says Les, "but I didn't know the road to the one around here would be
washed out." Lou broods for a moment. "I know," says Lou, dragging
the words out.
The next day
Les's Cadillac leaves Ensenada for Desert Hot Springs, Calif. Les is driving,
Lou's mother is next to him and Lou is in the back seat pinned in by luggage.
Except for the crackling of a lunch bag, out of which Lou is eating hard-boiled
eggs, it is a quiet, strange trip. "Les," says Lou's mother, "I'm
thirsty. Let's stop." Lou does not want to stop. He must get to the mineral
baths! He relents after a 40-mile debate.
"Lou has been
very sick," his mother says while at the rest stop.
some sort of bug?"
she says. "It's arthritis. It runs in the family. He's been in the hospital
for a month."
"Is that when
his hair turned white?"
"No, his hair
has been white for three years. He's been dyeing it, but I talked him out of
The trip resumes,
and Lou remains silent except for one moment of sudden reflection. "You
know," he says, "I have always just gone along with the tide. I never
wanted a whole lot." At Desert Hot Springs, Lou struggles out from under
the luggage and stares at a steaming mineral bath. "I'll lick this damn bug
here," he says. He then shakes hands with his visitor and says, "Well,
you have it all. Lou Nova the fighter, the actor and the inventor."
later a large envelope arrived containing a page out of a newspaper, a mailing
piece and a letter. The newspaper page was entitled "Women Today." The
word "Society" in the article was underlined by blue pencil. The
mailing piece, a flyer Nova had gotten up, showed a woman turned upside down on
a padded metal frame, and the text urged the reader to strengthen his weak
back, massage his internal organs, correct his dropped abdomen, refresh his dry
skin and tone and firm his "measendature" by using the Yogi Nova—a
"Lou Nova Invention, which has already been recognized as a contribution to
the 6,000 year old Indian science." The letter explained: "Am back in
Hollywood about 99% back to normal. Am flipping up on the Isometric Yogi Nova
like I was 25 again. I guess I will have to give up playing football. That was
kind of a bad accident, falling on my back when catching that pass. You know it
put me in the hospital for two weeks, and took me about three more to get well.
Les is coming over soon. We are going to take a steam bath at the hotel. They
sell my Yogis there at the Health Club. Had a nice recovery at Desert Hot
Springs. Also came away with a nice tan." Eventually, too, Nova came away
with three good movie parts, including his old role in The Happiest
leaping from the letter, was another message, one that the reader must feel and
understand. Nova was saying that he was not in Ensenada anymore, that he was
not a loser or just one more pitiable example of the classic aftermath of the
fighter and that, man, he is not ready for Saturday nights with Lawrence Welk
and a hot cup of tea. He was saying that he had always been sort of The Happy
Scuffler, and that now he was sure to be a successful inventor who would be (as
the enclosed article related) a big hit once again, stretching his legs, doing
body bends, standing on his head and doing a ringlike dance to show his
nimbleness—right in the fanciest department store in L.A. Just read the
letterhead, Jack, and then forget about the trumpets crying low. It reads: NOVA
STANDS THE WORLD ON ITS HEAD! It also tells what he was, is and always will
be—the javelin record holder from Alameda High just trying to keep his name
scrawled on the subway wall forever.