Monday, November 28, 2022 Nov 28, 2022
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A Man Forgot His Face Mask. You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next.

Sometimes, magic can happen in the most unexpected places.
By | |Photography by Tim Rogers
Face Masks
Tim Rogers

Jack Sulak was running late for his date, a fact that irritated him to no end. He prided himself on his punctuality, if nothing else, and there wasn’t much else. Jack liked to brag that he could name all 50 state capitals in under two minutes, but he was pretty sure he couldn’t do that anymore, and, in truth, he never really could. He thought Bozeman was the capital of Montana—it’s actually Helena—and no one ever called him on it.

So Jack was already annoyed with himself as he neared the door of the Uptown restaurant, not quite jogging but definitely moving faster than a walk. As he slowed down to gather himself before entering, he saw the sign, polite Helvetica on a sideways sheet of paper, informing him that all guests were required to show proof of their vaccination status to enter. 

Jack didn’t mind; it was the least he could do. But he knew before he even instinctually patted his pockets, doing a kind of lazy Macarena of jeans-jeans-jacket-jacket, that the card showing his freshly boosted status was at home, next to a tangle of jokey, now mostly worthless cloth face masks. (His favorite was the one with the actual bottom half of his face on it.) 

He knew the sign wasn’t enforceable, and he could probably get around it by making the mildest of stinks. But he didn’t want to be the kind of guy who made stinks, even very mild ones, about this kind of thing. In addition to being punctual, Jack liked to think he was the kind of guy who had principles, and most of the time he even believed it. He sighed so heavily he could feel himself get lighter, almost lifting off the sidewalk. 

“Crud,” he mouthed and reached again for his pockets, this time to retrieve his phone so he could tell Ellen he was going to be even later for their date. After glancing at his screen to unlock it, his gaze reflexively turned toward the parking lot, a guilt tic he had picked up reading too many New York Times stories about phone addiction. And that’s when he saw—no. What? How?

Jack shook his head like he was a hungry man in a cartoon whose best friend had just turned into a steak. He couldn’t be seeing what he was seeing. But he looked again and there it was. 

There he was, running around the passenger side fender of a Mercedes GLC Coupe: Luka Dončić in full Dallas Mavericks uniform, down to his shooting sleeve and crisp blue-and-green Air Jordans. Thirty-five feet from where Jack was standing, Luka suddenly came to a stop, like he hadn’t even been moving, and took one giant step backward and to his left. He coiled into his shooting motion and sent something arcing toward Jack and the front door of the restaurant, the small object’s trajectory so impossibly high that Jack thought he was imagining it, too.

A second or so later, he felt something softly nestle into his hands, which he had cupped in front of his waist without realizing it. He looked down. It was his vaccination card, tucked into his favorite cloth face mask. 

How did he do it?! How. Did. He. Do. It?! 

Jack looked back at the parking lot, but Luka had turned away, running back around the Mercedes and slapping hands with a few valets making their way back to their stand.

“That is Luka Magic,” Jack said to himself and opened the door. 


Zac Crain

Zac Crain

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Zac, senior editor of D Magazine, has written about the explosion in West, Texas; legendary country singer Charley Pride; Tony…

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