I’m sitting at the table. My yogurt, oatmeal, fruit sit in from of me. My cup of hot dark roast coffee in my hand. Everyone is sleeping. I turn on my iPad and tap the USA Today app to check the headlines. Everything is normal. Chaos in Washington. Chaos in Europe. Chaos in the Middle East. Chaos in Asia. I click on sports, the Sox beat the Yanks in the first game of a crucial three-game series. I click on local news. Two headlines grab my attention:
Thieves Hit Steinberg’s Jewelry Boutique Cleaned Out In Overnight Heist
Strange Breakin at the Museum of Rare Small Boxes
My right-hand starts shaking. I set my coffee down spilling some on the table. Will La Flor be sporting a Steinberg’s classic diamond? I enter into stage one, denial. Impossible. Big Carmen wouldn’t do this. Lil Carlo is too old to try. Little Carmen, not smart enough. I feel better. Until . . .
“Ray, Ray, Ray look at my ring?” La Flor prances into the dining room in her pajamas. Her right hand extended in front of her. I’m nearly blinded by the flashes of light given off by a ring so large I can’t see her knuckle.
“Ray, Ray, Ray look at La Flor’s ring,” said La Flor’s echo, AKA Carmela.
“Did I do good, Ray-mo?” asked Little Carmen.
“Can I get you coffee C,” said TT to Carmela.
C? TT and C?
La Flor sidled up next to me and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry, TT is practice. He doesn’t stand a chance.”
“When did Little Carmen give you the ring?” I asked.
“You missed it. It was so romantic. I thought Carmela and TT were going to pass out.”
“Where did this happen? How did it happen? You sure it’s not hot?”
“Think like a romantic, Ray. You’re tabloid, hemorrhoid, anthropoid, and typhoid,” La Flor said with a hint of edge.
“Did you mean paranoid?”
“Toss that one in too,” she said.
“Where did you get those words?”
“We played Scrabble after our Romantic dinner.”
“Scrabble after an evening of romance?”
“It was TT’s idea. Never listen to him. He has no clue. Good thing LC made him help me so I could win,” said La Flor.
“He was playing against you. Yet, you made him help you?”
“I didn’t. LC did. We went to Carmen’s Pizzeria for our romantic date.”
“Yes. He closed it just for the four of us. He had a four-piece band and Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga sang for us.”
“Bennett and Gaga?”
“What’d I say? Big Carmen brings out a hot pizza with all my favorite toppings, cooked the way I like it, and a bottle of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945.”
I ask Siri what that bottle of wine costs. Siri replies, “23 grand. Enjoy.”
“I’m worth every cent. On top of the pizza is a little wooden stand in the middle. On the wooden stand is a small expensive rare box that one can only find at a guarded museum that is probably worth more than everything you own. LC picks up the box. Opens it. And, gives it to me.”
“Did he ask you to marry him?”
“Details, Ray. Details. I’m a big picture woman.”
“He put this rock on my finger. You’ll have to cut my finger off to take it from me.”
I want to ask, “Did it come with a gift receipt? Did Amazon deliver it?”
“You didn’t hear the best part,” La Flor said.
“Big Carmen comes over and gives me a hug. Then he goes and gives Tony Bennett a hug. Then he hugs Lady Gaga.”
“That’s the best part?”
“No, after he whispered something to them, Tony and Lady Gaga came over to request my autograph.”