The way the pendulum swings |

The way the pendulum swings

by Ron Walker

Orllyene and I are invited to dinner by George Holmes and his wife. George is a first-class comedian in our Montreal show, and we are both home in Las Vegas at the same time.

The dinner is going very well when the telephone rings. Mrs. Holmes answers it and says, “This call is for you, Ron.” (Strange, very strange. How would anyone know we are here?) I take the phone and hear, “This is your next-door neighbor. (Heavy pause.) Your house is on fire!” Without thinking I say to Orllyene, “Sweetheart, we have to leave. Our house is on fire.”

My first thought, once in the car, is maybe this is all a big mistake. But on the freeway, I change my mind. Off to the west where we live, I see a plume of smoke. I try not to think about what might be happening at this very moment. Orllyene sits near me, rigid with fear. She has her hands over her eyes.

When we pull up in front of our home, a crowd has gathered.

A fireman walks over to us.

“You the owners?” he asks. I nod.

“You are fortunate that the fire went straight up and didn’t spread throughout the house,” he says.

I walk around to the side of the house and see a fireman chopping away at a burnt part of the second story deck. The house is covered in stucco and looks good, but the roof over the dining room is gone.

When we call our son, Randy, to tell him about the fire, we are told he is in the hospital with a concussion after taking a spill off his motorcycle. Then, as we are leaving to stay at a hotel, I walk over to the mailbox and take out a letter. It’s from the Internal Revenue Service. I am to be audited. This is further complicated because I leave for Montreal in three days to set the dance numbers for our new show. This is the year I grow up.

When the pendulum swings one way, it can be devastating. But when it swings the other way, it can be serendipitously splendid.

“Rawn, Kumari and her husband (long-time caretakers) need to go back to Sri Lanka for two months. Would you and Orllyene like to stay at our house in Pesaro, Italy?” (This is my former boss, Tibor, speaking, and so many good things have happened as a result of Tibor, I grab the chance.) Two round trip tickets arrive by mail. We don’t find out they are in first class until we check in. A chauffeur picks us up at the airport in Milan and drives us to Pesaro. The house is palatial. It sits on a 40-acre swath of private hillside overlooking the Adriatic. To do our exploring, we are given the use of a deluxe Range Rover.

Back yonder, when our home was ravaged by fire, the renovations were accomplished to our complete satisfaction; the IRS audit fizzled out; and Randy, long ago abandoned his motorcycle and now drives a black Porsche Cayenne.

There is so much in life to feel good about — it is simply a matter of waiting until it arrives.

Ron Walker can be reached at