Is She Dead?

Chapter 6

Nonna placed three saucers and cups on the table. She walked to the kitchen counter and lifted an old coffee percolator and carried it to the table.

“You boys need cream, or you men?” she said.

Zeke said, “No cream for me, Nonna.”

“That’s a my boy. What about you, Palitroni?” asked Nonna.

“If I have sugar, will I still be a man?” asked Mickey.

Nonna stared at him, “I never know a Palitroni who’s a real man. You just like the rest of your scum family. No sugar. Grow up,” said Nonna.

“Mickey’s okay, Nonna. His mother, Gina, was a Strollo. She left Tubby Palitroni when Mickey was four. Then she got an annulment because Tubby was involved with Mary Luizzi,” said Zeke.

Nonna whacked the side of her head and then blessed herself four times, “The Luizzi’s they worse than the Palitroni’s. I tell you Tubby’s a no good son of a you know who,” said Nonna.

Mickey said, “Who?”

Nonna looked at Zeke, “He’s a not too bright of a bulb, am I right?”

Zeke shrugged his shoulders. He knew Nonna was right, but didn’t want to hurt Mickey’s feelings. Zeke took a sip of his coffee, set it down, picked up a biscotti and dunked it into the coffee before taking a bite. When he finished chewing his biscotti, he said, “I love your biscotti. I can’t find good biscotti in stores, where do you get them?”

“My friend, Angelo Marcella, he got a friend who has a friend, who knows somebody. That’s how I get them. Now no more small talk. I got things to do. I can’t waste my time talking to two losers, now what you got for me to help you with?” asked Nonna while she took the plate of biscotti’s away.

Zeke said, “We got a problem. You know Tony Gallino?”

Nonna said nothing. She closed her eyes. For a moment, Mickey thought she died. He nudged Zeke and mouthed, “Is she dead?”

Before Zeke could say a thing, Nonna said, “I’m a not dead you jackass. You still got a lot a Palitroni in you. Now keepa you mouth shut while Zeke tells me about Tony Gallino.”

“It was this way, Nonna. Mickey and me were in Gus’s bar having a few beers because we had a tough day.”

“That’s a bullsheet. How can you have a tough day at ten in the morning? No more lies big or little.”

“How’s she knows this stuff?” whispered Mickey.

“What I tell you Palitroni, keep a you mouth shut. I gotta the inner eye. I know things nobody knows, even me,” said Nonna.

“Well were in Gus’s bar talking about this and that when Tony Gallino walks in. He says he’s looking for Mickey and me and he wants us to do him a favor. He says he has box at one of those postal stations in Brockton. He wants us to pick it up a package. I’m supposed to hold on to it until he tells me to bring it to him. He said not to open it or shake it. I’m supposed to hide it so nobody knows nothing about it. He already gave us a hundred and he’s going to give us another hundred when we bring the box to him. We figure if we do a good job, he’ll hire us, then we’re on easy street. Gus thinks we’re crazy for getting involved with Tony. We’re also on a first name basis. What should we do, Nonna. Do we give Tony his money back? Do we pick up the package?”

Nonna had her hands folded across her belly. The index and thumb fingers of her right hand were twisting a gold wedding band put on her finger by Rocco.

What will Nonna tell the boys? Will Tony Gallino like what Nonna tells the boys?

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Choose to Rise – Never Quit

Have you ever been knocked down? Have you ever felt like you can’t keep going on? You’re not alone. It happens to everyone. Some people quit and stay down. They lost the will to get up and fight with every last ounce of strength. And others struggled to their feet. They rose while still weak, they chose to fight. They chose to continue the struggle. They wouldn’t quit. In the following short YouTube video, Donte Whitner has a lesson to touch you and me. Thank you for the lesson Donte.

Quote for Today – November 19, 2017

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift”. ~ Mary Oliver

Want to be Successful?

