Life isn’t supposed to be this way, even in the alt ego world. I’m not supposed to be connected to the mob. Okay, my grandmother ran numbers, that doesn’t mean anything. It was a community service. Now I’m in a pickle. I’m face to face with a 1000 pound gorilla. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I’m paddling upstream without a paddle. When I get anxious, I mix metaphors. I’m mixing and I’m going to continue to stir the pot. There’s no way I can shake this hook. Enough, I silently scream. I’m driving myself nuts.

It’s tough enough to muster the courage to propose. I used to chide Babe (my wife), she proposed to me. She always said no. I think someplace in heaven she’s shaking her head at me telling me I got it wrong.

How am I going to teach Little Carmen to propose? How am I going to get La Flor to accept his proposal? Big Carmen doesn’t take failure well.

I’m pacing. I’d say back and forth, but that’s only partially right. I’m circling, quadrangling, boxing, and elipticalling. My mind is like a gymnast doing floor exercises until . . .

“We’re back,” hollered La Flor from the doorway.

“We’re back,” hollered Carmela from the doorway.

“We’s back, Ray-mo,” said Little Carmen.

Okay, they’re back. All parties accounted for.

“What’s for dinner, Ray?” said La Flor.

“What’s for dinner, Ray?” said Carmela.

“Enough with the echo,” I said.

“Bad day?” asked La Flor.

“I got things on my mind I can’t discuss with you,” I said. I added, “Take my card and your protégé out for sushi. I need man time with Little Carmen. I want to talk about our fantasy football league, the season’s coming up,” I lied.

“Oh? I don’t think so,” said La Flor.

“Busted,” I said. “I want to help him get a head start on his Christmas shopping for you.”

“Good idea, but remember I was La Flor PI before I was La Flor beautiful model.” Then she added, “We need to talk before you and LC need to talk.”

“Yah!” said Carmela.

La Flor turned her gaze toward Carmela. Two ice picks darting from La Flor’s eyes had an immediate effect on her.

“I think I spoke out of turn. Can I go and shine your shoes, polish your jewelry, bath myself in the beauty of your photos that cover your wall,” begged Carmela.

“She wants to learn, Ray. But, she’s not the brightest bulb in the closet. Her escalator stopped running. Her pepperoni pizza doesn’t have any pepperoni.”

“I get it. Are you anxious?”

“How can you tell?”

“The overuse of metaphors.”

“Little Carmen, will you walk to Starbucks and get us our usual afternoon caffeinated drinks?”

“Does I gots to walk?”

“It’ll be good for your love handles,” I said. He doesn’t have any on his chiseled body, which is the primary animal attraction for La Flor.

“I don’t feel any handles. Use thinks they could be knobs or something I don’t know nothing about?”

“I do,” I said.

“Thanks, Ray-mo. Be back in a jiff. Is it jiff or jif or jiffy? I gets confused.”

“Jiff is fine.”


The moment Little Carmen left, La Flor flung her arms around me. She buried her head into my chest, “I too young to die, Ray. Please, please help me,” she pleaded.

“You’re not dying,” I reassured her.

“If I marry him, I will. I read your blog. Please convince him I’m not worthy of him. Feed him Carmela. Put out a contract on him. Anything. I beg you.”

What am I going to do?

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