It has to be a dream. I know it isn’t. I’ve entered the alt ego world and can’t find my way back.
Tony holds my right arm and Fredo my left as they guide me toward Mario’s Ice Storage. The door opens. Lil Carlo steps out wearing a winter cap pulled down over his ears. He has a thick winter overcoat dropping down over his ankles. A thick woolen scarf wrapped four times around his neck. His hands are thrusts into his coat pockets. He looks like a capybaras, the dog size rat now in Florida.
“Here’s da package Carlo,” said Fredo.
The rodent speaks, “Hey, how many times I gonna to tell use to calls me Lil Carlo so’s nobody gets confused me with Bigger Carlo, and Really Big Carlo? I ought to put a bullet where you don’t want me to put a bullet if use knows what I means.”
Fredo raises his hand.
“What?” barks Lil Carlo.
Lil Carlo ponders the suggestion. Then says, “Three.”
Fredo says, “Deal.”
“Go get some clothes for this guy, he’ll freeze his nuts off,” said Lil Carlo.
“Hey, it’s a family blog. Cut that language out,” I said.
“I forgets. Anyway, everybody likes peanuts, the roasted kinds with lots of salt. Me, personally, I likes the kind with Sriracha sauce. It’s new on the market.”
“I believe peanuts are a legume, not a nut,” I said.
Lil Carlo pulls a gun out of the coat pocket. He points it at me. He said, “I believes use is incorrectly mistaken and appropriating the wrong meaning to peanuts. It looks like a nut. It tastes like a nut, so, I asks use, it must be a …”
“Nut?” I said.
“Good choice,” said Lil Carlo slipping his gun back into his overcoat pocket.
Tony brings me a stocking hat, gloves, overcoat, and cashmere scarf. “You’ll be okay if use don’t stay in the freezer for more than a half hour. If use in there more than a half hour, maybe your nose gets frozen. Although, I never heard of a nose falling off from frostbite, but if it did, it gots to hurt. Use looks like you could lose a inch or two and still be okay.”
“Thanks for the compliment,” I said.
“No problem. That’s the second thing I did for use. Use remembers the first thing?” said Tony.
Before I can answer, Big Carmen comes up to me and gives me a bear hug. I hope he didn’t break two ribs. He squeezed the air out of my lungs.
“I sees use is noy verse since use is having a hard time breathing. This is a normal reduction for peoples who applied for this position,” said Big Carmen.
I gasp, “I, I didn’t apply.”
“Ssshhhh. Use don’t want the family to hears that I did you a favor of a lifeline.”
Lifeline? Did he mean lifetime? I can’t follow these guys. How am I supposed to communicate with them?
Big Carmen turns me toward the back of the room. I don’t see anyone. “Where is everyone?” I ask.
“In da freezer.”
“In the freezer?”
“What I just say? I hates to repeat myself or repeat others. It’s like seeing reruns, which I never liked because I know how the ending ends,” said Big Carmen.
“Why, the freezer?” I ask.
“Why not?” said Big Carmen. Then he added, “I just teached (yes, he said teached) use a lesson. The lesson being never answer a question unless use answers a question with a question. Lets me gives use an example. Suppose the cops are grilling use and they say, ‘What can use tell us about Big Carmen?” Use say, “Big Carmen? or “Do use know how big Big Carmen is?” See what I’m saying?”
“I see what you’re saying.”
“Exactly. See, noboby ever got convicted of asking a question. They only get convicted for answering a question. Use follow me?”
“Every place you go,” I said.
“Now that is not true. Use do not follow me to the toilet. Nobody follows me there. Use don’t follow me to the confessional, which by the way is where I am every Saturday so I remain holy just in case.”
“I follow you,” I said.
He opened the door to the freezer. I’m staring at three guys with ski masks, stocking hats, winter coats, boots, gloves, and cataract sunglasses.
Big Carmen said, “The person of no interest on the right goes by Pepper cause he gots a hot temper. The person of some interest in the middle goes by Whale since he encourages those who disagrees with him to go whale watching. The person of considerable interest on the left goes by 5th cause that’s what he’s always pleading.”
“Very interesting,” I said.
“No, it is not interesting to use, never. If it is never interesting use can’t remember what is was that wasn’t interesting in which case if use are ever asked if use discovered something interesting in use job, use answers truthfully, use can even pass the lie inspector test.” said Big Carmen.
He turned to the three ski masks, “Dis is Ray, Fredo suggests we calls him Toe Food cause that what he likes to eat if anyone displeases him, if use knows what I means.”
Pepper, Whale, and 5th nod as if they’ve practiced the wave. I’m freezing. My teeth are chattering. I’ve goosebumps on my goosebumps. I read someplace what I’m experiencing is like canoeing down the Amazon and the canoe is surrounded by piranha. All you can do is paddle.
“So’s use is the new manager if we says use is the news manager,” said Whale.
“I don’t like the news. I never watch it,” I said.
The 5th stared at me, then huddled with the other two.
They broke the huddle. Pepper gestured to me with a crooked index finger the size of a brat. He said, “Perfect answer. Use is hired.”
At that moment, the alt ego universe stood still, if, for only a second. The door burst open, Tony and Fredo pulled guns. Big Carmen said, “Chill, it’s the beautiful, tough, and edgy model for Carmen’s Pizzeria.”
Pepper took off his cataract glasses and said, “She’s hot.”
Whale removed his cataract glasses and said, “How’d use get her Big Carmen?”
The 5th took off his cataract glasses, drool spilled over his lower lip. He said, “She got a boyfriend?”
Before Big Carmen can speak, La Flor said, “You can’t have Ray. He’s my agent. If you sign him up as manager, I won’t do anymore ads for Big Carmen.”
I wanted to kiss La Flor. I’ll never say a bad word about her again. La Flor, beautiful, tough, and edgy whatever she wants to be is my hero.
La Flor, wrapped in a $10,000 waist length fur coat, black leather spiked heel boots that clung to her calfs, her hands on her hips, glared at the Whale.
The Whale said, “The dame’s tough.”
Pepper said, “Yah, buts she’s beautiful.”
And the 5th said, “She’s edgy.”
Big Carmen said, “I can lose use Ray, but I can’t lose the beautiful, tough and edgy one. She’ll break my boy’s heart and step on it with those heels. Besides, my pizza sales are through the roof. Take them home Tony and Fredo.
“Can we makes a deal with the beautiful, tough, and edgy one to be his administrative assistant. She don’t have to do nothing cept looks beautiful, tough, and edgy. The three of us likes the eye candy.”
“How much will you pay me? What perks do I get?” asked La Flor.
“Huh?” Will this circus ever end?
Sketchy crowd Ray, glad you got out!