We all want to be successful. We all have or had a dream we want to reach. We don’t always get to where we want to go. Is there a secret to being successful? Have you ever thought, ‘Why not me?’ I have. In the following short YouTube video, you learn the 8 secrets of successful people. It’s worth watching. I hope it provides you with the inspiration and knowledge to achieve your dream.

I Put A Curse On Him

Chapter 5

Zeke pulled his fifteen-year-old sort of red, sort of yellow, a lot rust Chevy in front of 118 Walnut Ave. The only space left was in front of a fire hydrant. He took before someone else pulled into it. Nonna lived on the first floor of a three-floor home. Mickey opened his door, whacking it against the hydrant.

“Sorry, Zeke. The hydrant was in my way,” said Mickey.

Zeke got out of the Chevy. He climbed on the trunk of car in front on his Chevy and jumped down onto the sidewalk. He looked at the ding and said, “It’s nothing. It matches the other dents.”

“You’re the best friend, Zeke,” said Mickey. His breath carrying an overpowering smell of beer and garlic.

Zeke winced. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a roll of Life Savers, took two Life Savers and handed the roll to Mickey. Mickey took six Life Savers and handed the roll to Zeke.

Zeke said, “You can have it.”

“Thanks, Zeke,” said Mickey unwrapping the remaining Life Savers and putting them into his mouth.

The boys walked up the short sidewalk to the steps. They climbed the four steps to the landing. Zeke opened the door, walked down a short hall with a single light bulb hanging from a cord, past the stairs leading to the second and third floors, and knocked on the door. He stood in front of the door.

A voice from the inside, “Who’s a there?”

“It’s me, Nonna, Zeke.”

“Zeke who? How do I know you aint a crook or a rapist?”

“Come on Nonna, I’m Zeke Junior, but I don’t like to use the word junior.”

“You should a said so at the first. You got anybody with you? I can tell there’s somebody out there besides you.”

“It’s me, Mickey,” said Mickey.

“Mickey who? You could be Mickey the Mouse for all I know,” said Nonna.

“It’s Mickey Palitroni, Nonna. Can we come in, we need advice,” said Zeke.

“I never liked Pauli Palitroni. You can’t trust him. He’s dead now because I put a curse on him. I think the rest of them are okay. I let you boys in,” said Nonna.

Mickey whispered to Zeke, “Uncle Pauli died when he was 98. The curse musta worked because he told everybody he was going to live until he was 110. It goes to show you, you never know.”

The oak door swung open, in the doorway stood a five-foot two-inch woman, wearing the same mid-calf length black dress mourning her husband Rocco who died twenty years earlier. Her hair, mostly gray was streaked with the black hair of her youth. It was pulled tight into a bun on top of her head. A simple silver chain with a crucifix hung around her neck. She was holding a butcher knife in one hand and a wooden crucifix in the other hand.

Zeke paused in the doorway for a moment. Mickey stayed two steps behind Zeke. Nonna took off her glasses to get a better look at the two friends. She lowered her knife and said, “Don’t harvest grass you don’t recognize.”

Mickey took a step toward Zeke and whispered in his ear, “What is she talking about?”

Zeke kept looking at Nonna and spoke out of the side of his mouth, “Who knows? Ever since Nonno died, she said his spirit possessed her and he speaks through her.”

Nonna said, “What chu waiting for? Come on in. I make some coffee and give you boys a biscotti. We talk like old times. Come here and give me a hug.”

Nonna put her arms out wide. She still had hold of the knife and the crucifix. Zeke embraced her and they kissed each other on the both cheeks. Zeke stepped aside, and Mickey took his place in the greeting ritual.

Nonna stepped back, “You breath stinks like a hell. I got to give you something for that. You never get a woman smelling like that.”

