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Danny Montoya
January/February 2010

 

Baffled in the large section of Home Depot devoted to lighting fixtures and bulbs, Jerry Mandel has spent the last six or seven minutes trying to find small frosted 40-watt bulbs for the fixture over his wife's and his bathroom mirror. Finally, he asks a young guy with a shaved head and a complicated tattoo on the left side of his neck wearing an orange Home Depot apron for help. "Mr Montoya is the lighting guy," he says. "I'll call him over."

A minute or so later, a small man, dark, bald, chunky, wearing black-framed glasses and with a walk that has a bounce to it, arrives to ask Mandel what he's looking for. 

"Sometimes they hide these things pretty effectively," he says, after Mandel tells him. "But we'll find 'em for you." The name tag on the pocket of his apron reads "Daniel." Mr Montoya. Daniel. Daniel Montoya. Danny Montoya. It takes a moment for it all to register. 

"Danny! Danny Montoya!" Mandel says. "Are you the same Danny Montoya I played tennis with back in the early 1950s at Senn High School?"

"I did play tennis at Senn," he says. "Sorry, but I'm not sure I recognise you."

"That's all right," Mandel says, "these days I often don't recognise myself. I'm Jerome Mandel. Me. Jerry."

As Danny Montoya stares at him, Mandel can see that he still hasn't picked up on his name. "Oh, yeah," Danny says, at last. "It's been a long time."

"Only half a century or so." Mandel puts out his hand, and Danny Montoya shakes it. "What've you been doing?"

"Long story," Danny Montoya says. "I've got a break in roughly half an hour. What say I buy you a cup of coffee at the lunch joint at Target next door? We can catch up then?"

"I'll meet you there," Mandel says.

"Meanwhile, let's find you those bulbs," says Danny, which he quickly proceeds to do. 

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