Eddie, it’s not going to happen,” said Stern.
House hung up the phone and lowered his head, dejected. The Phantom cam was his favorite thing in the world, next to his wife. He wanted to have his two favorites meet and merge for Valentine’s Day.
His wife was going to cook the two of them dinner. The plan was to play a mix CD after they ate the Molten Chocolate Cake dessert he’d gotten to-go from Chili’s. He’d made the CD special for that night. It opened with K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life” and closed with “Adorn” by Miguel. He’d also sprinkled in some Joe and a little Zapp & Roger. They’d drink and they’d dance and he’d video them as they swayed. Then he’d give her the video of the two of them dancing for her birthday in March. He was going to string up some white Christmas lights in their living room to set a mood and achieve some of that soft light she was always saying she loved so much. He really felt like it was the perfect plan.
And Stern wouldn’t let it happen.
Home now, House sat rocking in his black leather recliner and thought on what he could do. He realized after an hour that he couldn’t do a thing. Nothing. Stern wouldn’t give it to him and he had no other way of obtaining the camera. Wasn’t meant to be. His nose tingled. He started to cry.
Then the door opens and it is his wife and she looks lovelier than ever. She sees his wet eyes and asks him what’s wrong. He sniffles. Says he’s fine. She says he’s clearly not.
He stands up and walks to the window and looks out on the snowy streets.
“It’s just,” he began as he walked over to look out the window, “I wanted to give you something special for this Valentine’s Day and the thing I want to give you isn’t something I can get.”
He began to tell her of the Phantom camera. She scratched his back as he spoke and she saw sadness in his eyes and she thought it was sweet and she loved him more for it. She grabbed his lowered head and lifted it. She made eye contact with him.
“I don’t need slow motion, baby” she said, “I just need you.”
He loved her. He abandoned the plans and turned on the CD then because you know when you need to dance and they both needed to dance. K-Ci & JoJo began to crawl into their ears. They grabbed each other and danced slowly and glided on the hardwood floors of their kitchen. She was soft against his cheek.
They danced till the end of the mix and it was perfect. He didn’t need the Phantom. His life was great without it. He opened two Stiegls and handed her one. They sat on the love seat and he put his arm around her and they fell asleep watching a rerun of Dallas.