Nonna led Zeke and Mickey to the kitchen table. She went about her business putting coffee on. She walked into a small pantry and brought out an unopened package of Biscotti and put four of them on a plate. She brought the plate to the table. Mickey reached for one. Nonna whacked his hand with her hand, “What chu doing? You Palitroni’s got no class. You wait for the coffee. When we all sit down, you can talk to me and tell you good advice.”

What will be Nonna’s advice? Will Zeke and Mickey listen to her?

Pickled Eggs are a Health Food

Zeke shrugged his shoulders, gazed into his beer for an answer. His mind as empty as his bank account. Mickey didn’t like silence, it made him feel edgy. He twisted on his stool and turned toward Gus, “Hey Gus, I got a question for you?

Gus who was now washing the same mugs and shot glasses for the third time, turned his head toward Mickey, “What?”

“Does Tony’s offer for free drinks keep going until he says it stops? Like, can we come in tomorrow for free beers or the day after? Is it good on holidays like when the Patriots win?”

Mickey’s thought process shook Zeke out of his trance. He twisted his head and looked at Mickey and Gus. He wasn’t sure what Gus was going to say.

Gus placed the mug in hands on a tray. He picked up a towel and wiped his hands. He took a step toward Mickey, “You guys are in over your heads. When you walk out the door, the free ride is over unless Mr. Gallino personally tells me to keep you on the free ride. Capice?”

“Don’t have to get hot, we done nothing to you,” said Mickey.

“I’m telling you where I stand and what I think. Finish your beers and take off. I don’t want to be caught in the middle of nothing. Come back when it’s all over,” said Gus.

“What if we want to come in for a pizza?” said Mickey.

“Okay, I got a big heart. You can still come in anytime you want. But you can’t talk about the stuff you’re doing with Mr. Gallino. That’s just between him and you.”

Zeke waved, “Appreciate it Gus. This is like a second home to us.”

“It’s like my first home,” said Mickey thinking he was sucking up to Gus.

Gus shook his head, then he turned, went into the back room and returned with a large bag of mixed salted nuts and a large jar of pickled eggs. He began to fill dishes with the nuts and placed the jar of pickled eggs in the center of the bar. Next to the pickled eggs, he placed a pair of tongs.

Mickey was reaching for the tongs to snag a pickled egg when Zeke grabbed hold of his forearm and pulled it away.

“Whatcha do that for? Pickled eggs are a health food,” complained Mickey.

“I know what we gotta do to figure out this situation?” said Zeke.

Zeke had Mickey’s attention.

“We’re going go see Nonna,” said Zeke.

“You’re lucky, your nonna is still alive, mine died ten years ago. I miss her. Life’s not the same without her. She made the best meatballs and spaghetti,” said Mickey draining his beer.

Gus, keeping an eye on the boys, went back on his word, filled another mug of a dark draft and slid it down the bar. Mickey has missed one in ten years. His record is still intact.

“Nonna’s ninety-two and she’s got the inner eye. She can see into the future. Remember how she told Gino his daughter was going to knocked up?” said Zeke.

“She called that one. Didn’t she call the Patriots winning over Atlanta? I put ten bucks on the Pats on her word. I think she’s the one put a hex on Atlanta,” said Mickey.

“That she did. She told me before the game, she was going to put a hex on Atlanta. She didn’t like the uniform colors. She still tells the family what to do. Nobody crosses her. Finish your beer, we gotta talk to her,” said Zeke.

“You think she’s home?” said Mickey.

“She’s either home, in confession, but today’s not Saturday so she’s not there, or she could be at Sylvia’s house. Since she and Sylvia live across from each other, we gonna catch her.”

What’s Nonna going to tell the boys? What is Tony Gallino up to? Will the boys find a way out of their jam?

A Refresher Course in Teamwork

If you’re anything like me, you’re independent, self-reliant, and have an inner belief you can handle anything. I discovered that worked for me until . . . it didn’t work anymore. There are times when no matter how strong and self-reliant we are we need other people or we won’t make it. It’s a humbling experience to reach out my hand to grasp that of a person extending their hand toward me to pull me up. For me, it was LESSON LEARNED. The following short YouTube video demonstrates how geese already learned this lesson. They rely on each other as they fly in formation. Enjoy the refresher course on teamwork.

Quote for Today – November 17, 2017

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. ~ Abraham Maslow

It’s Our Lucky Day

Chapter 3

Tony Gallino told Zeke and Mickey what he needed done. The boys nodded. Tony left without saying a word. Gus kept washing beer mugs and shot glasses. He wanted no part of what he heard.

Zeke turned to Mickey, “Looks like our luck finally turned, we’re rolling in clover.”

Mickey placed his mug to his lips and let the beer roll down his throat without so much as a swallow reflex. He finished, put his mug on the bar, burped, and wiped his face on his bare forearm. He turned to Gus, “Gimmie one of those expensive dark beers. Put it on Tony’s tab.”

“Me too,” said Zeke.

“This is how it’s got to be to wake up and know you hit Powerball,” said Mickey.

Gus was pouring a draft of the dark larger into a mug and was thinking, what a couple of schmucks.

“It’s better than hitting Powerball. I’ll tell you why, Mickey. It’s a good thing we never hit the Powerball because everybody who hits it dies,” said Zeke.

“You got to be kidding me. And here I am buying ten tickets a week. I buy even more when the money gets up there. It’s like I’m asking to win so I can croak,” said Mickey reflexively sticking his left arm out to catch the sliding mug of larger.

Mickey turned toward Gus, “Me and you coulda played for the Sox. We’re a good combo. You play shortstop, me at second base. Nothing woulda got through.”

Gus said, “I could never hit a curve ball. You guys know everybody dies, right?”

“But they die faster if they win Powerball,” said Zeke defending his turf.

Gus shrugged, “If you say so.” He thought, no sense arguing with geniuses.

Zeke and Mickey clinked their dark lagers and took a long drink. Both guys went through the ritual of the burp and forearm wipe. Zeke said, “If we do good, we don’t have to look for work. Tony will bring us into his organization. Then we’ll be living the good life.”

Gus edged himself down the bar toward Zeke and Mickey. He got in front of them, wiped his hands on his apron, looked around the bar to make sure no one was listening. There was no one listening because they were the only people in the bar unless the Feds had bugged the place. This was always a possibility with his clientele.

Gus bent over toward the boys, he whispered, “How long I know you two guys?”

“Is this a trick question?” asked Mickey.

Zeke said, “You know us since you opened this place twenty years ago.”

“That’s a long time. Did I ever steer you guys wrong? Did I give you guys tickets to Patriots games when I couldn’t go? Did I give you free drinks on Christmas Eve before I closed?”

Mickey looked confused. Too many questions. He was still processing the first question, “I think it was twenty-one years.”

Zeke who had two fewer beers than Mickey was a bit more coherent, said, “All the above is true. What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Between us and I will deny I ever said it if you repeat to anybody, plus I will bust a bottle over your heads if you repeat a word of what I say, you understand?” said Gus.

“Hey, Gus, you know us, it’s in the vault. You and Marie splitting, is that it? I never hit on her. It wasn’t me,” said Mickey.

Gus wanted to bust a bottle across Mickey’s head but resisted the temptation. He said, “This is what I got to say, do you really want to get mixed up with Gallino? Do you really think the package is harmless? I tell you to think about it. And, don’t spend the one-hundred. You ought to give it back. That’s it. I’ve said my piece.” Gus turned and walked down to the end of the bar and returned to washing mugs and shot glasses.

Zeke looked at Mickey. Mickey looked back at Zeke. Zeke turned and stared into his beer. Mickey finished his beer and signaled for another one. He turned to Zeke and said, “What are we going to do, Zeke? I’m scared.”

Are Zeke and Mickey in over their heads? What is in the box? What’s Tony Gallino up to?